Grab your black eyeliner, red bandana and a bottle of rum because the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow is back on the big screen.
The hugely anticipated Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth voyage for Johnny Depp’s iconic pirate incarnation.
This chaotic figure has delighted cinema-goers since the first instalment of the franchise, The Curse Of The Black Pearl, in 2003.
That film and its subsequent sequels, Dead Man’s Chest (2006) and At World’s End (2007), earned $2.6 billion and now the cast and crew – some old, some new – are back, and this time the adventure’s in 3D.
“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 in love for Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow,” says producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s been involved in the franchise from the start.
For Depp, there was never any doubt he’d set sail as Captain Jack once again.
‘‘There’s great comfort in playing him because you have licence to be completely irreverent, completely subversive, absolutely abstract in all situations,” says the actor. “I know him so well that it just comes naturally.”
Be warned, changes are afoot in this latest adventure. However much we relished Captain Jack’s escapades, there was a feeling the franchise required something of a reboot.
“Pirates two and three became quite sub-plotty,” Depp acknowledges. “This one is a little closer in tone to the first film – more character-driven, more subject-driven. It has a freshness.”
The main guideline for On Stranger Tides was to create a standalone story rather than a continuation of the trilogy.
Writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio dug deeper into the treasure chest of pirate history and mythology and, inspired by a 1988 pirate novel of the same name as this film, take audiences on an adventure to the fabled Fountain of Youth. Along the way there are zombies, mermaids, stunning vistas and thrilling action-packed sequences.
It begins with Captain Jack escaping custody to run amok across 18th century London before being bundled unwittingly aboard Blackbeard’s ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Ian McShane is in tremendously grizzled form as the legendary and barbarous pirate.
“Blackbeard is probably the most famous pirate who ever lived,” says the actor. “There’s a legion of stories about him and whether they’re true or not, he’s now part of pirate mythology.”
Blackbeard’s feisty pirate daughter Angelica is played with zest by the Spanish actress Penelope Cruz.
“She’s a pirate and has the pirate mind – tricky, manipulative and dangerous when she has to be. She loves games but she has a good heart and her motivation is always a good one,” explains Cruz. “She’s full of contradictions and that’s what makes the character so interesting.”
It’s 10 years since she last worked with Depp, on the film Blow.
“He’s so humble, smart and one of the funniest people I know,’’ Cruz said.
And she relished the chance to have fun with the fact that Angelica is Jack’s former lover.
“Angelica had a relationship with him in the past but he betrayed her and broke her heart. Now she enjoys looking for revenge,” she smiles.
Geoffrey Rush, who returns for a fourth time as the pirate captain turned privateer Hector Barbossa, couldn’t be happier with the addition of Cruz.
“Having Penelope in 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.”
In fact Barbossa and Captain Jack’s own relationship isn’t dissimilar from a bickering couple.
“If these two could actually collaborate and not lock horns all the time, they would be the most fantastic team, but they’re worlds apart. Barbossa is a strategic thinker while Jack bobs along the river of life improvising, and taking huge risks, which always pay off.”
Rush says he was excited as soon as he got wind that there was to be a fourth film.
“I thought that after the first three they’d explored every possibility from the world of swashbuckling, and there was nothing left about the golden age of piracy to write about. But I hadn’t thought about Blackbeard – or mermaids!”