From Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films comes Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides the fourth film in the highly successful, wildly popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Rob Marshall, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides captures the fun, excitement and humor that ignited the hit franchise-this time in Disney Digital 3D.
Johnny Depp returns to his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow and is joined by a host of international players, some familiar, such as Geoffrey Rush, once again as the indestructible Captain Hector Barbossa and Kevin R. McNally as Captain Jack's longtime comrade Joshamee Gibbs and some new to the "Pirates" family: Academy Award®-winning Penélope Cruz as Angelica, the first female pirate of the franchise; Ian Mc Shane, of Deadwood fame as the fearsome Blackbeard; plus Sam Claflin as stalwart missionary Philip Swift and French actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as the mysterious mermaid Syrena.
The screen story and screenplay for the all new adventure were written by veteran scribes Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, based on characters created by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert and suggested by the novel by Tim Powers.
"When three films together bring in $2.6 billion dollars worldwide, you understand pretty quickly that a message is being sent to you by audiences", notes producer Jerry Bruckheimer of the international response to the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, subtitled The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Dead Man's Chest (2005) and At World's End (2007).
"The numbers are wonderful", Bruckheimer continues, "but what's even better is that they tell you something of what these films have meant to moviegoers. Audiences fell in love with the pirate genre all over again after an absence of some three decades and they certainly fell head over heels for Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow! There are more adventures for Captain Jack to take on and our screenwriters, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, had already created a whole world to explore".
And exploring that world is just what the audience will do when they travel with Captain Jack on his action-packed journey to the legendary Fountain of Youth. When Jack crosses paths (and swords) with the enigmatic Angelica (Penélope Cruz), a ravishing pirate with whom he shares a dubious past, she forces him aboard the "Queen Anne's Revenge", the ship of the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).
Finding himself a prisoner on an unexpected journey to the fabled fountain, Jack must use all his wiles to deal with the barbarous Blackbeard and his crew of zombies, Angelica, who can-and will-match him wit for wit and sword for sword and beautiful, enchanting mermaids whose masterful cunning can lure even the most seasoned sailor to his doom.
Johnny Depp, who had fallen unabashedly in love with the character of Captain Jack Sparrow over the course of the first three films, was certainly game for another new adventure. "The idea of a fourth one after finishing 'Pirates 3' was somewhere in the back of your head, thinking 'I sure hope so,'" notes Depp. "When you're done playing Captain Jack, there's a real decompression getting out of that skin, because I like being in that skin,' says Depp. "There's a great comfort in playing Captain Jack, because you have license to be completely irreverent, completely subversive, absolutely abstract in all situations. I know him so well that it just comes naturally".
Depp adds, "I was very happy with the work that Ted and Terry did on the screenplay for 'On Stranger Tides.' It was like the gates were reopened and it was all fresh. It really felt closer in spirit to the first film, getting from Point A to Point D to Point Z without too many subplots and complications".
Depp was also enthusiastic to work for a fourth time with Jerry Bruckheimer, who had guarded the actor's wholly original vision of Captain Jack Sparrow when the first film began to shoot. "We wouldn't have been able to get away with a third of what we got away with on 'Pirates 1' without Jerry Bruckheimer", states the actor. "Without Jerry's support and his understanding of the material, saying 'Okay, I know that some people are scared but this sure seems funny to me, why don't we go with it,' the first film would have been much more generic, not much fun and I would have been fired!
"Jerry knows these films well. I've been in umpteen script meetings with the guy and never a false note comes up; he always comes up with something interesting. And if you're in a pinch, he's always the guy who says 'Don't worry about it; we'll get it taken care of.' Jerry really produces; he's untamed all the time and allows us to be in an atmosphere that's conducive to making something interesting and different. There have never been pressures in that regard; it's always sort of, you know, Bruckheimer's got it. You know he's handling it. It's cool".
Bruckheimer notes, "At this point Johnny is the most popular actor in the world, one of the best actors in the world and certainly the most committed and hard-working. He's somebody you love working with because every day he comes on the set with a smile, ready to go to work and have a great time, yet work very hard".
When it came to finding a director for "On Stranger Tides", both Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp found themselves in complete agreement with whom that should be-Rob Marshall, who had directed Chicago, an Academy Award® winner for Best Picture of the Year, followed by the greatly ambitious Memoirs of a Geisha and Nine. "Rob is a filmmaker unafraid to take on the biggest challenges and take real risks", says Bruckheimer. "What's more, his background in musical theatre and film and choreography were huge benefits to direct a 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie. You need somebody who can stage huge action and understands movement. Rob is also a wonderful storyteller and he's got impeccable taste".
Johnny Depp had a very short list of directors with whom he was willing to work on the fourth "Pirates" opus. "You know, having done 'Pirates' one through three with Gore Verbinski and Gore not being available for 'Pirates 4' because of his commitment to 'Rango,' made for quite a large dilemma initially", notes Depp. "Certain names were mentioned", says Depp, "and when Rob's name came up I thought, 'That's got to be it. Let's just hope he's a nice guy.' I've seen all of his films and he's got a great sensibility. He's got a great and unique approach to characters; his aesthetic sense is magnificent and his timing is perfect. So we sat down and talked and from the first second I knew he was the guy. I just knew it. I don't think there's anyone better who could have come in and followed Gore. Rob's approach was very respectful of what Gore built in the first three films but at the same time he has his own signature. He gave it a very new angle; he brought a brand-new pair of eyes and a fresh look".
Rob Marshall is a real force in contemporary American film whose on-set style has been accurately described as "iron covered in velvet". The highly acclaimed director's first three films Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Nine garnered a total of 23 Oscar® nominations and Marshall says taking the helm for the fourth film in the hugely successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise felt like a perfect fit.
"I've always wanted to do a classic adventure film", he says. "I think some initially thought that it's a departure from what I do, but for me it's not really; it's more of an extension, specifically because 'action' in general is a kind of choreography. "The action in 'Pirates,' like dance, is choreographed within an inch of its life. To make action sequences work, they are put together carefully like a detailed mosaic and that's very similar with dance. The action must contain story and develop character".
Marshall was also excited about the prospects of working with the man who had given the Pirates of the Caribbean films their very heart and soul: Johnny Depp. "Many people have said to me over the years 'you guys would be a great fit, a great match and you would love working with him and he would love working with you.'
"So when I was asked about 'Pirates,' the first thing that came to my mind was, 'What a great opportunity it would be to be able to work with Johnny.' Johnny is this extraordinary person because not only is he a genius and a creative force, but he is also such a kind, thoughtful and elegant man.
"I really feel that he's a throwback to another time. The man comes on set and shakes hands with everyone. He takes the time to make sure that everybody on set is happy", Marshall adds. "He has a strong work ethic, but he's also so much fun; he's hilarious and we laughed all the time. You know, it's a grueling schedule we're on; we were moving quickly and we had an enormous amount to accomplish with huge set-ups, but it was so joyous because of him, I have to say".
"Right off the bat Rob knew how to keep it lean", notes Johnny Depp. "I knew what he would use and what he wouldn't. He's incredibly efficient, saying 'Let's stay to the heart of the story and have fun while we're doing it.'"
"Johnny and Rob got along instantly and the relationship only got better through the course of the film", observes Executive Producer John DeLuca. "They were both always happy to be in each other's company on set; they found that kindred spirit in each other".
Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the acclaimed team, which even previous to the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" film had already written such contemporary classics as Aladdin and Shrek, dug ever deeper into the treasure chest of pirate and seagoing history, lore and mythology for On Stranger Tides with the assistance of the much-admired novel of the same title by Tim Powers, from which suggestions for the story arose. "The main guideline was to create a stand-alone story rather than a continuation of the trilogy, or the start of a new one", notes Rossio. "And then of course the Tim Powers book, 'On Stranger Tides,' was a huge inspiration for characters, theme, settings and basic storyline".
In writing the screenplay for "On Stranger Tides", Elliott and Rossio relied on their own instincts first and foremost, but were also careful to consider the first three films' huge worldwide audience as well. Rossio in particular is noted for engaging in online dialogue with movie fans through his own accessible website. "It was valuable to track the fan base to see how they reacted to various announcements regarding the film", says Rossio. "And I personally get energized in the designing and writing of the films, knowing how much the fans care and knowing that if there is something ambitious or nuanced in the films, the fans are going to spot it and appreciate it".
Indeed, the first three movies had created nothing less than a pop culture groundswell of "Pirates of the Caribbean" mania, as evidenced not only by the films' massive box office take, but even more so by the growing number of audience members donning pirate garb at the cinemas (not to mention at Halloween)-whether attired as Captain Jack, other characters from the films, or of their own design-and a huge upswing in "Argghhhhh"-style piratespeak for nearly any and every occasion.
With the stories of both Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) resolved in 'At World's End,' Elliott and Rossio sought to create new characters, while retaining some of the franchise favorites, particularly Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin R. McNally) and, of course, Captain Jack Sparrow. Tim Powers' novel included the legendary Blackbeard, most feared of all pirates, as a primary character and a better villain for the film could hardly be invented. A new female protagonist was created in Angelica, a woman who can match Captain Jack blow for blow. "It was especially fun to put Jack up against Angelica", says Terry Rossio, "as Jack had not yet faced off with a woman who was completely against him and his equal in terms of selfishness and cunning".
Elliott and Rossio wrote in close collaboration with Jerry Bruckheimer, Rob Marshall, Johnny Depp and Bruckheimer's production heads, executive producers Mike Stenson and Chad Oman. "Johnny was instrumental in the design of 'On Stranger Tides,'" informs Terry Rossio, "from the story through to character design, settings, themes and of course lines of dialogue. We wouldn't have the screenplay we have without Depp. He knows the Jack Sparrow character so well, you want to listen to every instinct and idea he has, large or small. I imagine the Jack Sparrow character, but Johnny lives him".
Depp himself thoroughly enjoyed engaging his creative partners in conjuring the story of the film. "Basically, it's like going into a think tank and just kind of throwing ideas around", Depp says. "If something sparks, it sparks and if they accept it, they accept it. And luckily, thankfully, they did, hopefully for the better. They were very receptive to make the film different and to keep it very fresh as opposed to just, well, here comes another sequel".
"We had a fairly short development period on the script, so we wanted to get Johnny's input as quickly as possible", says Executive Producer Mike Stenson. "He came up with some great ideas, including the one of making Philip a missionary. He has a lot of great instincts about what works and what doesn't".
Jerry Bruckheimer, Rob Marshall, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio all knew the great benefits of developing new characters and continuing the arcs of pre-existing ones, but what was clear from the get-go was that Captain Jack Sparrow would remain, as ever, the once and future Captain Jack Sparrow.
"Well you know", adds Rossio, "Jack Sparrow is one of those characters who doesn't change; the audience doesn't want him to change and I don't want him to change. Instead, he affects change in the characters around him".
Indeed, that aspect of the film was just one of the lures for Penélope Cruz, an Academy Award®-winning star of international repute, as well as the notion of reuniting with Johnny Depp, with whom she had previously appeared in Blow some years ago. And it didn't hurt that Cruz was already an admirer of the entire franchise. "I'm a very big fan of the first three movies", she confesses, "and of what Johnny did in those movies. This is a great adventure for any actor to be a part of. It's an adventure every day; you can never be bored".
Marshall had worked with Penélope Cruz before, on Nine in 2009 and they have become close friends. He admits that when he first mentioned the idea to Cruz of taking the role of Angelica in On Stranger Tides, he wasn't sure how the Oscar®-winning actress would react.
"I saw Penélope in that role immediately", he says. "I couldn't think of anybody else. It had to be an actress who could go toe-to-toe with Johnny and match him on every level. There had to be a sensuality to the character; there had to be humor, strength-a female pirate who is as smart, crafty and as clever as Jack Sparrow. Angelica needed to be all those things and, honestly, Penélope was the only choice. I remember asking Penélope when we were in a restaurant in London. John DeLuca, Executive Producer and I took her to dinner and I didn't bring it up until the end of the meal and I kept thinking, 'I wonder whether she will be interested...'
"And I tentatively said, 'Penélope, would you ever be interested in the idea of doing "Pirates"...' and I didn't even finish the words. She jumped up-in the restaurant-and screamed, 'I would love to!'
"You see this with great actors; they want variety in their careers and they don't want to play the same thing over and over. She was so thrilled, as I was, at the idea of doing a classic pirate adventure, a film that's for families, as well as everyone else. This was something completely different for her and she embraced it", says Marshall.
For Cruz, it was a reunion with both Depp and Rob Marshall, who directed her in Nine, for which she received an Academy Award® nomination. "Two of the greatest experiences I've had working with people in this industry were with Johnny and Rob", says Cruz. "Rob can handle huge amounts of pressure and always be a gentleman to everybody. He's a very special human being and I think anyone you ask will tell you the same thing. Johnny and I really loved working together 10 years ago and I'm so happy to be around him again. He's so humble, smart and one of the funniest people I know. His talent is incredible and he's another gentleman, like Rob. The more you work in this business, you just want to be around nice people and they are on the top of the list for that".
