Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tells Interview with Jerry Bruckheimer
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tells has proved to be rather successful at the box office. The fifth entry in the Pirates franchise is a film that I personally deemed, “a rare sequel that I would argue is just as good, if not somewhat better the original.” I still feel out of all the franchises that we see today, there are very few franchises that embrace action, adventure, and comedy like this one does. Last week, I was lucky enough to sit down with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer to discuss the franchise and the changes that were made from film to film along with how they decided that the story within part five is the perfect choice for the next stage of the franchise.
SM: What makes you want to keep coming back to this franchise?
JB: Jack Sparrow. This one, in particular, it’s like a Pirates family and a lot of us have been together for thirteen or fourteen years. It was nice to have Orlando and Keira back, Geoffrey is always with us, and then, adding Javier is a fantastic cast member. Of course, Captain Jack Sparrow is the best. We love making movies with him.
SM: Were you one of the first people to work with Johnny Depp in terms of how he shaped the character of Jack Sparrow?
JB: He shaped it all on his own. I wish I could say I helped him shape it, but I didn’t. It’d be a lie. What happened is that he just had his daughter and together they were watching a lot of cartoons. He kind of zeroed in on Pepe Le Pew, who he thought was a lot of fun, and Keith Richards, who was a friend of his. The combination of the two came to be Jack Sparrow.
You know the whole thing where you don’t know what he is? Jack has been out at sea so long and he’s constantly moving like a ship. That’s how he came up with the character. When you hear him describe how he created the character, it’s really fun to listen.
SM: I once attended a conversation with him and it was really funny. Depp explained and acted out the character and the studio responded with, “What is it? Is it gay?”
JB: It’s true. Is he drunk? Is he gay?
SM: Just hearing him say that was hilarious.
JB: Yeah, that was quite an issue on the first one. I think the shocker of all this is that you make a movie about a theme park ride. Right away, what are you doing? Are you insane? This will end your career. Then, the media starts coming after you because how could Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Johnny Depp make a movie about a theme park ride? It’s ridiculous and it’s on the coattails of The Haunted Mansion and Country Bears, who both failed as feature length films.
They’re looking at us and they’re writing about how miserable this movie is going to be. When the media walked in and they saw the movie, they were just in shock. They couldn’t believe this character who’s so fresh and so interesting. You have to hand it to Disney, to let us go ahead and create this character and let him create it.
SM: The first movie is still in IMDB’s Top 250 Films. It’s still there even after all these years.
JB: I know, it’s kind of crazy to think about.
SM: You’ve got to work with a lot of people on this franchise and there’s been a lot of people that have come and gone, as well as several directors. What was the difference working with Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg when comparing them to the others?
JB: We’re very fortunate. Gore, of course, created the franchise and did the first three. Then, Rob Marshall was great at directing the franchise. He was a theater director and so he understands orchestrating big events and big things, moving people around, etc. Then, Joachim and Espen show such deft story-telling. They made a movie called Max Manus, which was a basic character study.
Then, they go on and do Kon-Tiki, on the water, with all interesting characters. Their vision of what they wanted to do with this film was very much in key and even expanded what we thought we could do as far as the franchise. All those big sequences, they did every storyboard on them and it came out of their imagination. They’re really gifted.
SM: I’m sure you had to work a little bit with the directors. The script seemed to have gone through quite a few changes over the past three years. How did you know this was the right script to use? Where there things from the other scripts that didn’t make it in that you really wanted to be part of this film?
JB: I can’t remember the stuff that we cut out because it’s been a long process. These stories are hard to tell. You’ve got to make sure it makes sense. There’s a through-line, and that’s the hardest thing to get right. They’re complicated and we try to make the story understandable. The previous ones were much more complicated. This one was a much easier story line to follow and we did that on purpose. The movie is, I bet you, fifteen or twenty minutes shorter than the previous ones and also cost less money, and yet on-screen, it’ a much bigger movie.
As a filmmaker, you’re always trying to make movies that are cost-effective, that are bigger than you’ve made before as far as spectacle and storytelling, and this one hits a lot of notes. It hits the adventure button, it hits the emotional button, and it hits the humor button. The through-line works. You understand the story. You understand what their quest is and why they’re doing it. Father/son stories are always fun and father/daughter stories are universal. Disney is famous for making those stories forever, so we added it to Pirates.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is now playing in theaters everywhere!