ABOUT THE MOVIE PRODUCTION
Comments on the film by
Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski
Part 1 of 2 Parts
Success can be a tough taskmaster…and coming off of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which garnered more than $1 billion internationally and took third position for the top-grossing films of all time, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski were absolutely determined to once again rise to, and then go beyond, audience expectations. “It’s scary when you make a picture that’s such a huge success,” confesses Bruckheimer.
“You never quite know. It was against conventional wisdom that a pirate movie based on a theme park ride could be such a hit. Then we came back with the second film, and it’s common knowledge in our business that a sequel will make 20 to 30 percent less than the first one.
And yet, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ made almost double of what ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’ took in.” Bruckheimer attributes the massive success of the first two “Pirates of the Caribbean” films to the enormous amount of hard work put in by the filmmakers and talent on both sides of the camera.
“You start with the writing, and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio did a brilliant job creating great new characters and exciting arenas for them to work in. Then you add a director who’s as talented as Gore Verbinski, who gave audiences such a thrill ride in the first film, and took them even further in the second.
And what really makes it all come together is when you see actors like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush going through the paces of what Gore, Ted and Terry worked so hard to create with characters who are engaging, funny, romantic and witty. It took a lot of energy, brain power and time on the part of Gore, Ted and Terry to work out all of those amazing characters, situations and set pieces.
“Then you go behind the scenes,” continues Bruckheimer, “with Rick Heinrichs’ production design, Darek Wolski’s cinematography, Hans Zimmer’s music, and the rest of the people who worked so hard on these pictures and helped make them the huge success they became.” For the third film, the producer and director encouraged screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio to push that envelope even further…quite literally, to the ends of the earth. “What we set for ourselves with Jerry, Gore, Johnny and everyone else,” says Elliott, “was to figure out a way to do two more movies that were of a piece with the first one, and yet still be unique in their own right. What we had to do with each one was, as quickly as we could in the story, satisfy expectations. And then set ourselves the challenge to go past that, and create events that people could never anticipate. Which isn’t easy.”
“The overall theme that we’re dealing with in AT WORLD’S END,” adds Terry Rossio, “is the nature of what it takes to be a good person, and each person faces that struggle. We embrace the idea that all pirate movies are about moral ambiguity, and good people can be forced into circumstances wherein they do something bad. So from the point of view of every character, they all have to go through that challenge, that transformation, facing their own ability to do something they’re not comfortable with, and making 20 really tough choices. In that sense, every character in the story has a villainous moment at some point.”
“There’s never a trust between any of our characters in the movie,” adds Jerry Bruckheimer. “There’s always a devious plan to benefit their own ends. AT WORLD’S END is a movie about who’s going to end up where, when and how, with constant one-upmanship.” Once again, as with the first two films, Elliott and Rossio were constant presences on the set, from the Caribbean to Hollywood and beyond. “Their contribution was enormous,” says Bruckheimer, “because they would work with Gore and the actors right on set to make sure everything was right for the movie and their characters.
“Screenwriting is a real craft,” Bruckheimer explains. “Back in the 1930s and ’40s, Hollywood decided to bring out journalists, novelists, anyone who could write, and many of them failed at screenwriting, which is a very different art form. Ted and Terry are masters of this craft. They love movies, old and new. They’re on top of everything happening in film. They know what it takes to write a great character, because they’ve studied and worked at it for years. And they’re fresh…Ted and Terry take pirate movie conventions that might seem mundane and clichéd, and flip them in a way to make them interesting and new. Along with Gore, they’ve completely re-invented the entire pirate movie genre.”
The geographic range of the story expands all the way to old Singapore and mythical realms beyond, such new characters as Chinese pirate Captain Sao Feng are introduced, and one crucial character is reintroduced: Captain Barbossa, freshly returned from the other side of the pale, this time in an uneasy alliance with his old nemesis Jack Sparrow against the forces of the East India Trading Company.