"Angelica had a relationship in the past with Jack Sparrow, but he betrayed her and broke her heart", explains Cruz. "Now she enjoys looking for revenge. I think she's still in love with him, but she cannot admit it, not even to herself, that she still has these feelings. Angelica has the mind of a pirate, the daughter of the biggest and most dangerous pirate of all time and she's a great manipulator, a great liar and a great actress in life. She can really trick people, but she's a very clean soul with a good heart. Her main purpose in life is to try and help her father. Angelica has hope that she can save him, repair all the damage that he's done. And she needs Jack Sparrow, as he needs her, to get to the Fountain of Youth, where Angelica hopes to save her father's soul".
"It's a kind of fevered love which is also beyond hatred", says Johnny Depp of Captain Jack and Angelica's relationship. Notes Geoffrey Rush, "Having Penélope on the film is absolutely fantastic because I've always felt that it would be great for there to be a wild, erratic, deeply attractive sexy female pirate that's Jack Sparrow's match. She's fiery, very feisty and very precise in her work".
For the challenging role of history's most notorious pirate, Bruckheimer and Marshall turned to an actor whose remarkable career in film and television-which has now spanned nearly 50 years-has been hotter than ever since his thunderously acclaimed performance as Al Swearengen in HBO's western series Deadwood. "Ian McShane is a consummate actor", notes Jerry Bruckheimer, "he's brilliant and he's done it all. He's won all kinds of accolades for his acting ability and that makes it so much more fun for a director and for an audience to see people who are the best at their craft".
Adds Marshall, "Johnny Depp, Jerry Bruckheimer and I sat down with a large list of actors and when we went through the list and we got to Ian McShane, it was immediately clear that he was Blackbeard. He can play something evil but there's always humor behind it as well. He just has his own fresh take on things".
"Blackbeard is probably the most infamous pirate who ever lived", notes McShane. "There's a legion of stories about him and whether they're true or not, he's now part of pirate mythology. I was impressed by the script, which is very funny and charming".
McShane was also keen to work with Rob Marshall, noting that "I think the phrase to describe Rob would be 'charmingly relentless,' which is a great quality if you're directing a huge movie like this. Rob has a steely determination combined with an honest, personal charm, which is great".
"The beauty of the character of Blackbeard", reflects Johnny Depp on Captain Jack's nemesis in 'On Stranger Tides,' "is that on the surface he seems to be a rational man. But then the more you get to him, the more you realize he's a stone-cold killer without an ounce of heart. He would screw over anyone and everyone to get to his objective, which is what makes him so dangerous. And I don't think there's a better choice than Ian McShane, certainly, to play him".
Penélope Cruz was anxious to explore the very unorthodox father/daughter dynamic between Blackbeard and Angelica. "Angelica doesn't want to admit that she cannot trust her father. "She cannot confront that, she cannot accept it. It's too painful for her, so she keeps finding justifications for everything he does. She keeps fighting him so that he would stop killing. She wants to give him a chance to change and keeps fighting for that. Her mission is to change her father and she cannot confront the fact that she can't trust him".
Returning for the fourth time as Hector Barbossa is Geoffrey Rush, who in the previous "Pirates" films had created one of the most wickedly beloved characters of the series. "I was very excited when I heard that there was going to be a fourth film because I love working with Johnny", says Rush. "I find the Jack Sparrow/Barbossa ongoing conflict very delightful to engage in. And Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio seem to constantly come up with something new. You know, I thought that after the first three-in which they'd explored every possibility from the world of swashbuckling, including buried treasure, the Aztec curse and big, Wagnerian dimensions of sea monsters, gods and goddesses and the East India Trading Company-that there would be nothing else left about the Golden Age of Piracy, or the mythology associated around it, for them to write about. But I hadn't thought about Blackbeard... or mermaids!
"The other thing that is very pleasing to me as an actor", continues Rush, "is that Barbossa has been increasingly revealed in each successive film. And in 'On Stranger Tides,' by the very fact that deep in his nature Barbossa is a very calculating survivor, he's got himself onto what he thinks is a very satisfying pension plan-because he's not getting any younger, he's joined forces with King George and has become a privateer. In the third film he had already revealed more of his devious, self-serving politician-type qualities and not just being a mangy old pirate".
"Even when Captain Jack and Barbossa are on the same side", notes Johnny Depp, "they're always on opposite sides somehow. I always felt like these two characters bicker like a couple of old housewives at a bridge club, just picking each other apart by the tiniest little morsel and detail. That's how Geoffrey and I have approached it from day one and he's most definitely a worthy opponent. Geoffrey is a fantastic actor, who's constantly investigating the possibilities of a scene. It's always fresh, always new, always interesting with Geoffrey".
Geoffrey Rush adds, "Let's just say that Jack and Barbossa think of themselves as an old married couple. If these two could actually collaborate and not lock horns all the time, they would be the most fantastic unstoppable team. But they're worlds apart because Barbossa is purely a strategic thinker, but not the brightest person, I should think. Jack bobs along the river of life improvising, taking huge daring risks which always pay off for him, even if he's being blown from one ship to another. He always lands and ends up looking like Bugs Bunny leaning against the mast. And it will ever thus be so, so that's a really fantastic actorial dynamic to engage with".
Also returning to the "Pirates" fold, as classic sea salt Joshamee Gibbs, is Kevin R. McNally, now a veteran of all four "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. "When they came and asked me to do another 'Pirates' film", McNally confesses, "I was surprised because all those years ago when we started, I never for a moment thought we'd still be making them! It's a real thrill, because it's very rare in features that you get a chance to revisit characters and have a look at them again, particularly when you've got writers who are very keen to bring out some new aspects to the characters and not just trotting out the same stuff time and again. It's a wonderful, exciting plot that Mr. Gibbs is involved with from the beginning, which is really enjoyable".
To portray the two younger leads of the story-the beautiful and enigmatic mermaid, Syrena and stalwart missionary, Philip Swift-Bruckheimer and Marshall, along with U.S. casting director Francine Maisler and U.K. casting directors Lucy Bevan and Susie Figgis, embarked on a classic worldwide talent search. Selected from thousands of candidates were France's Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and England's Sam Claflin, both in their early twenties and with some experience in their respective countries (Bergès-Frisbey, of French/Spanish parentage, had appeared in films both in France and Spain), but as yet unproven on an international level.
"That was a real search because we were looking for fresh faces-new, young actors", Marshall says. "We looked everywhere. We saw candidates in Europe and in the States, too. It was a long process, involving hundreds of actors. But as it came down to the final few, it became pretty clear who stood out. Sam is a marvelous actor and handsome as well, but he's also so fully rounded-he has humor, is as charming as can be and is incredibly physical too; he's actually a really good football (soccer) player. Astrid is playing a mysterious mermaid in the film and we were looking for someone otherworldly. We saw that immediately in Astrid-she had this ethereal quality. She is incredibly grounded and very true and so beautiful as well. And when we finally put the two of them together, we knew it was right".
Adds Jerry Bruckheimer, who knows a thing or two about discovering new talent, "Astrid had already done some wonderful work in both French and Spanish films and has a radiant beauty and is very soulful as well. Sam was a very recent drama school graduate in London, classically trained, very handsome and had already had major roles in two big television miniseries, 'The Pillars of the Earth' and 'Any Human Heart.' Astrid and Sam both did screen tests that excited us enormously. We just knew that they both had what it takes to make a major impression on the big screen and were proven more than right in that regard".
"I play a missionary named Philip Swift, who stands up for what he believes in and tries to right Blackbeard's wrongs", notes Claflin. "In the course of the story, Philip goes through a surprising journey, especially when he meets Syrena. He's never really had any contact with women, so that's quite a turn of events, to say the least".
Bergès-Frisbey was just as gobsmacked as Sam Claflin when she learned of her selection to star in the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean" epic. "I couldn't believe I was part of it until I arrived in Kauai for the first fitting", she admits. "Syrena is different from the other mermaids because, in the story, she connects to the human characters, which changes her. Philip changes Syrena and Syrena changes Philip because from the first moment they see in the other something similar to themselves. Syrena is different to the other mermaids as Philip is different to the other humans. He's a really good person and Syrena responds to him differently than to other sailors and pirates, who are at war with the mermaids".
Before filming, Bergès-Frisbey set forth on researching the legend and lore of mermaids. "From the time of Homer's 'The Odyssey,' everywhere in the world there are myths about mermaids", she notes, "seducing with their charm and then killing sailors. Then these myths began to change in the 19th century when Hans Christian Andersen wrote 'The Little Mermaid,' which was a more romantic view. That's now become more common, especially with the Disney animated film of that story and other films like 'Splash.' I think that Syrena is a link between the frightening older stories and the more romantic recent versions of mermaids".
During the entire two months of filming in Hawaii, Bergès-Frisbey-in order to retain the pale complexion that a mermaid must have, living as they do mostly underwater-was not permitted to have fun in the sun. "I had to live like a vampire", laughs Bergès-Frisbey, "staying indoors during the day and only able to come out at night!"
The remainder of the huge cast was assembled from a pool of renowned international talent which included Great Britain's Stephen Graham, who had worked with Depp on Michael Mann's Public Enemies, as the scrappy Scrum. "My character was originally from the Greenwich area of London", notes Graham, "A true sailor who's been out to sea since he was a kid. I kind of think of Scrum as being like the Artful Dodger of the pirate world, always looking for something to do, always with his hand in something. He's always looking for another way to make more money, or go on another adventure. Scrum is a great, fun character to play and after playing a few psychos lately, it's great to be able to let all that go and just really enjoy myself".
Joining the company were other distinguished international actors, including Richard Griffiths, Roger Allam, Greg Ellis and Damian O'Hare (the latter two repeating their earlier roles of Groves and Gillette) and 15-year-old Robbie Kay, the first kid to portray a pirate in the series; Spain's Oscar Jaenada and Juan Carlos Vellido; Japan's Yuki Matsuzaki; and Australian supermodel Gemma Ward as the mermaid Tamara.
Also returning to the "Pirates" fold is Keith Richards, legendary guitarist of The Rolling Stones, once again portraying Captain Teague. Depp, who has openly stated that Richards was one of his key inspirations for Captain Jack Sparrow, says "After having Keith on the third film, I knew that he had to come back. I spoke to Jerry and the screenwriters early on and everyone agreed. The global reaction to Keith's presence as Captain Teague was monumental. Keith was more than ready to come back, as long as it made sense within the context of the story. I thought the way Ted and Terry handled it was wonderful, because yet again, he comes in just at the right moment.
"He's a fascinating man, you know", continues Depp. "I've known him for a long time and to get periods like that where it's just him and me hanging out, sitting around in the trailer yakking about music, movies, whatever, was a real pleasure".
"Johnny was the engineer", adds Richards. "He said to me 'Are you in?' And I said, 'Just give me the rig, baby.' It's so much fun". Rob Marshall was also thrilled to be working with the rock legend. "He is a very sweet man and very funny, very self-deprecating", says the director. "After we shot his scene, I said, 'Keith, that was fantastic. I'm so impressed,' and he said slyly, 'You should see my Hamlet.' It was a joy to work with him because he's such fun. He's terrific in the movie and Johnny adores him. They have this amazing chemistry".
"We definitely want to take the audience on a journey beyond and different than what they've seen in the previous 'Pirates' movies", notes Jerry Bruckheimer. "With 'On Stranger Tides,' we have the great director of photography, Dariusz Wolski, who has done all three previous 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films and this time works for the first time in digital 3D. We also have a brilliant Academy Award®-winning production designer, John Myhre, who was brought in by Rob Marshall and we've filmed in all new locations ranging from Hawaii to the Caribbean to London".
For Myhre, the task to design the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean epic was literally a dream come true. "Pirates of the Caribbean is just my favorite ride at Disneyland. I think I've been on the ride every year since it opened in 1967. I grew up in Seattle, but my family came down once a year to Disneyland".
As soon as Rob Marshall was announced as director for "On Stranger Tides", Myhre admits that he "literally started jumping around my living room like an eight-year-old boy". The reason was that he had already collaborated with Marshall on all three of the director's previous features, winning Oscars® for his dynamic recreation of the Jazz Age in "Chicago" and an astounding evocation of Kyoto, almost entirely on California locations, for "Memoirs of a Geisha".
Before filming began, Marshall, his longtime collaborator John DeLuca and production designer Myhre went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but this time were able to stop and examine details as research for On Stranger Tides. "Rob and I are both fans of all the previous 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies", notes Myhre, "but it's fun to come in with a new creative team, because you have a chance to shake things out and bring your own thoughts to it. We wanted to bring a certain theatricality to 'On Stranger Tides,' which is very character-driven. We're also expanding the 'Pirates' world by opening the film in London of the mid-1700s, then moving on to the islands, jungles and beaches of the Caribbean".
Explains Myhre, "The film kind of divides into three chapters: the opening in London, the middle section on the 'Queen Anne's Revenge,' and the last third is a trek through the jungle in search of the Fountain of Youth. Looking for those thick, dense, gorgeous jungles brought us to Kauai and Oahu in Hawaii, then a huge set for the mermaid sequence in Los Angeles, on to Puerto Rico for a tiny island and historic Spanish fort and finally to the United Kingdom for London exteriors and a large number of sets built at Pinewood Studios".
