BEVERLY HILLS – Billions of dollars and now four films into the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, there’s got to be a big reason Johnny Depp is continually drawn to play the quirky, but charming Captain Jack Sparrow, right? Most likely, it’s because 47-year-old superstar says that his creation “just won’t leave me alone.”
“No, we are totally different. There is nothing I can relate to in Captain Jack whatsoever,” Depp says obviously joking about his now signature role. Becoming somewhat serious he adds, “Any character you play there is a part of you goes into that in terms of the ingredients of making this, whatever, stew. There is definitely a part of me in Captain Jack and now, fortunately or unfortunately, there is a great part of Captain Jack in me as well. Basically, I can’t shake him. He won’t leave me alone. He keeps showing up at odd times. In fact ,he showed up this morning when I was getting my kids ready for school. I had to shoo him away.”
Returning to the sea for the fourth installment, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” Depp finds himself with a new romantic love interest (Penelope Cruz), a new villain (Blackbeard the Pirate played by Ian McShane), mermaids, the King of England and one particularly charming old friend (Geoffrey Rush as scene stealer Capt. Barbosa). It’s no secret Depp nor Disney ever truly believed “Pirates” would become the mammoth enterprise it is today, but that might partly be because the man at the center of the adventures rarely imagined his films would ever make any money anyway.
“It’s not my fault,” Depp says with a smile. “I did my best. Even to the point of trying to get fired on the first one, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. No, it’s kind of interesting to experience that kind of ride after, well, essentially 20 years of enjoying a career based on failures and then suddenly something clicks. The weird thing is I never changed a thing. The process is still the process as it ever was. The fact people decide to see a movie I was in was probably the most shocking thing I’ve ever been through.”
While Depp had his fair share of financial successes before the first “Pirates” (“Sleep Hollow,” “Chocolat,” “Blow”) he’s had something of a midas touch ever since helping to create Jack Sparrow eight years ago. Not surprisingly, producer Jerry Bruckheimer is already developing screenplays for a fifth and sixth installment and Depp admits he could see himself playing the character long past those planned voyages.
“I think they can wheel me in,” Depp says. “[I’ll get my dreads] tangled in the wheels of my chair. Interestingly enough, for me a character like Captain Jack you feel you could just continue. The possibilities are endless and limitless. There is any possibility of madness and absurdity that could commence. You feel with this character you are never really done.”
After reportedly disclosing he wanted to take somewhat of a break before playing Sparrow again (it’s been four years since “At World’s End”), Depp revealed Thursday his personal plans for shooting the next two films.
“There is a very clever idea in terms of ‘Pirates 5 and 6,'” Depp reveals. “We’re actually going to shoot them on the ride. Actually going around in a circle. Sort of like Andy Warhool’s ‘Sleep.’ Just close ups on everyone.”
Bruckheimer didn’t flinch when Depp made the joke, but knowing his quirky nature, you couldn’t put it past him to really try it. Of course, that might mean Depp would have to return to the director’s chair (he famously directed Marlon Brando in 1997’s “The Brave”) and if you take his comments on Thursday seriously, that won’t happen anytime soon.
“Oh, no. I tried that once,” Depp says. “The idea of directing a film is a strange one for me, because I sort of — I feel like kind of anti-mathematics in that sense. I don’t like it when things make sense. I prefer if they don’t. So, if I made a film it wouldn’t make any sense and no one would see it. So, I think I’ll just make films at home with my phone never to be released.”
As for his new “Pirates” co-stars, Depp says when director Rob Marshall suggested Cruz join the series he thought it would be a perfect match.
“Having done the film ‘Blow’ together 10 or 11 years ago, something like that. Well, the weird thing it felt like when we saw each other again it felt like we wrapped the film ‘Blow’ like a week before or a few days before,” Depp admits. “It just felt instantly that whatever exists in terms of chemistry was just firing on all cylinders. I knew she would be not only a worthy opponent but someone who would just kill the scenes and she did, she’s just incredible.”
Depp actually gives most of his praise to his director, Rob Marshall. Better known for musical exploits such as “Chicago” and “Nine,” the Oscar nominee found a kindred spirit in his leading man.
“What a gift to have someone of his caliber and someone of his talent to drive this beast and shape this strange animal into something,” Depp says. “Some filmmakers go into a film and it’s already shot in their head, it’s cut. I didn’t get that feeling from Rob. What I got from Rob was that he heard it as music in a weird way and knew tempo and kind of a way to finesse the sound which obviously became the visual. He’s unbelievably — his timing — not just his choreographic timing, but his sense of comedic timing is impeccable. I mean he would have us shave an eighth of a millisecond, just a tiny sliver of a beat and it would change the whole dynamic of a scene.”
The Tim Burton regular than adds, “The only problem is he’s really mean. He’s really mean. Look at him! He’s the kindest man alive.”
We’ll take your word for it Johnny.
“Pirates of the Caribbean” opens nationwide and in 3-D on May 20.