We also get to meet the entire international Pirate Brethren in their hideaway of Shipwreck City, a rogue’s gallery of cutthroats from all the seven seas, including the Keeper of the Code, Teague, played by none other than immortal Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Also returning from the first film are Murtogg and Mullroy, the two thickest skulls in 18th-century British uniforms. Using the famed Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney Theme Parks (the last one in which Walt Disney himself had a personal hand in creating) as a springboard, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” defying some less than enthusiastic anticipation for a “movie based on a ride,” was a smash hit everywhere it played upon opening on July 9, 2003, amassing a domestic U.S. gross of $305,413,918 million and, including its record-breaking overseas engagements, a worldwide total of $653,913,918.
The film also received five Academy Award® nominations, including Best Actor for Johnny Depp. So successful was the first “Pirates” opus that the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was modified by Walt Disney Imagineering at both Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in time for the opening of “Dead Man’s Chest,” so that characters from the films, including Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones, were seamlessly inserted in a way that retained what made the original ride such a perennial favorite among Disney theme park visitors…with hopes, of course, that the second film would at least equal the first in popularity. But not even Bruckheimer, Verbinski, nor The Walt Disney Studios could have predicted what would happen when the second film in the trilogy, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” opened on July 7, 2006.
The zeitgeist is a mysterious entity, and “Pirates” had obviously plugged directly into its circuit board, as “Dead Man’s Chest” became an instant cultural phenomenon. Upon its opening three-day weekend, the film blew every preceding U.S. box-office record apart, amassing an astonishing $135,745,219, surpassing the previous champ, 2002’s “Spider-Man,” by more than $20 million. “Big Booty for Bruckaneers,” screamed a headline of the Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety in its unique parlance, pointing out that the three-day numbers even beat the standing four-day weekend record…that 21 the Friday totals of $55.5 million set a new mark for the biggest one-day numbers ever…that by Saturday, its $100.2 million take was the biggest ever two-day gross, which meant that “Dead Man’s Chest” was the first movie in history to break the sacred $100 million mark in 48 hours.
By this point, the film had taken on major event status, as evidenced by the legion of “Pirates” fans, sweeping across the demographic board, who lined up for hours, many sporting an array of buccaneer gear, some so comprehensively attired from head to toe that it looked as if they stepped right off the set. By the end of its second weekend, “Dead Man’s Chest” had passed $200 million on its eighth day of releaseanother record sent crashing to the groundand amassed $258.2 million in only 10 days, with an additional $125 million in 24 countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Any lingering doubts about the Pirates’ sea “legs” were laid to rest after the third weekend of “Dead Man’s Chest,” in which the film soared past four major new releases and became the fastest film in history to pass the $300 million mark in the U.S. and Canada (and broke “The Curse of the Black Pearl’s” $305 million milepost). And overseas, opening in 11 new markets, it was the same story over and over again. Number one everywhere. Long queues from Tokyo to Mumbai to Warsaw, and back again. By September 2006, “Dead Man’s Chest” became only the third member of the billion-dollar club and became the third highest-grossing film, internationally, in motion picture history.
The public had spoken, and very loudly too, across the entire world. The film was also honored with four Academy Award® nominations, winning the Best Visual Effects prize for John Knoll, Charles Gibson, Hal Hickel and Allen Hall. The filmmakers all knew that audiences, although having been thrilled by the first two films, would obviously be seeking the “Astonish me” factor in the third. And they were fully prepared to reward their expectations. “We wanted to tell a story which would be an epic struggle between freedom and conformity,” says executive producer Mike Stenson. “A fundamental question of the movie is, why are we supposed to like pirates? It really does come back to the sense that when you’re growing up, you want to be a pirate…you want to do something that’s about freedom, no rules, not dealing with authority. As we go through our lives, we have to deal with more and more issues of dealing with authority and conformity…but that doesn’t mean that on a Friday night you don’t want to leave the suit and tie behind and spend a couple of hours of experiencing that darker, more swashbuckling and independent version of yourself. Which is what I think elicits people’s passions for these movies.”