Joining Myhre to manifest ideas, concepts and dreams into three-dimensional reality, were set decorator, Gordon Sim, who shared his Academy Award® for Chicago and nomination for Nine, U.S. supervising art director Tomas Voth, U.K. supervising art director Gary Freeman and a huge team of designers, draftsmen and artists on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the "Pirates" shoot.
"Although we filmed the first three 'Pirates' movies mostly in the actual Caribbean", notes Jerry Bruckheimer, for 'On Stranger Tides' we required landscapes so beautiful they're almost otherworldly". After extensive location scouts, the filmmakers settled on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu, each offering their particular attributes on both land and sea.
"Both islands, especially Kauai, have these extraordinary jungles, mountains and shorelines", says Rob Marshall. "They're so lush, oversized and just stunning. Oahu also has beautiful landscapes and we also did all of our shooting at sea there of Blackbeard's ship, the 'Queen Anne's Revenge.'"
"It's a sign of things to come when the first day of filming a big adventure is almost as adventurous as what you're putting up on screen", laughs Bruckheimer in recalling June 14th, 2010. The almost inaccessible Honopu Beach on Kauai's fabled Na Pali Coast is a magnificent stretch of sand surrounded on three sides by sheer cliffs rising to 1,200 feet. As a protected site by the State of Hawaii, the only way into this natural wonder was either by helicopter-with Johnny Depp surreally emerging from a chopper in full costume, hair and makeup as Captain Jack Sparrow-or by sea.
However, since boats are not permitted to actually land on the beach, the only way in for most of the company was by Zodiac craft and then transferring either to Jet Skis or towed behind on water sleds through what turned out that day to be a rough, punishing surf. And since the Jet Skis weren't permitted to actually stop, everyone had to jump off or get yanked off the skis or the sleds. Of course, most of the crew, with first assistant director Peter Kohn preceding them (as he would for more than 100 days to follow), was exhilarated when they finally made it to the beach. As for the needed equipment, most of it had to be sling-loaded and brought in by helicopter.
"We always like to say that if there's an easy way and a hard way to do something", notes Executive Producer Barry Waldman, "we'll choose the hard way every time. Two days before we shot on Honopu Beach, the swells were only two feet. Of course, on the day that we started shooting, they were five feet. But filming on Honopu Beach is one of those things that if you do it right, adds enormous value to the film".
Adds Executive Producer Chad Oman, "I thought it was great seeing Rob Marshall being pulled up on a Jet Ski right up onto the beach for his first day of filming. What a great introduction to making 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' Most of us had all been through making three 'Pirates' movies, but for him it was a whole new experience and it was wonderful to see him bringing his excitement and enthusiasm to the project".
"The Garden Island", as Kauai is rightfully called, served up numerous landscapes well beyond Honopu Beach for a bewildering number of environments required for the film, as well as a considerable number of background players. In fact, an estimated 7,000 men turned up for open calls in both Kauai and Oahu a month and a half before the cameras turned, many decked out in pirate gear, including bandanas, headscarves, earrings and tattoos (mostly real).
Several were selected, but six lucky candidates living in Hawaii actually became a core group of "Queen Anne's Revenge" pirates, each with their own unique (if not eccentric) personalities: Tamayo Perry, a world-class big wave surfer; Kevin Senn, who is nicknamed "Top Hat" for the Lincoln-esque top hat he always wears; Michael Rosales, a rap artist of Filipino descent, whose artist name is Mic3; Emerson (Malcolm) Tuitt, the only true pirate of the Caribbean, originally hailing from the Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles; strikingly tall Rey Payumo, who has delivered mail for 20 years and Thomas Smith, a horticulturist by trade.
Following the waterlogged and sun-drenched first day's shoot on Honopu Beach, the company then proceeded for a full month of filming on numerous locations throughout Kauai. Such locales as the grounds of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kipu Ranch, Grove Farm and Valley House Ranch provided rich landscapes for thick jungle growth, rivers, chasms and cliffs, much of it ruggedly challenging for the cast and crew to access and film, especially with the two-camera 3D rigs.
But shooting in paradise certainly charmed the cast. "On my first day of shooting in the jungle", recalls Sam Claflin, "we were waiting for the camera to set up. Malcolm, one of the pirates from Hawaii, picked up a coconut which had fallen off a palm tree, took one of his prop swords and whacked it open. Soon we were all drinking coconut milk, right there on location. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life and I feel blessed for the opportunity to work there".
Although known to most tourists merely as the "Blue Room" or "Blue Cave", to the Native Hawaiian people in their richly poetic language, Waikapala'e on Kauai's North Shore-just across the road from Ke'e Beach, where the company also filmed-is a place of great and sacred cultural significance. The exquisite cave grotto was chosen as the entrance to the caverns that lead to the Fountain of Youth, perhaps appropriate since the Hawaiians believe that the waters in Waikapala'e have their own life-giving power. Appropriately, the day's filming there began with a powerful blessing ceremony conducted by a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. In fact, the "On Stranger Tides" company made certain that whenever filming on or near sacred grounds, such ceremonies were always conducted before the cameras turned.
The weather gods were unusually kind to the production throughout filming in Kauai, except for one day in which a drenching rainstorm covered the entire island, forcing Johnny Depp and Kevin R. McNally to film a scene inside of an 18th century paddy wagon (which actually takes place in England) rather than on Ke'e Beach. The next day, though, skies cleared enough to allow Depp and McNally to shoot an important sunset scene on the beach, with enough clouds moving in to suddenly create a perfect image with radiant light. All agreed that with all of the technological advances in film made over the past few decades and computer generated imagery capable of manifesting virtually anything, nothing could match the perfection which nature herself bestowed upon that landscape.
"That's why we go to such locations", confirmed Jerry Bruckheimer, "for exactly such moments as that". "Kauai was phenomenally beautiful and perfect for us", adds Geoffrey Rush, "because we were shooting in really surreal-looking bamboo forests and finding wild and rugged cliff faces and extraordinary jungle. It added so much to the film".
The final location in Kauai before the "On Stranger Tides" army moved to Oahu had its own honored pop history... the shuttered remains of the legendary Coco Palms Hotel near Kapa'a, one of the primary locations for Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" and the very place where he sang the title song in that early '60s classic. Marshall and company shot in the vast coconut grove for which the hotel was named, with 773 palms harvested before filming to prevent the heavy fruits from falling on the hapless heads of cast and crew. The harvested coconuts were then taken by local residents to take full advantage of the nourishing meat and milk of the tropical fruits.
And for good measure, Geoffrey Rush hosted a screening of "Blue Hawaii" for several of his friends in his Kauai hotel room. "We re-cast every part in the film with actors from 'Pirates,'" recalls screenwriter Terry Rossio, "and of course Elvis would be Johnny Depp!"
Almost one month to the day that shooting began in Kauai, the company island-hopped to Oahu, "The Gathering Place". Once again, Mother Nature provided Bruckheimer, Marshall and John Myhre with most of their required backdrops, albeit with numerous revisions by the art department. Much of the filming in Oahu was out on the deep blue open waters of Hawaii, with the "Queen Anne's Revenge" in all its terrifying glory docked at either Barbers Point-very near where Disney's new Aulani resort began construction at much the same time, a stone's throw away at Ko Olina-or more often, the Heeia Kea Boat Dock in Kaneohe. Here it became a nightly tradition for hundreds of spectators, either locals or tourists from the U.S. mainland or as far away as Japan, to assemble in a controlled area for a glimpse of Johnny Depp and the other cast members and the beloved star never disappointed them.
Night after night, Depp, fully arrayed as Captain Jack, stopped by the barricades on his way to the "Queen Anne's Revenge" to greet the fans, shaking hands, posing for pictures, getting kissed a great deal and letting everyone know how much their support was appreciated. Aloha was met with aloha and as word spread of Depp's graciousness, the crowds grew larger by the night. They were also mesmerized by the sight of the ship, off in the distance, shrouded in movie fog and smoke and surrounded by camera and support craft from marine coordinators Bruce Ross and Dan Malone's department, just wondering what on earth was happening aboard.
In fact, what was happening much of the time was an exciting sequence in which Jack Sparrow leads a mutiny against Blackbeard, with less than expected results. "We were taken out on little boats to the ship", recalls British actor Paul Bazely, who portrays Salaman, "which was all lit up with these beautiful, huge lights. There was smoke blowing; the torches were all lit with flame. I walked onto set and they said 'Right Paul, this is the part where you climb down the rigging, attack so-and-so, you pull them up here and you tie them up. Pictures up, roll camera.' And suddenly, hundreds of people start screaming and shouting and swords are clashing, so it's very exciting. You're fighting on a deck that they specially wet down to make it look realistic and it was really slippery. But it was an amazing experience being on board with our brilliant stunt team. It was intense; let me put it like that!"
On land, the filmmakers selected one of the most legendary beaches in Oahu for day scenes at Whitecap Bay, the site of the mermaid attack on Captain Jack and a coterie of Blackbeard's pirates: Halona Cove, aka Eternity Beach, where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shared their famous snog in the sand in 1953's From Here to Eternity. Although just off the main coastal road about 20 minutes south of Waikiki, Halona Cove is nonetheless very difficult to access, as there's no actual path leading down to the beach. Everyone in the company had to stealthily and carefully make their way down a steep gradation of slippery stones, not easy for those crewmen carrying heavy equipment. The nearby Halona Lookout presented a similar challenge for Depp, Cruz, Rush and other cast and crew.
Production designer John Myhre's biggest "build" in Oahu were the atmospheric mermaid pools on the grounds of the North Shore's Turtle Bay Resort, although so tucked away that the tourists and revelers at the actual hotel had no idea of the nightly shoot with Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Sam Claflin and various and sundry pirates and zombies. "We were shooting so many jungle sequences", notes John Myhre, "that we just needed to find as many different looks as we could to show the journey. Rob Marshall put it nicely when he said that our journey through the jungle in the movie should be like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride... that every time you go around the bend, you have a new tableau".
Adding to the mermaid pools' eerie atmosphere were 13 chillingly realistic mermaid skeletons, created by makeup and makeup-effects department head Joel Harlow.
"It's always a thrill and very exciting, to be on a pirate ship", says Jerry Bruckheimer. "I think every kid wants to be a pirate and working on these movies, we all have to chance to live our dreams". Even if that pirate ship is a floating nightmare. Imposing, terrifyingly beautiful, a brutal beast of the sea, the "Queen Anne's Revenge" is Blackbeard's vessel and an extension of his own dark vision of life... and death. Director Rob Marshall notes, "The 'Queen Anne's Revenge' is an incredibly evil vessel-it's made of the skulls and bones of Blackbeard's victims. It's been prophesied that Blackbeard will die soon, so there is also a sense of doom on the ship. It's a majestic pirate ship, so it was absolutely thrilling to sail".
"The scale of it was unbelievable and the craftsmanship was amazing", comments actor Stephen Graham, who filmed many of his scenes aboard the craft. "It's all hand-painted, hand-crafted and it's like being at Disneyland every single day".
"How fabulous to work on a pirate movie and get to design a ship", enthuses John Myhre. "We were handed the 'Black Pearl' which was re-designed and built by Rick Heinrichs, the production designer of the second and third 'Pirates' films. Rick and his crew, plus the boat builders, constructed the 'Black Pearl' around the hull of a modern steel boat and it was completely navigable. And since the 'Black Pearl' doesn't figure into the story of 'On Stranger Tides,' Disney wanted us to use the ship as the base for the 'Queen Anne's Revenge.' So we basically sliced the entire top of the boat off and were able to come up with whatever we wanted".
Myhre looked at a lot of old pirate films and noticed that it was not always easy to distinguish one ship from another in battles, but he wanted to make the "Queen Anne's Revenge" stand out and look like the most powerful ship on the seas. "The real Blackbeard captured over 20 ships", says Myhre, "so I pitched the idea that he kept the one that was the most elegant and grandest. So we took the base of a two-story ship and turned it into a three-and-a-half story ship".
Before its transformation into the "Queen Anne's Revenge", the "Black Pearl" sailed an astonishing 2400 nautical miles in two weeks from San Pedro, California to Barbers Point, Oahu, (since it was constructed for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", built around the hull of an offshore supply boat called the "Sunset", the "Pearl" has put in more than 8000 nautical miles) under the expert seamanship of its captain, Glenn Hall, aka "Captain Kiwi" and his crew of seven very hearty shipmates.
For four months at The Phoenician shipyard in Kapolei, Greg Callas' construction crew in concert with Bruce Ross' marine department gave the "Black Pearl" its ultimate makeover. "The ship had sat in dry dock for five years, so she was tired in spots", notes Callas. "We had to do a lot of deck replacement, with lots of sculpting of elements in Los Angeles and then shipped to Oahu".
After its retrofit and redesign by Myhre and U.S. supervising art director Tomas Voth, the Pearl re-emerged as something utterly unlike its previous incarnation. "We decided to make the stern of the boat as high as it could possibly be and still be able to sail", notes U.S. supervising art director Tomas Voth. "On the third deck, we're 55 feet up in the air from the water line. We had to put several tons of lead weight in the front of the ship so it didn't pop a wheelie and the ship is now 100 tons heavier than it was as the 'Black Pearl.'"