“The first movie wasn’t even on the top ten preview list for the summer,” adds executive producer Chad Oman of Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
“Then ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ did double what we hoped, which was pretty amazing. The problem is that after the celebrations came the realization that we had to really deliver the goods for AT WORLD’S END.”
“In a way, the most satisfying aspect of ‘Pirates’ is that it has become this kind of cultural phenomenon that audiences have embraced so passionately,” says executive producer Bruce Hendricks.
“You’ve got to give Jerry, Gore, Ted and Terry, and Johnny and the cast credit for that. This has forever changed the approach to the pirate genre, which was basically dead. It’s now been re-invented, whether or not we make more pirate movies, or someone else does, there’s a different way of looking at pirates now.” In the aftermath of the “Dead Man’s Chest” sweep of worldwide box offices, the stars of the film were still processing its impact.
“It’s shocking, you know,” admits Johnny Depp.
“I’m still sort of amazed that so many people in so many corners of the globe embraced the films and Captain Jack, and in a lot of ways just sort of claimed ownership of the character. Nothing like this has ever happened to me, but what’s happened with ‘Pirates’ hasn’t happened to many people. It’s very, very moving and emotional, the idea that people feel this very strong connection with Captain Jack. You know, seeing little kids dressed up as the character, talking like him. It’s just amazing.” Depp was enthusiastic to pursue the development of Captain Jack’s journey in AT WORLD’S END.
“When we last saw Jack in ‘Dead Man’s Chest,’” Depp explains, “he was swatting his way into the mouth of Kraken, and when we pick him up again in AT WORLD’S END he’s in Davy Jones’ Locker, which is kind of beyond the idea of purgatory, a kind of hell in which he’s surrounded by himself. I thought it was a brilliant idea of taking this guy and not have him face his demons, but rather the various sides of his personality.”
“It’s an interesting idea that Jack Sparrow has an honest streak that will likely be his undoing,” adds screenwriter Ted Elliott. “He says it in the first movie, it actually does happen in the second one, and in this third film Jack has said, in effect, look, I’ve given up on the whole honest-streak thing because we all saw where that one led to. That becomes Jack’s struggle throughout…what are you willing to do to get what you want?”
“Johnny Depp is a very surprising, unusual and unique actor,” adds Jerry Bruckheimer, “who creates memorable, original characters that audiences just fall in love with. Captain Jack was unlike anything that audiences had seen on screen before, a drunken, swashbuckling character who can barely stand up sometimes, yet is so clever and smart that he outwits everybody around him. And Johnny does this on every movie. Whether it’s Willy Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ J.M. Barrie in ‘Finding Neverland’ or ‘Donnie Brasco,’ he creates something so indelible that you can’t quite put your finger on how he invents that magic.”
Geoffrey Rush, an unabashed enthusiast for the three films, was thoroughly delighted to once again transform himself into Captain Barbossa. “I’ve always thought that ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ and ‘At World’s End’ are really one big film, with a cliffhanger interval,” he notes. “I say that quite selfishly, because I don’t do anything in the second film. I’m dead. But I have a fabulous sort of curtain line at the end of the movie. But AT WORLD’S END galvanizes 15 major plot lines that have all been simmering through the first and second movies, and kind of brings them home.
“There’s a shift in Barbossa’s character in the third film,” Rush continues. “I think that in ‘Dead Man’s Chest,’ Davy Jones becomes the villain or dark force at the center of the film. And with Barbossa being absent, when he re-emerges, he actually comes back as a kind of politician, which is great for me because it meant I didn’t have to play the same flavors, or work off the same dramatic palette as in the first film, which was pure rivalry with Jack. I mean, that’s certainly still there, but my job in AT WORLD’S END is to make sure that the romantic true heritage of the pirates being the vagabond brotherhood at sea maintains its identity against this rather ruthless corporate world of the East India Trading Company that wants to stamp it out. So I become an arch manipulator, and I think Barbossa’s familiar qualities of betraying people, and forcing them to do things they don’t particularly want to do, is how he works.”
“We’re all still in character,” adds Orlando Bloom, “but thankfully, the character development is really great in the third film. Will Turner definitely has a few more edges. In the second movie, the major conflict for Will is whether to choose between his father or his love for Elizabeth. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to rescue his father, Bootstrap Bill, and he also wants to be with the girl he loves, but the two are opposite magnets that push away from each other.
“By the time AT WORLD’S END begins,” Bloom continues, “Will has embraced the pirate code that he so hated at the start of ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl,’ to pursue his own purposes. A promise has been made that he will save his father’s life, and Will will try and do everything he can to honor that vow…not forgetting that he still loves Elizabeth, and wants to get her back into his life. The third movie reveals the true nature of all the characters, and it’s great to go on a journey with Will where you’re not quite certain which direction he will turn to.”
“There’s a certain amount of guilt that Elizabeth feels about having delivered Jack to the Kraken at the end of ‘Dead Man’s Chest,’” says Keira Knightley of her increasingly strong-minded and determined character, “but I think that was something that had to be done at the time. But then she finds out that, actually, what they really need to do is save him. Elizabeth is certainly more than the girl who stands in the corner by this point in the story. It’s been great to play a girl who’s strong and interesting, and isn’t afraid of a fight.” “Keira became a woman through the course of making these three films,” notes Jerry Bruckheimer, “and Elizabeth is a character who has an enormous arc. She starts out as a kind of spoiled rich governor’s daughter and, through the course of the story, becomes a woman who bucks convention and becomes as fierce and competitive a fighter as Will and Captain Jack.” Bill Nighy was also delighted to take Davy Jones more than a few steps further in the third film, and again infusing the devilish character with a large dollop of recognizable humanity. “Davy is now in service to the East India Trading Company and Lord Cutler Beckett, certainly the first time he’s been in service to anybody. He’s no longer the free lord of the seas.
In AT WORLD’S END, you see how love and betrayal wrecked Davy’s life and ruined his existence. He just wants Calypso, and peace from this terrible love pain. He suffers in a major way. Davy is a lover, and he’s been deeply, deeply hurt, devastated by the loss of this woman. People like Davy, who never connected with anyone, ever, and then do and lose it, cleave for all time. And these are dangerous men, you know, they’re almost certainly emotionally damaged. It’s a central fact of Davy Jones’ life that he’s never getting over it.” “I have had a long life with Gore already, and it’s a very pleasant life,” smiles Stellan Skarsgård, who returns as Will Turner’s cursed father, Bootstrap Bill.
“And it’s surprising because when you work on a production this big, you would think that working in front of the camera would be very different from the kind of independent films I’ve done before. But it isn’t, because it’s very intimate around the camera. You work basically in the same way, or you’re free to try things. Gore is not only a technical director, but he’s very interested in actors and to see what actors can produce. It’s one of the reasons I wanted this job…because when I saw ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl,’ I saw a bunch of actors who enjoyed themselves and obviously had a lot of fun.” Bootstrap Bill also continues on a progressive arc throughout the third film. “It’s pretty sad, because his deterioration has gone quite far.
He’s already falling apart, and only has glimpses of remembering and vague ideas about his relationships to people. As with other crewmen of the Flying Dutchman, Bill is becoming more and more a part of the ship, losing his humanity.” Explains the compulsively witty Jack Davenport of his character, James Norrington, “Where you left me off at the end of the second film, I was still modeling homeless-person chic…but with Davy Jones’ heart in hand. I well know that I managed to give the heart to probably the last person on earth or indeed the high seas that I should have given it to, it’s now allowed me in the third film to once again dress like a Mardi Gras float. I’m much more comfortable in blues and yellows, and I once again sport the deeply flattering white wig. So joy is unconfined all around.”
On a somewhat more serious note, Davenport says, “In AT WORLD’S END, Norrington comes to realize that he’s made a terrible mistake, and he has to live with that. In terms of his feelings for Elizabeth, he’s not the same swooning chap that he was in the first film, which I think is a good thing in terms of deepening the character. She broke Norrington’s heart, very embarrassingly and very publicly. Subsequently, I don’t think he harbors any great illusions about them sailing off into the sunset together. In the third film, he looks on rather helplessly at the gigantic mess he’s created, and he has some opportunity for redemption.”