The wall of skulls to the left and right of the door that leads into Blackbeard's inner sanctum was actually moved from the "Queen Anne's Revenge" to Pinewood Studios in England, where the interior of the cabin was constructed on a soundstage.
"Designing something like the 'Queen Anne's Revenge' is what I most love about working on films, because they're such a collaboration", notes John Myhre. "I started drawing up these really beautiful baroque details for the ship, almost like Versailles, which would make the ship look really rich and elegant. We showed the drawings to Jerry Bruckheimer and Rob Marshall and they loved them, but Jerry said something interesting: 'Blackbeard had to the scariest pirate we've ever had in a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.' Jerry said that since the most famous pirate flag is the skull and crossbones, we should work some skulls and skeletons into the actual design of the ship.
"I remembered Kostnice, the famous 'Church of Bones' in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. It's this amazing church which is literally decorated with bones. They made garlands out of spines and pyramids out of skulls. And I thought wow, instead of doing all this intricately carved molding details, what if we just used the bones of Blackbeard's victims in the design of the 'Queen Anne's Revenge'? So we made moldings of leg and arm bones and teeth and walls out of skulls, with the idea that Blackbeard actually burned his victims in a giant, flaming lantern on the stern of the ship".
The figurehead of the "Queen Anne's Revenge" was based on Blackbeard's real flag, which was a great horned skeleton holding a goblet of wine in one hand and a spear in the other, as if he's toasting his victims. "I always loved that", says Myhre, "and thought that for the figurehead, we would do something similar. And one of the legends of Blackbeard is that going into battle, he would light fuses embedded in his beard, so he was always fiery and smoky. I thought it would be cool to transfer this idea to the ship itself, for it to be scary, devilish, fiery and smoky. So for the skeleton figurehead, we have fire coming out of the rib cage, eyes and goblet and that casts a smoky haze around the entire ship. And the huge lantern in the back is sending off trails of smoke from the bow".
"We thought it would be great fun if Blackbeard has a huge stained glass window in the back of his cabin at the rear of the ship", adds Myhre, "which was illuminated by the giant fire lantern just outside. To me, it was about the light creating the atmosphere in the cabin, with the angry, billowing flame moving through the window".
The interior of Blackbeard's cabin was actually later built on B Stage at Pinewood Studios and included a large section of the huge stained glass window. "We had a good time dressing the set", says Myhre, "because in our incarnation of Blackbeard he has supernatural powers, so we have many objects of the occult spread about, as well as more typical seafaring charts and navigational equipment. You have all his power and wealth and loot, but also a fantastic layer of magic and alchemy".
Since Myhre had already appropriated the skeleton from Blackbeard's real, historically correct flag for the "Queen Anne's Revenge" figurehead, a new design was needed for the pirate's flag in "On Stranger Tides" and ultimately contributed by Heather Pollington. What resulted was a fiery banner which wouldn't look out of place on the back of a motorcycle gang jacket, fitting right in with the overall concept of Blackbeard as a "biker pirate", as costume designer Penny Rose puts it.
The "Queen Anne's Revenge" was not only the setting for numerous scenes of action and supernatural mayhem, but also for a moonlit dance of romance, deception and double-dealing between Captain Jack and Angelica, choreographed by Executive Producer John DeLuca to mandola music played by Stephen Graham as Scrum (Graham actually learned how to play the mandola for his role with several pre-production lessons).
"Johnny is such a physical being", notes DeLuca, "and what he creates in his physical being for his characters is the same as what a dancer does. Penélope truly is a dancer; she loves to dance and loves to move, so it was a hoot working with them on the scene".
Leaving behind the sylvan shores of Hawaii, the "On Stranger Tides" company flew to Los Angeles, where, following a couple of days of filming off the coast of Long Beach. In the film, the HMS "Surprise" - a beautiful replica of the 1757 British frigate HMS "Rose" - doubled as the "Providence", shooting off the coast of Long Beach, California, about 120 miles up the coast from where the ship is usually docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
The extraordinary Whitecap Bay set, 343 feet long and 22 feet deep, was designed by John Myhre and built with great skill by U.S. construction supervisor Greg Callas and his team at the "Falls Lake" section of Universal Studios in Los Angeles. "Whitecap Bay is the beginning of the third act of the movie", notes Myhre, "part of the journey to find the Fountain of Youth. Whitecap Bay is where mermaids have been known to gather for hundreds of years.
"We needed to be in a completely controlled environment for the water sequence that happens there. That's why we went to Falls Lake, a series of connected concrete tanks that you can build a set into and on top of and then flood. It was the only way you could really shoot the sequence on water and not put actors and stunt players in a dangerous situation".
Adds Rob Marshall, "That was complicated and long, all-night shoots, with a lot of stunt work and a lot of underwater work. All of our characters were in wet suits being thrown around. So that was without a doubt the most complicated sequence and the most challenging".
In addition to Astrid Bergès-Frisbey's Syrena, "real" mermaids came in the form of seven gorgeous model/actresses (including Australia's superstar Gemma Ward as the alluring Tamara) and a talented team of 22 synchronized swimmers-some of them Olympic competitors in Beijing in 2008-organized and choreographed by Candace Hipp and outfitted in motion-capture suits to later be converted into "reel" mermaids by visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson and Ben Snow of Industrial Light & Magic.
Considering the amount of time they all had to spend in the waters of the Whitecap Bay set at Universal-at night, no less-it helped greatly for them to have a comfort level in liquid surroundings. "In Australia we have beach training from a very young age", notes Ward, "and I've always loved being in the ocean. We did a lot of training in the water for this film with certain types of movements that mermaids make and the way they move underwater is very different from a human being. We had to learn how to move with our legs together and undulating movements". While a fashion icon, Ward is still relatively new to the acting ranks and was clearly blown away by the size and scope of the Whitecap Bay set. "My God, it's amazing; it's incredible. I mean, just the scope of it; I'd never seen anything like this before".
"The biggest challenge", notes synchronized swimming coach and choreographer Candace Hipp, "is that the girls don't get to use their arms as much as they would like. So they're using a 'dolphining kick,' one of the hardest kicks to use in swimming because of the stomach muscles that need to be used. This is when the swimmers jump out of the water as far as they can, keeping their legs together. They're also using what's called the 'eggbeater,' turning your legs around and around in circles as a way of treading water".
The actors, who had to be together in a small wooden boat floating in the middle of the huge Falls Lake tank, forged a camaraderie based on necessity. "We were surrounded by beautiful mermaids, so that wasn't a bad thing by any means", says Sam Claflin, "but it definitely wasn't the most comfortable of boats and there were six of us in that tiny boat for four consecutive nights. It was kind of like island fever, but on a boat. But we started feeling like real pirates, singing songs, mucking about and having chats between takes. We made our own entertainment and it was nice to get to know each other and the mermaids".
The visual effects for "On Stranger Tides", which would prove to be as much of a game-changer as what had been done for the previous three films, were primarily handled by Industrial Light & Magic, Moving Picture Company and Cinesite, with contributions also made by CIS Hollywood, Rising Sun, Method and Hydraulx, all under the supervision of Charles Gibson, who won an Academy Award®, with a few collaborators, for their game-changing work on 'Dead Man's Chest.'
In addition to creating photo-realistic mermaids, Gibson and his legion of VFX artists would be called upon to do everything from extending the urban landscapes of 18th century London to altering the already astounding natural environments filmed in Hawaii, not to mention bringing a whole ship to terrifying life in the "Queen Anne's Revenge" mutiny sequence.
It would be up to Gibson, VFX producer David Conley and Ben Snow of Industrial Light & Magic to ultimately convert the black-suited swimmers into terrifying mermaids. "Based on what ILM had done with Bill Nighy and Davy Jones in 'Dead Man's Chest' and 'At World's End,' notes Gibson, "we knew that we could create fully synthetic characters with great fidelity that matched the performances of live-action characters. The actresses who played the mermaids were tracked wearing either special suits or, in some cases, transfer tattoos when they couldn't be wearing suits. These were then blended so that we had the best of both worlds".
Adds ILM's Ben Snow, "We put the synchronized swimmers into ILM's tracking costumes. They're wearing marker bands so we can edit our computer mermaids where the synchronised swimmers and stunt players were. The swimmers are really amazing. They're able to do incredible things with their bodies, like 'porpoise-ing' in and out of the water. One of the ways that we can use the performance of the swimmers is to track them by the markers they wear on their costumes. We have a couple of our people shooting with video cameras and we are able to synchronize those with the RED digital cameras used for actual filming. That helps us track the movements because we can use the multiple angles and allows us to take what Rob Marshall was doing when he directed the scenes and reproduce them in animation. We've come up with an interesting design for the mermaids, part creature and part beautiful women, with long, jellyfish-like tendrils that whip out and drag sailors to their doom. It's technically very challenging, but also very exciting".
Charlie Gibson and company also helped to create the seaweed whips that the mermaids use to drag the hapless pirates to their doom. "Stunt coordinator George Ruge had his guys getting pulled on rigs and ratchets", notes Gibson, "so we just rode on their coattails and created the right animation to create a successful hybrid of real action and visual effects".
And then the "On Stranger Tides" company found themselves, finally, in the real Caribbean, as they flew from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico to shoot in Old San Juan and a tiny island off the east coastal city of Fajardo. The perfect site for the exterior of the Spanish fort needed in the film was the Castillo San Cristobal in Old San Juan, one of the two great fortifications built by Spain to guard the city from land attack. Construction began in 1634 and completed in 1783, making it absolutely period correct for the film's mid-18th century setting.
The filmmakers also discovered a classic desert island so perfect that no one could believe that it actually existed. And indeed, the island of Palominito off the coast of Fajardo was little more than a few palm trees, a great deal of sand, surrounded by an astounding turquoise ocean.
"One of the most exciting aspects of "On Stranger Tides", says Jerry Bruckheimer, "is that for the first time, we have a London setting for part of the story, rather than the jungles, oceans and colonial outposts of the Caribbean. It really gives the film an entirely different look and feeling".
Although the venerable Pinewood Studios outside of London would provide John Myhre, U.K. supervising art director Gary Freeman and their mammoth art department with a gigantic playground in which to build their sets, some of the region's most heralded historical buildings and other sites would also host the "On Stranger Tides" production. So ambitious was the effort to create the physical world of the film, the U.K. art department for the film numbered six art directors, five draftsmen, concept, graphic and storyboard artists. Construction manager Andy Evans' department included 62 carpenters, 29 painters, 71 plasterers, 36 riggers and 14 sculptors. Not surprising when one considers that the production built huge sets on five different Pinewood sound stages, including the 007 Stage, the largest such facility in Europe and a large exterior backlot set as well.
The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England, is an extraordinary collection of historic buildings dating from the late 17th to the mid 18th centuries-with its own piratical connections-which essentially became a backlot for more than three weeks of filming. The building standing in for the Old Bailey courthouse in the film is actually Sir Christopher Wren's magnificent Painted Hall, which was partially financed with funds confiscated by the Crown from Captain Kidd's booty after he was hung at Execution Dock across the Thames from the complex in Blackwall.
During actual filming, a huge blue screen was situated, with the image of Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral and sailing ship masts "painted" in by artists from visual effects supervisor Charles Gibson's department. "We needed a really wonderful opening establishing shot of deep in the heart of London", notes John Myhre, "so we used the lower level of the buildings of the Old Royal Naval College for our extras, carriages and horses, but everything above the first level painted in through visual effects". This included replacing the Painted Hall's weathervane with a digital recreation of Lady Justice, who strides atop the Old Bailey, holding a sword in one hand, the scales of justice in the other. A scene was actually filmed inside of Wren's Painted Hall of Captain Jack being unceremoniously dragged through the entrance hall of St. James Palace by Royal Guards.
A huge swath of the Old Royal Naval College, including the exteriors of the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, Grand Square, Queen Mary Court and buildings which currently house the University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music, were also utilized for the film's thrilling carriage chase sequence. Completely obscuring the modern pavement, were copious amounts of realistic mud, with more than 500 costumed extras, 25 period carriages (85 percent of which were originals rather than replicas), 50 horses and untold crew members, from Jerry Bruckheimer and Rob Marshall onward, getting realistically filthy in the process, up to their ankles in muck. Trinity College also provided the company with often marvelously incongruous background music to the exciting goings-on, including jazz and modernistic twelve-tone.
A delightful sidebar to the filming in Greenwich was an unexpected event that became international news overnight. During the shoot at the Old Royal Naval College, 9-year-old Beatrice Delap, a bright little student at Meridian Primary School-spitting distance of the filming locale-sent Johnny Depp a hand-written letter with the following missive:
"Captain Jack Sparrow, at Meridian primary school we are a bunch of budding young pirates. Normally we're a right handful but we're having trouble mutinying against the teachers. We'd love it if you could come and help. From Beatrice Delap, aged nine, a budding pirate."