Tom Hollander, the charming Englishman who plays the distinctively uncharming Lord Cutler Beckett, was also dazzled by the success of “Dead Man’s Chest.” “Being in the third biggest-grossing film of all time, I felt like it was as if I’d been standing next to the man who discovered penicillin,” jokes the actor.
“It was thrilling, a fantastic feeling. Being a part of something which people absolutely love is just wonderful. It’s been quite a tough job, but amazing as well.” In the third film, Beckett’s cold-bloodedness ascends to even more dastardly levels. “Davy Jones can be seen as the main villain of ‘Dead Man’s Chest,’ but Beckett becomes his boss in AT WORLD’S END, so technically speaking, I’m on the top of the heap of villainy,” adds Hollander. “Davy Jones’ heart is my secret weapon, what’s known in show business as ‘leverage.’ Because he who has the heart of Davy Jones controls the seas. So even though Beckett is physically unintimidating to Davy Jones, he has his heart which, although a gloopy, nasty, smelly thing, gives him all the power.”
In addition to the stars already established in the two previous films, Bruckheimer and Verbinski brought some special new faces aboard for AT WORLD’S END, most notably international superstar Chow Yun-Fat, cast as the smart if duplicitous Chinese pirate, Captain Sao Feng. “You want to hire enormously talented actors who are at the top of their game,” says Bruckheimer, “and that’s the definition of Chow Yun-Fat. He’s a masterful actor, an international star, and a perfect addition to the trilogy.”
“They were all pirates in reality, and betrayal was normal,” notes Chow of his character. “Therefore, Sao Feng treats it as a business transaction. There is no good or evil in the pirate world, and Sao Feng is neither a good person nor a villain. They are all pirates, and that’s how pirates are.” In terms of the films’ international appeal, Chow explains, “I think everyone has a fantasy to do things that cannot be controlled by parents or the authorities. Pirates are rebels, so especially in the minds of young people, the movie has global appeal.” For such grizzled “Pirates” veterans as Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, who play the tagteam duo of Pintel and Ragetti, AT WORLD’S END presented another opportunity to expand their characters. “In the first film we were pretty vicious,” says Crook.
“We shot the servant in the governor’s house straight away, really nasty, cutthroat villains. In the second film, we lightened up a bit and became a real double act. But I think that Gore, Ted and Terry were keen to keep a vicious streak in us, because we’re pirates when you come down to it, so we can’t always just be goofing around. So I have a good kill count in AT WORLD’S END. I think I dispatch three or four souls.” “We were funny bad guys in the first movie and funny good guys in the second one,” adds Arenberg. “And from here on out we’re funny good guys no matter which team we’re on. We certainly don’t gain any intelligence. I always say that Pintel and Ragetti still share half a brain.”
Every Saga Must Make A Start…
…And for AT WORLD’S END, that beginning was as early as April 6, 2005, when the first scenes for the film were shot in production designer Rick Heinrichs’ Tortuga set constructed in Wallilabou Bay on the beautiful and atmospheric island of St. Vincent in the West Indies, giving that tiny country a three-forthree batting average, having hosted all of the “Pirates” films. And ironically, the sequence was one of the final moments in the film. Of course, shooting this scene was in concert with the simultaneous filming of “Dead Man’s Chest,” and it’s doubtful if the challenge of producing and directing not one but two massively scaled epics could have been more daunting to Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski and their collective production teams and company of actors. But the point was, they were up for it, and then some.
“Anytime you make a movie it’s a challenge,” says Bruckheimer. “But when you try to prepare two movies at the same time, that’s a serious challenge. You just don’t get the kind of preparation time that you need for the second movie, let alone the first movie. “But from the producer’s point of view,” he continues, “it was the only way to make the second and third ‘Pirates’ films. You have Gore Verbinski, who is a directing star based on the first movie and his other work. You have Johnny Depp, who has been a star for years, but who broke out into a huge, mainstream audience on ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl.’You have Orlando Bloom, who blossomed even before the first ‘Pirates,’ and became a superstar after it was released. And then you have Keira Knightley, who’s come into her own right as a phenomenal young actress. To get all of them together for two movies, if you did it separately, there would be three or four years in between before you could figure out their schedules and make all of their deals to get slots.
Blocking out their time based on two back-to-back movies, as well as Gore and the screenwriters, Ted and Terryas well as keeping together the rest of the crewmeant that this was the only way to go.” Although the majority of filming in both St. Vincent and the following West Indian location of Dominica were for “Dead Man’s Chest,” Verbinski also took full advantage of the exotic locales for required AT WORLD’S END sequences as well.
A convoy of production vehicles bumped along half-constructed or barely constructed roads to access St. Vincent’s Black Point Beach, a spectacular stretch of sand and rugged surf. On Dominica, the very first scenes shot on the re-designed and re-built Black Pearlwhich had sailed almost 2,000 nautical miles from the Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabamawere filmed, re-uniting Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush as his old nemesis, Captain Barbossa.
Here on Dominica, at Capucine Point, we see the Black Pearl and her passengers approaching Shipwreck Island, one of the most spectacular settings in AT WORLD’S END. Despite the fact that less of St. Vincent and Dominica are seen on screen in AT WORLD’S END than in “Dead Man’s Chest,” executive producer Eric McLeod points out that “in the end, technically, this film was shot in more places than ‘Dead Man’s Chest.’ In addition to St. Vincent, Dominica, the Exumas and Grand Bahama Island, AT WORLD’S END was also filmed in different locales in Southern and Central California as well as Hawaii and second unit filming in Greenland and Niagara Falls. Gore wants to take the audience on a journey to places they haven’t been to before.”
With the lion’s share of filming during this period going to “Dead Man’s Chest,” followed by a summer hiatus while the huge open studio tank was being constructed on Grand Bahama Island, the next scene to be filmed for the film wouldn’t be until August 31, 2005, with Chow Yun-Fat joining the cast as Captain Sao Feng for scenes shot on Disney’s Stage 2 in Rick Heinrichs’ lustrous sets representing the Chinese pirate’s cabin on his ship, the Empress.
Two days later saw the start of the filming of the first major stage setpiece for AT WORLD’S END, and for many it represented the apotheosis of Rick Heinrichs’ artistry, and that of his entire department: a massive, fanciful interpretation of Singapore in the early 18th century.
Constructed on Stage 12 at Universal Studios, this amazing funhouse of a set, comprising some 40 individual structures, was built on top of an 80-by-130-foot tank, and was basically comprised of a harbor replete with Southeast Asian thatched huts and houses built on stilts (known as kampongs), and a swath of the fabled city itself, more formally Chinese in design, including a marketplace, adjacent street where all sorts of dubious business takes place, and a vast bathhouse frequentedway too often, from their looksby local pirates. Heinrichs even designed and built the lowroofed area underneath the bathhouse in which workers keep the water heated with large furnaces.
This was the stage for an early and crucial sequence in AT WORLD’S END, in which Will, Elizabeth and Barbossa search for secret charts which could lead them to Davy Jones’ Lockerand therefore to Captain Jack Sparrow, who was sent there at the finale of “Dead Man’s Chest” by the Krakenfrom Singapore Pirate Lord Captain Sao Feng. What ensues is a tremendous action sequence which spills from the town area onto the rickety boardwalks, strung with illuminated lanterns, that connect the kampong houses on stilts above the harbor, pitting the pirates against soldiers of the East India Trading Company.
“Singapore is a mélange of different influences and architectural styles that we researched when we were studying what Singapore might have looked like at that time,” says Heinrichs. “In those years, Singapore was not a particularly well-documented place until the 19th century, so we looked at a number of other Chinese cities for reference. We took a deliberately fantastical approach, creating something like a Chinese/Malaysian expressionist style of what we think Singapore might have looked like at the time. “The bathhouse is a nasty example of hygiene that pokes fun at the spa sensibility running rampant today,” continues Heinrichs.