About a week later, Beatrice and her classmates were called into the auditorium, the students fearing a tongue-lashing or worse for some nefarious playground incidents. Instead, unannounced to anyone but the school's principal, in strode Johnny Depp, fully attired as Captain Jack, on a lunch break from filming at the ORNC, along with a few other crew members-including the film's Oscar®-winning makeup designer, Joel Harlow-suitably attired as fellow buccaneers. For 15 minutes, the children and teachers were mesmerised by the presence of the iconic character and his creator, who spoke, sang and danced for the assemblage.
Recreating both the exterior and interior of St. James Palace in "On Stranger Tides" required the seamless melding of shooting at Hampton Court Palace for Captain Jack's surprise arrest by Royal Guards, then the interior of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich as the pirate is literally dragged by soldiers to King George III's lavish dining room, followed by a built set piece of the St. James' Palace exterior built at the ORNC. The King's dining room, however, was in fact a splendid set on R Stage at Pinewood Studios. "That becomes an amazing action sequence and for that you need to control the environment completely", notes John Myhre. "When you have Captain Jack swinging on chandeliers and throwing chairs through 18th century windows, you need to build it".
The St. James dining hall sequence was exquisitely lit by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski with flickering candlelight and with authentic makeup and powdered wigs-a few of hundreds prepared by hair department head Peter King, yet another Academy Award®-winning artist-adorning the King and his chief advisers, with great Shakespearean actors Roger Allam and Anton Lesser on either side of Richard Griffiths, the scene gave Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" a run for the money in period authenticity and detail.
Sharing R Stage at Pinewood with the St. James' Palace dining hall was an intricate re-creation of an Old Bailey courtroom circa 1750, with paintings of nobles and other worthies decorating the walls and set decorator Gordon Sim and UK propmaster Ty Teiger's departments securing the required quill pens, parchment and period law books. With the addition of Penny Rose's costumes and hair designer Peter King's powdered wigs and other hairstyles of the day, the set looked ready for actual proceedings.
Just behind the 007 Stage on the Pinewood backlot was a remarkably atmospheric recreation of a mid-18th century London dockyard street. The street's architecture reflects several eras, from Tudor and Elizabethan half-timber to stone and wooden structures, all meticulously detailed right down to period graffiti. "There are really amazing crafts people here in England and this is their heritage", remarks Myhre. "This is a world that they've lived in, so everyone in the art department was very excited about the details and ideas that they had. The street is built out of wood and plaster, but they found a few beautiful old beams from the period, cast and modeled them and used those as the basis for the set".
Although the exterior entrance to the Captain's Daughter pub could be found on the backlot set, as soon as Johnny Depp and Keith Richards walk through the door they're actually on Pinewood's E Stage. When illuminated by flickering candlelight and populated by the likes of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Keith Richards as Captain Teague and a motley assortment of dockside denizens, the Captain's Daughter set took on an atmosphere of absolute authenticity. This dark, wooded storage room of the Captain's Daughter-so much larger than the diminutive pub itself-became a fun-filled arena for an action sequence involving a swordfight between two Captain Jacks and then a detachment of intruding British Royal Guards.
Another ornate set was designed by Myhre and built at Pinewood for the scene in which Captain Jack and Barbossa play teeter-totter in attempting the retrieve the chalices needed for the Fountain of Youth ritual inside of Ponce de Leon's cabin on the precariously perched "Santiago". This set has the most overt link to the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland, resulting from Rob Marshall's research ride before he began filming "On Stranger Tides". He noted the tableau known as the 'Captain's Quarters,' in which a skeletal figure peers at a map with a magnifying glass, surrounded by mounds of treasure. This became yet another in a series of direct tips of the pirate's hat to the original attraction in the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Once again, set decorator Gordon Sim and his department created a cornucopia of furniture, pirate's booty, a harpsichord, drapery and other accoutrements to contribute even more atmospheric flair. Surely, John Myhre's piece de resistance was the gargantuan Fountain of Youth set. The final concept of the Fountain of Youth, constructed along with a cavern which extended the entrance filmed back at Waikapala'e in Kauai, was designed by Myhre and his team of art directors and brilliantly erected by Andy Evans' construction department, on the famed Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios, the largest such facility in Europe. Inhabiting nearly every inch of its 59,000 square feet-the only stage big enough to contain Myhre's vision-the set took three months to construct.
U.K. special effects supervisor Neil Corbould was responsible for keeping the Fountain of Youth set filled with 1.5 million gallons of water, which had to be turned over every three hours, with filters taking particles out and chemicals pumped in to keep it clean for the actors, background and stunt players working in it. A separate tank in the back of the set with pumps and 20 nozzles created a waterfall backdrop. And two tons of dry ice per day kept an atmospheric mist on the water. Five thousand square meters of moss as well as a few thousand ferns and roots and hanging plants were brought in to dress the set. Other exteriors in England were filmed at the historic Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent, an extraordinary 15th century country mansion first built by the Archbishop of Canterbury and home to the Sackville family since 1604.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Angelica, Hector Barbossa, Blackbeard, Gibbs, Philip, Syrena and about a thousand other characters in "On Stranger Tides" represent a synergistic collaboration of (first and foremost) the actors who portray them and then the filmmakers and dozens of others who contribute to their wardrobe, hair, makeup and props.
The estimable Penny Rose, for the fourth time, combed the globe to appropriately costume not only the protagonists and supporting players of "On Stranger Tides", but the hundreds of extras as well. Says Jerry Bruckheimer, "The devil is in the details and Penny is as obsessed with the tiny elements as she is with the big picture. There's really nobody else like her in her very specialized field".
A creative hurricane, the British-born, multi-lingual Rose, along with her key associates (primarily associate costume designer John Norster and assistant costume designer Margie Fortune), left no detail unattended to. "When you've already done three", says Rose, "there's a kind of familiarity and a great sense of fun about doing a fourth. But we've got some new ingredients".
In a pirate movie, dealing with water on a daily basis as well as a lot of stunts, results in a huge costume-manufacturing undertaking. Rose had 700 costumes made in Rome for all the background players. The busy bootmaker and hatmaker were also based in Italy.
Explains Rose, "I can't ever have two pirates standing together in the same fabric or the same coat in the same color, so we go to Florence and buy 1700 different fabrics. Our buttons come from a funny little shop in Paris and I think in one morning we chose 4,800 buttons because I don't want anyone to have the same buttons as somebody else. A very clever guy with a foundry makes our buckles and since he also makes beautiful leather wares, he makes some of our belts and baldricks. Most of the pirate sashes are made with thin, Madras-style Indian cottons. We have a dye shop and try to use vegetable and fruit dying so that it looks authentic for the period. Then a lot of pieces go into the cement mixer with a few stones to break them down and age them properly. Then we take cheese graters and other methods to them to break them down even more. We wreck costumes for a living here.
"But the costumes are constructed absolutely authentically", insists Rose. "There are no modern gimmicks within them. You'll find no zippers or Velcro on these costumes!"
Since, as Johnny Depp put it, "... old Captain Jack found himself long ago", there was little need to tamper too much with the character's now-iconic look. Yes, his dreadlocks have gotten longer, some have grayed, others lightened by the relentless sun of the Caribbean. And yes, somewhere along the line he's acquired a mysterious "x" scar on his left cheek and a gold tooth embedded with a black pearl (replacing one which is now dangling from his bandana). But the fundamental look established in "The Curse of the Black Pearl" is essentially intact.
"There is something special about creating a costume that is now worn by kids everywhere on Halloween", says Penny Rose, "but I really can't take credit, can I? I mean, it's Mr. Depp's rendering of Captain Jack that's caught the imagination of everybody. We do have a new blue vest for Captain Jack though", she adds. "We thought the vest was a bit boring and maybe Jack had stolen something along the line, so he's got a very nice silk vest now. And we have 80 of Captain Jack's head scarves, because we never want to run out.
"For Penélope Cruz as Angelica", continues Rose, "I had it in mind that I wanted her to be kind of a romantic pirate highwayman. So I created a man's jacket cut for a woman, as befits a female pirate, with pants and thigh-high boots, which are very sexy. And I wanted to accentuate Penélope's figure, so she's wearing a leather corset curtsied in strips, which accentuates the upper part of her body. We also gave her a wonderful plumed hat which has great flair perfect for her character".
As for Ian McShane's Blackbeard, although there was much historical documentation of the actual pirate, the creative artists on the film were prepared to give him their own fanciful touch. "We knew all about Blackbeard", says Rose. "He wasn't very glamorous; he was a nasty piece of work, but obviously, for a movie, we wanted him to be glamorous as well.
"I just woke up one morning and said, 'My God, if they cast Ian McShane he's got to be a biker,'" proclaims Rose. "Everybody jumped at it and the only time it might have hiccupped was when I had to tell poor Mr. McShane that he would be wearing leather in Hawaii for two months. But he was quite happy to go with it, being a very professional, experienced actor who understands that it's worth suffering if you're going to look great. So we did Ian as a kind of Hells Angel biker pirate. We have him in lots of beaten- up leather and stud work and Ian looks pretty mean in them, but also very handsome and striking".
And even meaner once McShane's makeup artist, Kenny Myers, finished applying the very long, braided beard which gave the terrible pirate his very name. One character from the previous "Pirates of the Caribbean" films who does undergo quite a sea change in "On Stranger Tides" is Hector Barbossa. "The costume design of Penny Rose has given me a silhouette and a shape unlike any other character I've played", notes Geoffrey Rush. "Not just by the sort of historical nature of the costumes, but she's given him a sort of arrogance and vanity and scale of personality that once all that stuff goes on, it puts me into a different level of imaginative play than I've done in other films"
"In this movie Barbossa has become a privateer, so we've put Geoffrey in a very grand commodore's uniform", says Rose. "You know, if he's going to work for the King, he might as well look the part, which is very different from the pirate we've seen in the previous films".
Rush also dealt with an even greater change in Barbossa: a peg leg where a real one used to be. "In the 18th century, they basically got you very drunk, sawed your leg off and replaced it with a bit of wood from an old piano or something", notes the actor. "Back in the old days, an actor like Robert Newton playing Long John Silver in 'Treasure Island' would have spent the whole shoot with these legs strapped up to his back and tried to avoid letting people seeing his foot sticking out the back. But from the nature of the script and the maneuverability that I would need, you can't run with your leg strapped up like that.
"So we went with a much more effective and practical solution, which was to put on a blue screen stocking with all the appropriate marking dots and have it digitally replaced. I like the fact that Barbossa has a disability because that's psychically made him angrier, more forceful, more resilient as a character".
Makeup department head Joel Harlow, an Academy Award® winner and his team of eager artists, were responsible for creating much of the look of Blackbeard's eerie zombie crew, with quite a bit of R&D preceding the final results. "A concept illustrator named Miles Teves did several drawings", recalls Harlow, "which we then had to translate to three dimensions.
"The idea was that the zombies don't contain muscle and flesh, but moss, stones and fiber, like they're devoid of blood, sinew and anything that makes us human, with lots of stitching. We did a lot of research into Santeria symbols, voodoo lore, classic zombie movies, as well as shrunken heads. We did an initial battery of testing in L.A. before filming began, sent them to Jerry and Rob and got their feedback. Then, just before we started shooting in Kauai, we lined up about 14 zombies in front of Jerry and Rob and they made changes then as well. Finally, the makeup on each zombie took an average of three-and-a-half hours every day they worked".
"The only way we would release 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' in 3D", states Jerry Bruckheimer, "is if the film was actually filmed in 3D. This was very important to both Rob Marshall and me, because what we want to do is to give the audience a completely immersive experience in crystal-clear 3D that brings them right into the action, not hurt their eyeballs. And this is one of the first big adventure films to shoot in 3D on location rather than against green screen or entirely on sound stages. With this one, we are actually in the jungles, on the beaches and on the streets of 18th century London.
"It's a much different experience when you have to deal with the elements with two cameras rather than one, so it takes more time and adds to your budget", Bruckheimer continues. "But shooting in digital 3D gives real dimension and size to the movie".
"We felt very much like pioneers, I have to say", adds Marshall, "because rarely has a film taken 3D cameras into these remote locations. We took these delicate cameras into locations like jungles, beaches, caves and ships. It was a challenge. We discovered a lot on our feet as we were going".
Shooting in 3D presented numerous challenges to director of photography Dariusz Wolski (who had served in that capacity on all three previous "Pirates of the Caribbean" films on 2D 35mm film and whose collaborations with Jerry Bruckheimer go all the way back to Crimson Tide). "Jerry really threw a curveball at me when he said that we should shoot 'On Stranger Tides' in 3D", Wolski admits. "It was a fairly new technology and other big adventure films, like 'Avatar,' had been done primarily in the computer. No one had really done a movie from beginning to end, physically on location, in 3D. And especially a movie like 'On Stranger Tides,' which required exotic locations, big seats, boats, jungles, beaches and all the natural environments.
"It was very ambitious and very scary", Wolski continues, "because although everyone wants to make 3D movies, it wasn't really figured out. We shot with two RED cameras rigged together, one shooting into a mirror. Everything has to be electronically coordinated, so there are a lot of cables, scientists and computers all over the set and we also had a 3D monitor that we used to analyze the imagery while we were filming".