“We have a lot of mushrooms and other fungi growing out of the wooden tubs, and in fact, the pirates have spent so much time lazing around the tubs that they also have mushrooms growing out of them! They don’t seem to leave their filthy ways on the ships…they bring it with them into the bathhouse.
The whole point of this is to give you a wonderful sense of nausea at what filthy beasts and brutes the pirates are. We’ve added lots of thickeners and color to the water so that it looks unwholesome. Captain Sao Feng has his own ‘hero niche’ in the bathhouse, with an imperial dragon on the wall behind it. One of the fun things that we did was to design the entire floor of the bathhouse to have a meandering, planked look that’s almost organic, so every one of them had to be hand-cut.” Heinrichs’ longtime collaborator as set decoratorsomeone who shared an Academy Award® nomination with him for both “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Dead Man’s Chest” in the Best Art Direction categoryis Cheryl Carasik.
“I’ve done four films pretty much back-toback with Rick, and we just have a great relationship,” she says. “Rick starts cooking right away, so I have enough information from the very beginning of prep to focus and fine-tune the big picture.” Carasik’s set decoration for Singapore, half of which was actually imported from Asia, was an incredible grab bag of baskets, bushels, food products, flickering Chinese lanterns, crates, barrels, buckets, painted scrolls, hanging laundry, all made of rattan, bamboo (much of which Carasik brought back from the Dominican locations), wood and palm fronds, just as they would be in Southeast Asia. “It was one of the biggest sets I’ve ever done in my career, and probably the most challenging for the amount of time in which we had to do it,” Carasik recalls. “There were little nooks, apothecary and pottery shops, and interiors that all needed to be dressed, because you never know where Gore is going to want to shoot.”
Atmospherically, the Singapore set actually felt like Southeast Asia, with heavy, dripping humidity caused by the thousands of gallons of water in the tank utilized to create the harbor area, combined with the heat emanating from the powerful lighting equipment. There was even a visible fog which could always be seen just above the water level!
AT WORLD’S END presented new, and occasionally overwhelming, challenges to stunt coordinator George Marshall Ruge, assistant Daniel W. Barringer and their fabulous team of stunt doubles and players which, this time, included a large Asian contingent featuring martial arts experts of all calibers. The “Singapore” sequence, involving Captain Barbossa, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Gibbs, Tia Dalma, Pintel and Ragetti, Cotton and his parrot, Marty, Captain Sao Feng, Jack the Monkey and approximately 200 assorted Chinese pirates, East India Trading Company militia and various Singaporean citizenry, spills out from a grotty bathhouse, onto the streets and alleys of the city, and then onto wooden boardwalks and walkways connecting thatched stilt houses over the harbor.
“The Singapore sequence began as an unknown entity and one-line description in a treatment,” notes Ruge. “Without a lot of warning it took on massive proportions, with a rapid evolution into a complex sequence on a very difficult set. We had limited time to prepare, design the action, choreograph and rehearse. Because the sets were still being built and the paint was still drying, I ended up calling rehearsals at very odd hours that often extended into the night.
“The bathhouse portion of the sequence presented a lot of problems,” Ruge continues. “Complex fight choreography was required in a very confined space with lots of people and lots of obstacles in terms of the baths themselves. The set was raked and incredibly slippery, with the steam rising from all crevices. The action was designed to be absolutely character-driven, fresh, intricate and crisp. There was literally no room for error, with gunfire and swords flying everywhere. Once the action leaves the bathhouse and escalates out onto the streets of Singapore, another set of problems emerged.
The action had to be designed, utilizing the very narrow wood-planked walkways that were elevated above the water by bamboo scaffolding. This required performers taking 8- to 14-foot falls into the water, which was only 3-1/2 feet deep with a concrete bottom.” Ruge’s solution was to sink large sections of black foam rubber and anchor them to the soundstage floor. The problem is that foam rubber’s natural inclination is to float, so holes needed to be cut throughout the foam to allow the water to pool above the submerged pad and hold it down. Chow Yun-Fat, who had already performed several scenes on Grand Bahama Island, was a major attraction on the Singapore set, especially to those members of the company who had followed him for years as he ascended the ranks of superstardom in Asian and U.S. cinema.