The highly evolved RED cameras also allowed Wolski to film 3D with great attention to historic detail and lighting. "We're trying to be very true to the period in retaining candle and natural light, as you see in 18th century paintings. The RED is remarkable when it comes to low light level, which people relate to, as they do to a beautiful sunset", adds Wolski.
As for the artful usage of 3D in "On Stranger Tides", Dave Drzewiecki, the on-set stereographer, notes, "You can poke people in the eyes with spears and shoot water at the lens, but that's not really what this movie's about. It's actually a very immersive and, in many ways, subtle use of the 3D experience and it's much grander in its depth".
"There's no one better at creating action than George Marshall Ruge", says Jerry Bruckheimer of the stunt coordinator/department head and second unit director who had previously devoted his skills to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies as well as the two National Treasure hits (not to mention Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy).
"This particular 'Pirates' movie has more of the vibe of the first film, very much character driven, especially by Johnny as Captain Jack", says Ruge. "I'm very comfortable designing action for that character. I feel like I know him like a family member. And then we have the new characters and it was important for me to get a handle on them and to make sure that we blended those characterizations together in a way that animates the story".
Ruge and his key collaborators in the stunt department, including assistant stunt coordinator Daniel Barringer, sword master (and stunt double) Thomas Dupont, UK stunt coordinator Greg Powell and head stunt rigger Kurt Lott, created a range of elaborate set pieces which often defied the laws of gravity, including Captain Jack's 25 foot leap off of a jungle cliff in Kauai and another dive off of an exploding lighthouse in the Whitecap Bay scene, an intricately choreographed sword fight inside of the Captain Daughter pub's vast two-level storeroom, the thrilling carriage chase through the streets of London, the rigging of the "Queen Anne's Revenge" coming to life and hoisting mutinous pirates up to the yardarms, the unprecedented mermaid attack sequence and a monumental climax at the Fountain of Youth (which Ruge began rehearsing with his stunt team in March but didn't begin filming until October). For filming in England, Ruge and Powell enlisted no fewer than 100 stunt players.
The leading players certainly enjoyed the physicality of their roles. "All my great heroes were basically silent film guys, where they didn't have the luxury of words", notes Depp, whose dexterous performances throughout his career have amply displayed his balletic physicality.
"I did two months of training in Los Angeles before filming began with George and his amazing team of people", adds Penélope Cruz. "They taught me to lose the fear and how to be 100 percent alert. You know, 'Pirates' has taken up seven years of my life, so I feel protective of it", concludes George Ruge. "When you put that kind of time into anything, you want it to be memorable".
With 106 first-unit days of filming completed on November 18th, 2010, it was then up to Jerry Bruckheimer, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca and associate producer/post-production maestro Pat Sandston to marshal their vast team of film editors, sound and visual effects artists, composer Hans Zimmer and others to complete the film in a pressure-cooker six months before its mid/late May 2011 openings around the world.
Zimmer had already given Captain Jack and the gallery of "Pirates of the Caribbean" characters their distinctive musical sound in the three previous films, creating full-bodied orchestral scores which managed to walk the tightrope between the stirringly traditional in grand Hollywood tradition and simultaneously innovative, imaginative and adventurous.
"I love writing music and coming up with new themes", he notes, having already created memorable leitmotifs for the likes of Captain Jack, Barbossa, Will and Elizabeth and Davy Jones in the previous films. "It gets trickier because the style was established very quickly in the first one and then suddenly you start falling into things and start identifying the new characters in a musical way. Then it just starts rolling again and you begin getting fresh ideas".
"You try to treat each film as an autonomous movie", Zimmer continues, "but at the same time there's great fun in revisiting old friends, as it were. We now have Penélope Cruz playing Angelica, who's Spanish, so I felt that there could be some Latin influences in the score for 'On Stranger Tides.' I've been a big fan of Mexican guitarists Rodrigo y Gabriela for years now and I asked them if they wanted to come and play with us. We've been having a really great time with them being part of the musical world this film gets to inhabit".
For all of his years as a film music composer, Zimmer, a keen student of world music, has often brilliantly interwoven ethnic sounds into many of his scores, from African (A World Apart, The Power of One, Disney's The Lion King, Jerry Bruckheimer's "Black Hawk Down) to Asian (Black Rain, The Last Samurai, Kung Fu Panda) and beyond. But as one who started his career as a rock musician in The Buggles, Zimmer has maintained his links to that world. "I always saw 'Pirates' as rock and roll scores", notes the composer, "because pirates were sort of the rock and rollers of the past. Rodrigo y Gabriela are basically flamenco guitarists, but they come from metal music and very much inhabit the rock and roll world as well. So it was a perfect fit between us and them".
"It's very exciting because it's the first official invitation for us to collaborate with a great composer for a film", says the duo's Gabriela. "That's very different from what we usually do. All of a sudden, we are here building all this music from scratch. It's very challenging and very inspiring to work on".
In the end, as Bruckheimer notes, the best memories of shooting Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides are "the relationships with the cast and crew. Johnny is back, Geoffrey and Kevin are back and now there are new friendships with Rob, John [DeLuca], Penélope, Ian, Sam and Astrid. The fun of it is making new friends and working with them.
Director Rob Marshall sums up, "It was a grand adventure on screen and off. Each moment as we were making this film, whether it was in Hawaii or London or wherever we were, I believe everyone felt part of this unique experience".
Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) began his career as a musician with the rock group The Kids, which took him to Los Angeles. When the band broke up, Depp turned to acting and earned his first major acting job in A Nightmare on Elm Street. He followed that with roles in several films including Oliver Stone's Academy Award®-winning Platoon before landing the role that would prove to be his breakthrough, as undercover detective Tom Hanson on the popular TV show 21 Jump Street. He starred on the series for four seasons before starring as the title role in John Waters' Cry-Baby.
It was Depp's compelling performance in the title role of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands that established him as one of Hollywood's most sought-after talents and earned him his first Golden Globe® Award nomination as Best Actor. He was honored with another Golden Globe Award nomination for his work in the offbeat love story Benny & Joon, directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik.
Depp reunited with Burton for the critically acclaimed Ed Wood and his performance garnered him yet another Golden Globe® Award nomination for Best Actor. Depp starred and made his feature directorial debut opposite Marlon Brando in "The Brave", a film based on the novel by Gregory McDonald. He co-wrote the screenplay with his brother D.P. Depp.
As Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp reprised the role for a third time in Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End after Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest earned more than $1 billion, making it the third largest-grossing movie of all time. He received his first Academy Award® nomination, as well as a Golden Globe® Award nomination, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award nominations and a Screen Actors Guild Award® for his portrayal of Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Depp received his second Academy Award nomination, as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination, Screen Actors Guild nomination and BAFTA nomination for his role as J.M. Barrie in Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, in which he starred opposite Kate Winslet and Freddie Highmore. In 2004, Depp starred in The Libertine as 17th century womanizing poet John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester.
In 2005, Depp collaborated with Tim Burton on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for which he received a Golden Globe Award® nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, which received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Film in 2006. In 2008, Depp received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, winning a Golden Globe Award for the role.
More recently, Depp has starred as real-life criminal John Dillinger opposite Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in Michael Mann's Public Enemies, as the "Mad Hatter" in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for which he received a Golden Globe Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Musical and voicing the title role of Gore Verbinski's critically acclaimed "Rango". He will also soon be seen in Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary and is currently gearing up to start filming Dark Shadows with Tim Burton, both of which are produced by his company, Infinitum Nihil.
Other screen credits include Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck's The Tourist, David Koepp's Secret Window, Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon A Time in Mexico, Albert and Allen Hughes' From Hell, Ted Demme's Blow, Lasse Hallstrom's Chocolat, Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls, Sally Potter's The Man Who Cried, Burton's Sleepy Hollow, Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate, Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Mike Newell's Donnie Brasco with Al Pacino, Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man and Jeremy Leven's Don Juan DeMarco, in which he starred opposite Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway, as well as Lasse Hallstrom's What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Emir Kusturica's Arizona Dream and John Badham's Nick of Time.
Academy Award®- winner Penélope Cruz (Angelica) has proven herself to be one of the most versatile, young actresses by playing a variety of compelling characters and most recently becoming the first actress from Spain to be nominated and win an Oscar®. First introduced to American audiences in the Spanish films Jamon, Jamon and Belle Epoque, in 1998 she starred in her first English language film, The Hi-Lo Country for director Stephen Frears opposite Woody Harrelson, Patricia Arquette and Billy Crudup. In 1999, Cruz won the Best Actress award at the 13th Annual Goya Awards given by the Spanish Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for her role in Fernando Trueba's "The Girl of Your Dreams".
Confirming her status as Spain's hottest international actress, Cruz landed a series of coveted roles. She appeared in Billy Bob Thornton's All the Pretty Horses, Fina Torres' Woman on Top, Alejandro Amenabar's Open Your Eyes, Maria Ripoli's Twice Upon a Yesterday and Nick Hamm's Talk of Angels. Additionally, Cruz co-starred in Pedro Almodovar's Live Flesh and critically acclaimed All About My Mother, which was awarded the Golden Globe® and Oscar® for Best Foreign Film.
Next up for Penélope was a role opposite Johnny Depp in Blow for director Ted Demme and Captain Corelli's Mandolin" opposite Nicolas Cage. After that, Cruz starred opposite Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe's erotic thriller Vanilla Sky. She then tackled Masked & Anonymous, Fan Fan la Tulipe, which opened the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and Don't Tempt Me. She received rave reviews for her performance in Don't Move ("Non ti Muovere") in which she was honored with a David Di Donatello Award (Italian Oscar) and European Film Award for Best Actress.
To add to her already diverse choice of film credits, she starred in films including Gothika, Head in the Clouds, Noel and Chromophobia. Cruz also co-starred with Matthew McConaughey and William H. Macy as Dr. Eva Rojas in the action packed filmSahara.
In 2006, Cruz starred in Volver, which again teamed her with director and dear friend Pedro Almodovar. Critically acclaimed for her role as Raimunda, she won the Best Actress awards at the European Film Awards, the Spanish Goya Awards, the Cannes Film Festival and received both Golden Globe® and Oscar® nominations. Her recent credits include "Elegy" opposite Sir Ben Kingsley and Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona opposite Javier Bardem and Scarlet Johansson. Cruz won an Oscar®, a BAFTA a New York Film Critics Circle and a National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
In 2009, Cruz and Almodovar were back in action for the fourth time with Broken Embraces, for which she again received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Lena. Also that year, she teamed up with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall for the first time and starred alongside Daniel Day Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard, in the film version of the musical Nine. Her standout portrayal of Carla garnered Screen Actors Guild®, Golden Globe® and Academy Award® nominations. Her third Oscar® nomination made history as it marked only the third time in Oscar history where the winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress was nominated for the same award again in the following year. Most recently, Cruz appeared in Sex and the City 2.
Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa), an acclaimed actor who started his career in Australian theatre, has appeared in over 70 theatrical productions and more than 20 feature films.
Multiple award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush was catapulted to fame with his starring role in director Scott Hicks' feature Shine, for which he won an Academy Award® for Best Actor, a Golden Globe®, SAG®, BAFTA, Film Critics' Circle of Australia Award, Broadcast Film Critics, AFI and New York and Los Angeles Film Critics' Awards. In addition, Rush won an Emmy, a Golden Globe® and a Screen Actors Guild® Award for his captivating performance as the title character in HBO Films' The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
He also earned an Academy Award® nomination for his performance in Philip Kaufman's Quills and an Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe® nomination for his role in Shakespeare in Love. His recent film credits include The Weinstein Company's The King's Speech, in which he stars as the speech therapist Lionel Logue and also serves as the executive producer. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor and earned an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and a SAG® nomination for his performance. In addition to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Rush starred in all three previous films in the series, which grossed more than $2.7 billion worldwide.
Other film credits include The Warrior's Way, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, Munich, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Candy, Intolerable Cruelty, Finding Nemo, Ned Kelly, Lantana, Frida, The Tailor of Panama, House on Haunted Hill, Mystery Men, Les Miserables, A Little Bit of Soul, Children of the Revolution, On Our Selection, Twelfth Night, Oscar and Lucinda and Starstruck.
Rush received a degree in English at the University of Queensland, then studied at the Jacques Lecoq School of Mime, Movement and Theater in Paris. Returning to Australia, he starred in the theatre production of King Lear. Rush most recently starred in the stage production of The Diary of a Madman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for which he has received rave reviews. In 2009, Rush won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play for his acclaimed performance as the ailing king in Ionesco's comedy Exit the King.
He was a principal member of Jim Sharman's pioneering Lighthouse Ensemble in the early 1980s playing leading roles in many classics. His work on stage was honored with the Sydney Critics Circle Award for Most Outstanding Performance, the Variety Club Award for Best Actor and the 1990 Victorian Green Room Award for his performance in Neil Armfield's The Diary of a Madman. He also received Best Actor nominations from the Sydney Critics' Circle Awards for his starring roles in Gogol's The Government Inspector, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Mamet's Oleanna. In 1994 he received the prestigious Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for his work in theatre.
Ian McShane (Blackbeard) earned the coveted Golden Globe® Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama for his versatile performance as Al Swearengen on HBO's hit series Deadwood. His charismatic and alluring performance also led him to a 2005 Emmy and SAG nomination for Lead Actor, as well as being voted by People Magazine in 2005 "TV's Sexiest Villain". Following a wave of critical acclaim for the first season of Deadwood, which also included receiving the Television Critics Association's annual award for Individual Achievement in Drama, McShane was named as one of GQ's "Men of the Year".
McShane most recently starred as Waleran Bigod in The Pillars of the Earth, based on Ken Follett's best-selling novel. The eight-hour epic television event aired on Starz. In 2009, McShane starred in the motion picture 44 Inch Chest, a drama created by the same team as Sexy Beast and co-starred Ray Winstone, who executive produced along with McShane. In early 2009, he voiced the role of Mr. Bobinsky in Laika Entertainment's first animated feature, Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's international best-selling book, directed by Henry Selick. He also appeared as a detective opposite Renee Zellweger in Paramount's Case 39.
In the past several years, McShane's unique voice could be heard in two DreamWorks releases, first as Captain Hook in Shrek the Third as well as the voice of the villainous snow leopard Tai Lung in "Kung Fu Panda. In 2007 McShane was in Hot Rod, a comedy directed by Saturday Night Live's Akiva Schaffer and also voiced the role of Ragnar Sturlusson in The Golden Compass, directed by Chris Weitz. In 2006 McShane was seen in Woody Allen's film, Scoop, alongside Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackson; that same year he starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in the Warner Bros. true-life drama We Are Marshall, directed by McG.
Having starred in over 30 films including the independent film "Nine Lives", written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, it was McShane's film debut in 1962's "The Wild and the Willing" that lead to other leading roles in Battle of Britain, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, The Last of Sheila, Villain (co-starring Richard Burton), Exposed and Agent Cody Banks. In the critically acclaimed Sexy beast, McShane gave another riveting performance by transforming himself into the dark, sinister and very handsome character Teddy Bass.
McShane has enjoyed a long and creatively diverse career in both British and American television, including a role in David Wolper's seminal 1970s mini-seriesRoots, as well as BBC and BBC America's "Trust", playing the megalomaniacal head of the firm Alan Cooper-Fozzard. Starring turns in Whose Life is it Anyway? for Granada TV, the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights for the BBC, Harold Pinter's Emmy Award-winning The Caretaker and NBC's drama Kings" are among his other television highlights. McShane has also stepped into roles as well known figures, taking on such parts as Judas in NBC's Jesus of Nazareth directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Prince Rainier in the network's The Grace Kelly Story and the title role in Masterpiece Theatre's Disraeli. Additional mini-series credits include Charlie and the Kid, A.D., The Great Escape II, Marco Polo, Evergreen and War and Remembrance.
In the late 1980s, the actor formed McShane Productions, which produced the much-adored Lovejoy for the BBC and A&E. Lovejoy gave McShane a vehicle to star in as well as produce and direct. He followed his lovable rogue character by producing and starring in the darker and more serious lead role in Madson and the comedy-drama Soul Survivors for BBC. Lovejoy is currently enjoying a revival with audiences worldwide.
In 2000 McShane returned to the West End in London to make his musical debut starring in Cameron Mackintosh's successful musical The Witches of Eastwick as Darryl Van Horne. His varied stage career has included such roles as Hal in the original cast of "Loot", the title role of The Admirable Crichton at the Chichester Festival, Tom in The Glass Menagerie and Charlie in The Big Knife. He co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in "Promise, which successfully played London and debuted on Broadway. In Los Angeles he starred in three productions at the Matrix Theatre, including the world premiere of Larry Atlas' Yield of the Long Bond and two others for which he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award, Inadmissible Evidence and Betrayal. In 2008 McShane starred in a revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, the 40th anniversary of the play and McShane's Broadway debut.
Born in Blackburn, England, McShane is the son of professional soccer player Harry McShane, who played for Manchester United and Irene McShane. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. McShane and his wife Gwen Humble reside in Venice Beach, California.
Kevin R. McNally returns to his popular role from all three previous "Pirates of the Caribbean" films of Joshamee Gibbs. A well known actor in his native U.K., McNally has played leading and supporting roles on stage, film and television for nearly 30 years who has now become increasingly well known in the United States, McNally recently starred on Broadway as Claudius opposite Jude Law's "Hamlet" in Michael Grandage's production which began at London's Donmar at Wyndhams. McNally also starred for Grandage on stage at Donmar at Wyndhams as Lebedev in Chekhov's Ivanov, for which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 2009 Olivier Awards. Just previous on the West End, McNally starred in Matthew Warchus' acclaimed revival of Boeing Boeing.
McNally made his feature film debut in the James Bond adventure "The Spy Who Loved Me", with his other early credits including The Long Good Friday, Enigma, Not Quite Paradise, Cry Freedom and All Things Bright and Beautiful. More recently, McNally has appeared in The Legend of 1900, Entrapment, When the Sky Falls, Johnny English, De-Lovely, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, Irish Jam, Woody Allen's Scoop, Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, Father's Day and The Raven".
McNally's numerous television credits include the Emmy nominated "Shackleton" for the A&E Network and "Conspiracy" for HBO, both of which received BAFTA Awards in the United Kingdom. He's appeared over the years in such miniseries as Poldark II, Masada, Diana, Thin Air, Love and Reason, Miss Marple and the TV movies Praying Mantis, Jekyll & Hyde, Stalin, Abraham, The Smiths, Dunkirk, Blood Lines, The Murder of Princess Diana and Wuthering Heights. McNally has also been a series regular on The Devil's Crown, Tygo Road, Full Stretch, Dad, Underworld, Up Rising and Bedtime. He recently starred in the pilot of the ABC TV period crime procedural Poe as Commissioner Kyle Kilpatrick.
In London's West End, McNally has appeared on stage opposite Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van and Juliette Binoche in Naked. He also starred in Terry Johnson's Dead Funny at the Savoy Theatre. McNally was born in Bristol, England and grew up in Birmingham. He now lives with his wife, Scottish actress Phyllis Logan and his two children in Chiswick, London.
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Syrena) makes her U.S. film debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Born in Barcelona to a Catalan father and French-American mother, Bergès-Frisbey originally set her sights on a career as an osteopath, but turned towards acting after graduation. She studied drama at the Cours Simon and with Steve Kalfa at the Atelires de l'Ouest in Paris.
Although Bergès-Frisbey was cast by director Jean-Jacques Annaud in a small role in Sa Majeste Minor, it was edited out for the final cut. But she was then cast by Bernard Stora in the France 2 television movie Elles et Moi as a lead alongside Danielle Darrieux and Adiadna Gil. She then spent four months in Cambodia to appear in an adaptation of Marguerite Duras' novel Un Barrage Contre le Pacifique, directed by Rithy Panh, as the daughter of Isabelle Huppert. She then traveled to the Alps for Lucien Jean Baptiste's La Premiere Etoile.
During the fall of 2008, Bergès-Frisbey appeared on stage at the Theatre Marigny in a production of Peter Shaffer's Equus, followed by the feature films Bruc, directed by Daniel Benmayor, with Juan Jose Ballesta and Vincent Perez. She will be on screen in April, on "La filled du Puisatier" (Pagnol's movie) as a lead, directed by Daniel Auteuil.
Since graduating from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in 2009, Sam Claflin (Philip Swift) has worked on a number of exciting projects. He starred in the television mini-series adaptation of William Boyd's Any Human Heart for Channel Four, playing the younger years of lead character Logan, sharing the role with Jim Broadbent and Matthew Macfadyen. The cast also includes Kim Cattrall, Gillian Anderson and Tom Hollander and was seen by U.S. audiences on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre".
Claflin also appeared in the epic mini-series Pillars of the Earth, portraying Richard alongside Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell and Ian McShane in the drama based on Ken Follett's novel of the same name. He also starred in The Lost Future, a science-fiction adventure with Sean Bean and Annabelle Wallis. Claflin's theatre credits while at LAMDA included the role of Dorimant in "Man of Mode", the title role in Tommy, Silvius in As You Like It and Davey in Love Is. Immediately following the completion of his role in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Claflin segued into a leading role in the British telefilm United.
Stephen Graham (Scrum) has been on a roll since his critically acclaimed performance in the BAFTA best picture winner This is England, directed by Shane Meadows. Most recently, Graham received rave reviews as Al Capone opposite Steve Buscemi in HBO's Boardwalk Empire, produced by Martin Scorsese. He also recently co-starred in The Fields opposite Sam Worthington and opposite Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell in London Boulevard.
Graham's appeared in the role of gangster Baby Face Nelson opposite Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in Michael Mann's Public Enemies and was seen with Nicolas Cage in Dominic Sena's Season of the Witch. In the United Kingdom, Graham has starred in the mini-series The Occupation" for the BBC and his depiction of an alcoholic in Jimmy McGovern's The Street garnered rave reviews.
After making his debut in "Z Cars", Christopher Fairbank (Ezekiel) has appeared in nearly 100 British television series, TV movies and feature films. His motion pictures have included Agatha, Plenty, Batman, Hamlet, Alien 3 and Goal!, with TV series including Five daughters, Law & Order: UK, The Line of Beauty, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Inspector Morse, Lovejoy, Prime Suspect 3, Spender, The Bill, Noah's Castle and The Old Curiosity Shop. Fairbank has also lent his voice to such animated films as "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and "Flushed Away" and the videogames Rule of Rose, Killzone: Liberation, Medieval II: Total War, Heavenly Sword, Viking: Battle for Asgard, Fable and Killzone 2.
Paul Bazely (Salaman) is well known to British audiences for his series roles of Troy in ITV's Benidorm, as well as the BBC Radio Four program Westway. His numerous UK TV appearances have also included "Wuthering Heights" (as Heathcliff), Casualty, Chopra Town, Trial and Retribution, Making Out, Medics, Heartbeat, Canterbury Tales, Holby City, Green Wing, The IT Crowd, Resnick andMoving Wallpaper. He also appeared in the feature films Vanity Fair, directed by Mira Nair, Three Blind Mice, See Red and Shadowscan.
On radio, in addition to "Westway", the popular Bazely has been heard on BBC's Hazelbeach, Dr. Fautas, Madame Butterfly's Child" and "The Seagull and Radio 4's The Mahabharata, Stowaway, Resnick, Not All Angels Have Wings, The Problem and The Maneater of Malgudi.
On stage, Bazely has performed at the National Theatre in Really Old, Like Forty-Five, as Guildenstern in Hamlet, The Waiting Room andHaroun and the Sea of Stories and Richard III and at many other venues in such plays as The Duchess of Malfi, Twelfth Night, A Passage to India, East is East, Toad of Toad Hall, Peter Pan and many others. Born in London, Bazely's parents moved to Great Britain in the 1960s from Channai, Madras, India, where their family had been part of that city's Anglo-Indian community for generations.
Bronson Webb (Cook) was most recently seen in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood". His other feature film credits have included Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, Venus, The Dark Knight, RocknRolla, Eden Lake and Dead Man Running. Webb's television appearances have included Eleventh Hour, Murphy's Law, Lead Balloon, Game of Thrones and The Tudors.
Richard Thomson (Derrick) has performed on British television in "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" and "Quite Ugly One Morning".
Yuki Matsuzaki (Garheng) was born in Miyazaki, Japan and began acting at the age of seven in a small theatrical group that presented plays for children, performing in over 50 shows until he was 18. Upon graduating high school, Matsuzaki moved to New York City and started his acting career as a street performer in Times Square. He performed there for a year and moved to Hollywood, where director Edward Zwick cast him in The Last Samurai. He was then selected by Clint Eastwood to portray Nozaki in Letters from Iwo Jima and portrayed Kenji in The Pink Panther 2 alongside Steve Martin, Andy Garcia, John Cleese, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno and Tori in James L. Brooks' How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.
Robbie Kay (Cabin Boy) has already appeared in several features in his young career, including Hannibal Rising, The Illusionist, Fugitive Pieces, My Boy Jack, We Want Sex and Ways to Live Forever. He also portrayed the title role on television in a production of Pinocchio from Lux Vide Productions.
Steve Evets (Purser) was recently seen in Robin Hood, Brighton Rock and Ken Loach's Looking for Eric, for which he received a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 European Film Awards. His numerous television appearances in the UK include Heartbeat, Gifted, Buried, Blood Strangers, Shameless, No Angels, The Eleventh Hour, See No Evil, Life on Mars, The Royal Today, The Street and The Rev, among many others.
Ian Mercer (Quartermaster) has been seen in the features Alex, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Lassie, The Boat That Rocked (aka Pirate Radio) andCreation. On stage, he's performed at the Royal Court Theatre in Under the Whaleback and The York Realist, the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Two Tracks and Text Me, the Leeds Playhouse in Chips with Everything, the Young Vic tour of Romeo and Juliet and Saturday Night, Sunday Morning at Nottingham Playhouse, among others. His television appearances have included Touch of Frost, Coronation Street, Shackleton, Donovan, The Street, The Chase, Waking the Dead, Holby, Shameless, Lewis and the acclaimed Red Riding Trilogy.