“He always said that he was honored to be there,” recalls Reggie Lee, who portrays Tai Huang, Captain Sao Feng’s aide-de-camp. “Here’s a megastar who we all idolize, who in fact is so humble and friendly to everyone. Yun-Fat’s work is spectacular, he has a great work ethic, and having a chance to act with him was just spectacular.” Also participating in the Singapore battle were some of the now-famous non-human performers of the “Pirates” series from animal coordinator Boone Narr of Boone’s Animals for Hollywood and head trainer Mark Harden, especially Jack the Monkey, again portrayed by either Chiquita (female) or Pablo (male), depending upon the required abilities.
AT WORLD’S END, even more than the previous film, really gave Pablo and Chiquita a chance to shine as simian thespians, such as being dressed in little Chinese costumes in the Singapore sequence, stealing a Roman Candle and firing it during the pitched battle with the East India Trading Company troops. “It was a literal blast,” recalls Harden.
“Pablo and Chiquita had to handle a lit candle and touch the flame to the wick, and it took over 60 takes to take it right. It wasn’t just the monkeys, it was a harmonic convergence of all sorts of things going awry. But I was really happy. I mean, everybody teased me that it took 66 takes, but I was proud that the monkeys were willing to do it in 66 takes to get it right!”
Also appearing in the film, and whenever and wherever the silent Cotton (David Bailie) appears, are either Chip or Salsa, the macaws who play the pirate’s squawking pet bird. Has Bailie’s relationship with the animal grown over the last three films? “If I had anything to do with it, it would have done, but the bird seems remarkably indifferent to me. People only recognize me because of the wretched creature!”
Pirates of the Caribbean Collectibles and Toys
2007 All rights reserved. Free Movie Entertainment Magazine. All rights reserved.
Just when he’s needed most, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), that witty and wily charmer of a pirate, is trapped on a sea of sand in Davy Jones’ Locker. In an increasingly shaky alliance, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) begin a desperate quest to find and rescue him. Captain Jack’s the last of the nine Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court who must come together united in one last stand to preserve the freedom-loving pirates’ way of life. From exotic Singapore, to World’s End and beyond, from Shipwreck Island, to a titanic battle, this adventure’s filled with over-the-edge action, irreverent humor and seafaring myth and magic. Everything has led to this twisting, turning, wild swashbuckling ride in this final chapter of the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy.
• Actors: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport
• Directors: Gore Verbinski
• Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
• Language: English, Spanish
• Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
• Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
• Number of discs: 2
• Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
• DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007
• Run Time: 165 minutes
Pirates of the Caribbean -
Dead Man's Chest
(Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (2006)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom Director: Gore Verbinski
Captain Jack Sparrow's life is in debt to the legendary Davey Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchmen who are supernatural warriors out for blood. Facing possible eternal damnation, Jack must save himself with help from Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, who must come to Jack's aid.
Pirates of the Caribbean -
The Curse of the Black Pearl
(Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (2003)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush Director: Gore Verbinsk
From producer Jerry Bruckheimer (PEARL HARBOR) comes PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, the thrilling high-seas adventure with a mysterious twist. The roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow's (Academy Award(R) Nominee Johnny Depp) idyllic pirate life capsizes after his nemesis, the wily Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), steals his ship, the Black Pearl, and later attacks the town of Port Royal, kidnapping the governor's beautiful daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). In a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl, Elizabeth's childhood friend Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) joins forces with Jack. What Will doesn't know is that a cursed treasure has doomed Barbossa and his crew to live forever as the undead. Rich in suspense-filled adventure, sword-clashing action, mystery, humor, unforgettable characters, and never-before-seen special effects, PIRATES is a must-have epic on the grandest scale ever.