DeObia Oparei (Gunner) has amassed an impressive array of credits on stage, screen and television, primarily in Britain. On screen he's been seen in Aliens 3, Dark City, Moulin Rouge, Dirty Pretty Things, Thunderbirds, Doom, Mr. Nice, Legacy and Death Race". On stage, Oparei has performed at the Royal Court Theatre in Crazyblackmuthaf*ckinself and Clubland, at the National Theatre in Troilus and Cressida, Haroun and the Sea Stories and The White Devil, at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Cymbeline, Faustus, A Clockwork Orange and A Midsummer Night's Dream, at Leicester Haymarket in The Broken Heart, Drums in the Night and The Bells and at the Sydney Theatre Company in Six Degrees of Separation and Angels in America. On television, he's appeared in Minder, The Good Guys, Gallow Glass, Smile, Metrosexuality, Holby City and Answered by Fire.
Richard Griffiths (King George) is an English actor of stage, film and television. He has received the Laurence Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award and Tony awards for his role in the play The History Boys in London and on Broadway. He is also known for his portrayal of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, Uncle Monty in Withnail and I and Henry Crabbe in the British TV series Pie in the Sky.
Griffiths was born in Thornaby-on-Tees, Stockton, England and first attended drama classes at Stockton & Billingham College. He continued his education in drama at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama, now known as the Manchester School of Theatre. After graduating, Griffiths earned a spot on BBC Radio, also working in small theatres as an actor and manager. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean actor with portrayals in The Comedy of Errors, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry VIII at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Griffiths made his television debut in 1974 in Crown Court" and one year later appeared in his first feature film, "It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet". By the early 1980s he was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey and supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi. On stage, in 1985-86 he performed the role of Verdi in Julian Mitchell's After Aida in Wales and at the Old Vic Theatre in London. Griffiths' other stage credits have included "Luther" at the National Theatre, Art at the Wyndham's, The Man Who Came to Dinner and Katherine Howard at Chichester and Heartbreak House, Galileo and Rules of the Game at the Almeida Theatre.
Griffiths' more recognized film roles have been seen in Gorky Park, Withnail and I, King Ralph, The Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear, Guarding Tess, Sleepy Hollow, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Venus and Bedtime Stories. He also portrayed Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. Most recently, Griffiths appeared in the premiere of Episodes on television and in Martin Scorsese's film Hugo Cabret.
On television, the role of Inspector Henry Crabbe was created especially for Griffiths in the British detective drama Pie in the Sky. He also made an extended appearance in the 2005 version of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. In 2004, he originated the multiple award-winning role of Hector in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner. He reprised the role in the film version which was released in 2006. Together with Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, he appeared in a stage revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in London and later in October 2008 in a short run of the play at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway. In 2009 Griffiths appeared as W.H. Auden in The Habit of Art at the National Theatre, again directed by Hytner. Richard Griffiths was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours. He is married to Heather Gibson.
Roger Allam (Prime Minister Henry Pelham) was recently honored with a Laurence Olivier Award in the Best Actor category for his critically acclaimed performance as Falstaff in the Shakespeare Globe's recent productions of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. Previously, Allam won Olivier Awards for Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Money and Peter Nichols' Privates on Parade and was nominated for City of Angels and Summerfolk.
Born in North London, Allam trained at Manchester University, where he received a BA in Drama. After performing at Contract Theatre, Monstrous Regiment, the Birmingham Rep and Glasgow Citizens Theatre, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981. Allam played the role of Inspector Javert in the original London production of the Schonberg/Boublil musical Les Miserables and his subsequent U.K. stage appearances have included Speer, What the Night is For, Democracy, Aladdin, Blackbird, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Way of the World, Art, Ensemble, Troilus and Cressida, Summerfolk, The Cherry Orchard, Boeing Boeing, Afterlife andLa Cage Aux Folles.
Allam's feature films have included Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley, The Queen, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and Tamara Drewe. He's also been seen in the television movies The Investigation: Inside a Terrorist Bombing, RKO 281, Foyle's War, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire and several series.
Anton Lesser (Lord John Carteret) attended the University of Liverpool before going to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1977, where he was awarded the Bancroft Gold Medal as the most promising actor of his year. As an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company he has played a considerable number of the Bard's great roles, including Troilus in Troilus and Cressida, Edgar in King Lear, Henry Bolingbroke in Richard III, Petruchio and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Brutus in Julius Caesar, Leontes in A Winter's Tale and the title role of Richard III. He's also starred in the title role of Hamlet and as Dr. Rank in A Doll's House at the Donmar Warehouse and in The Vertical Hour at the Royal Court Theatre.
Lesser's feature film credits have included Esther Kahn, Charlotte Gray, Eroica, Imagining Argentina, Mrs. Potter and Primieval. His numerous television appearances have included King Lear, Good and Bad at Games, The Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, The Politician's Wife, Vanity Fair, Dickens, The Girl in the Café, Little Dorrit, Casualty and many others.
Greg Ellis returns to the role of Groves in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He's the star of Nickelodeon's Gigantic, which premiered in Fall 2010 and was recently seen as Chief Engineer Olsen, first chief engineer of the original Starship Enterprise, in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.
On the small screen, Ellis starred on TNT's series Trust Me, The Riches and Valentine. He also portrayed the villainous Michael Amador opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the third season of 24. On the big screen, in addition to the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Ellis appeared in two other blockbusters, James Cameron's Titanic and Doug Liman's Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Ellis was born on March 21, 1968 in Wigan, England, moving with his family to the small seaside town of Ainsdale at the age of seven. Following his father to a business meeting in London when he was 14 years old, Ellis found himself in a mall where over 10,000 kids had lined up to audition for a part in Alan Parker's film musical, Bugsy Malone. With the encouragement of his father, Ellis tried out for the part and was chosen for the second lead role of "Fat Sam". While performing in the film, Ellis caught the eye of a record label executive who offered him a record deal. He went on to sign with BMG Germany and recorded four songs back-to-back that went to the top of the European charts, with three hits in the "Top 20s" and performing for H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth at Saint Paul's Cathedral.
Upon obtaining his high school diploma, Ellis trekked to London and immediately landed a role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, directed by Trevor Nunn, then joining the cast of "Miss Saigon" in the lead role of Chris. He landed a role in the British family sitcom Bread and shortly thereafter was asked by Andrew Lloyd Webber to recreate the lead role of Rusty the Steam Train in the newly re-vamped version of Starlight Express, then playing the role in Las Vegas. Moving to Los Angeles, Ellis was cast by James Cameron in Titanic. Following Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, he was cast by Robert Zemeckis as barbarian warrior Garmund in Beowulf.
On television, Ellis has appeared in The X-Files, Bones, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Closer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Jake in Progress and Nip/Tuck. His voice talents have been heard in numerous animated series, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Mummy, What's New, Scooby-Doo?, The Boondocks, Ben 10, Teen Titans and the animated features "Garfield and Foodfight! He's also lent his voice to many video games.
Damian O'Hare is seen in the role of Gillette for the first time since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. O'Hare has portrayed the roles of Dr. Nick Burnett on The Royal and cameraman Rory Wallace in Taking the Flak. Also for British television, O'Hare has appeared in Ultimate Force, P.O.W., Foyle's War, Red Cap, Holby City, If, The Wild West, Casualty, The Bill and Doctors. O'Hare also portrayed ship designer Thomas Andrews in Titanic: Birth of a Legend.
Oscar Jaenada (The Spaniard) is one of Spain's most celebrated actors, a Goya Award winner for Best Actor in "Camaron" in 2005, having earlier received a Goya nomination as Best New Actor for Noviembre two years earlier. Audiences in the U.S. have seen Jaenada in Steven Soderbergh's Che: Part Two, Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control and The Losers".
Born in Barcelona, Jaenada began his career on such television programs as Al salir de clase, Hospital Central, El Comisario, Companeros and as Marcos on 13 episodes of Javier ya no vive solo. He made his feature debut in Lisastrata and has since appeared in increasingly important roles in Noviembre, Descongelate!, El juego de la verdad, XXL, Aloe, Camaron, Somne, Carne de neon, Crimines ejemplares de Max Aub, Redondeo, Dias azules, Skizo, El efecto Rubik (& el poder del color rojo), La vida abysmal, Todos estamos invitados, Sub-Way, Trash, Sukalde kontuak, La herencia Valdemar and Circuit.
Jaenada's other honors include two Toulouse Cinespana Best Actor awards for both Noviembre and Todos estamos invitados, three Spanish Actors Union nominations for Camaron and Noviembre, the Malaga Spanish Film Festival Silver Biznaga award for "Todos estamos invitados", the Fotogramas de Plata award for Best Movie Actor in Camaron, the Cinema Writers Circle Award for Best Actor in Camaron and a nomination as Best New Artist in Noviembre, as well as two Butaca Award nominations for the above films.
Spain's Juan Carlos Vellido (Spanish Captain) has been seen by international audiences in Steven Soderbergh's Che: Part Two, John Malkovich's The Dancer Upstairs and Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone. Born in Barcelona, Vellido's numerous Spanish film credits have also included God Is On Air, Bestiary, Utopia, Sexykiller, moriras por ella, Expulsados 1609, la tragedia de los moriscos, Malamuerte, 18 comidas and Neon Flesh. Vellido has also appeared as a regular cast member of several series, among them Todos los hombres sois iguales, Ellas son asi, Hospital Central, El comisario, Zoo, Hermanos & detectives, Alakrana and La Duquesa II.
Gemma Ward (Tamara) was born in Perth, Western Australia and educated at the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Perth and Shenton College. As a teenager, she accompanied her friends to a modelling competition and ended up being scouted herself. She didn't win, but she was picked up by a modelling agency after seeing a small picture of her in a magazine.
At only 16, Ward was the youngest model to be listed by American Vogue as one of the nine "It Girls" in the modelling world. She has been in shows for such designers as Versace, Gucci, Chanel, Valentino, Alexander McQueen and many more. She has graced numerous magazine covers, including Vogue, W and Time Magazine's Style and Design issue. In September 2004, at the age of 16, Ward became the youngest fashion model on the cover of the American edition of Vogue and was the first model to appear on the cover of Teen Vogue magazine. To date Ward's clients have included Balenciaga, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jil Sander, Karl Lagerfeld, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Rochas, Swarovski, Valentino and Yves Saint-Laurent and altogether, she has appeared on 30 covers of Vogue magazine worldwide.
With drama a passion for Ward since childhood, she was cast in Australian director Elissa Down's film "The Black Balloon" with Toni Collette and Rhys Wakefield. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008, receiving a Crystal Bear as the best feature-length film in the General 14 plus category. She was also cast opposite Liv Tyler in the suspense thriller The Strangers and appeared in John Mayer's music video Daughters.
Daphne Joy (Mermaid #2) was born and raised in the heart of Olongapo, Philippines. Although her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was just eight years old, she was able to retain and relay her experiences of her Filipino culture and upbringing. Despite the language barriers and overall culture shock, Daphne Joy was able to completely readjust to her new surroundings and with her natural beauty, easygoing personality and wit she made friends and was able to adapt to the American way of life.
Intrigued by her new country's pop culture, Daphne Joy became interested in entertainment, becoming involved in dance groups, choir, cheerleading and talent shows. At the age of 18 she transferred that interest to acting and was soon working in front of the camera on such hit television series as CSI: Las Vegas, Criminal Minds and Curb Your Enthusiasm. She was also featured in several A-list recording artists' music videos, along with commercials, national print campaigns, magazine covers and features.
Sanya Hughes (Mermaid #3) is an actress and model born in Kingston, Jamaica. She trained in drama with Eric Matheny and at The Acting Center. She has appeared on the daytime drama General Hospital, as well as in numerous commercials, including those for Target, Nike, EA Sports and Dolce & Gabbana. Hughes has extensive training in ballet, modern, reggae, Latin, jazz and hip-hop dance, is a trained equestrienne and competed at national and junior Olympic levels in swimming.
Breanne Beth Berrett (Mermaid #4) has been seen on screen in Alvin and the Chipmunks and Killers. On television, she's enjoyed featured roles on CBS' NCIS and HBO's Entourage and Hung, in addition to numerous commercials. Berrett has studied acting with Barry Papick and at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Los Angeles.
Antoinette Nikprelaj (Mermaid #5) is a model and actress who was recently seen in Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. She's also appeared in Demoted, "Exit 33" and on the cable TV series Hung.
Toni Busker (Mermaid #6) starred in the independent film The Manifesto and also appeared in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Sex and the City 2, What Happens in Vegas, "The Devil Wears Prada" and the TV series How to Make It in America, All My Children, 30 Rock and Lipstick Jungle. She also has been seen in a John Mayer music video and in commercials for L'Oreal, Foot Locker, Downey and Levi's. Busker trained at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, New York Film Academy and Meisner Technique Class. On stage, she was the lead off-Broadway in Happy Hour.
Jorgelina Airaldi (Mermaid #7) was born in the small country town of Colonia Belgrano, Argentina, approximately 310 miles from Buenos Aires. She was first introduced to the world of modelling when she was discovered by Hype Management. Since then, she has worked throughout Europe and the United States, gracing several magazine covers including Vogue Russia and Bazaar Beauty. She has been shot by such photographers as Christopher Wadsworth, Ines Garcia Baltar and Nacho Ricci.