From directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth installment in the hugely popular Pirates film franchise that blends fantasy, humor and action into a new tale involving Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). This time around, the down-on-his-luck captain is being pursued by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who is hell-bent on killing Jack, and his only hope of survival is teaming up with a brilliant astronomer named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and a young sailor named Henry (Brenton Thwaites) to recover the legendary Trident of Poseidon.
At the film’s press day, co-stars Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites spoke at a roundtable interview about having each other to rely on, as the new cast members, working with such a talented cast, doing stunts in the costumes, seeing the final CGI, having the torch passed off to their characters, and their hopes for future films. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: What was it like for you guys, as the new cast members, to have each other to rely on?
KAYA SCODELARIO: It’s great when you have initial chemistry, and you understand each other, as a professional, and how you work. I had that with Brenton, where I knew that, if I was making a choice for the character, he could roll with it and understand the scene the same way that I did. I also felt that we could experiment with each other. There was no pressure. In scenes with Johnny [Depp] sometimes, you can feel nervous for suggesting a different idea. But knowing that we were both the newbies and on the same level, and that we had that trust in each other was really cool, for me. We could just learn, as we went along.
BRENTON THWAITES: What I loved about Kaya was that she wasn’t afraid to share ideas. That kind of confidence, conviction and fearlessness saves a lot of time. You can get right to the meat of the scene that’s happening, and it was nice to work like that.
What was it like working with actors like Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem on this movie?
SCODELARIO: Amazing! If you look around on set, it’s like, “Oh, there’s three Oscars!” It’s crazy! And there were other actors that I was really excited to involve with, as well, like Stephen Graham, who plays of the pirates. He’s one of my favorite British actors, of all time. For me, it was a real honor to get on set with him. Also, the directors come from an indie background, like I do, and that felt really safe and reassuring and exciting. We could really make the most of these actors because they respond well to that. Every day was like a lesson in acting. It was like going to the best drama school, ever, for six months, and it happened to be on the beach. It was good!
Kaya, how difficult was it for you to maneuver in your costume, for all of the stunt work?
SCODELARIO: I had a corset and 17 layers, but you get used to it. It’s weird. The first day on set, I thought, “How am I gonna do anything in this dress?” You’re not used to it. I’m very much a jeans and t-shirt girl, so I was quite nervous about all of that, but you adapt and you go with it. You get your husband to slowly loosen it at lunchtime without telling anyone, so you can have a good lunch, and you just make it work. It’s definitely odd.
THWAITES: I found the high heels on the boats to be pretty challenging.
SCODELARIO: There was a day when all of the men were complaining about the little heel that they had to wear on their boots. All of them were going, “Oh, these boots! My back in killing me!” Are you kidding me?!
Brenton, what inspired you to be a part of this franchise?
THWAITES: Just that I’m a fan. I was a fan since I was a young kid. They brought so many colors to the screen that we hadn’t seen, back in 2003. They were funny, filled with adventure, action, romance and the supernatural, and they’re always, at the forefront, right on the cutting edge of CGI technology. I remember being scared and excited and fascinated by that, all at the same time.
What was it like, the first time you saw yourself in the scenes with the ghosts?
THWAITES: I was wondering if I’d played that more, if I’d known [what it would look like].
SCODELARIO: I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? That’s the risk you take with CGI. You have to let your imagination decide it for you, which is scary. I remember thinking Javier’s hair was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It’s the creepiest hair you could ever imagine. I’m thinking that, maybe in the future, that’s how everyone’s hair will be. It will just slowly move around.
THWAITES: I remember thinking he looked like he had demented knees, with the way he would waddle and his hair would move. All that stuff was given to us, on the day, because he had a full face of make-up, his costume was there, and his complete transformation was definitely available to us. It was just the hair that wasn’t there.
Kaya, as an actress, what’s it’s been like to go from indie films to mainstream movies?
SCODELARIO: I did [several] indies in England and filmed in some real shit holes in the world. I’ve been in a muddy field, for hours on end, with no trailer and no coat. I love it! I love all of that.
THWAITES: Pirates was a muddy field with a trailer and a coat.
SCODELARIO: Yeah, that’s the difference! I try to treat every job with the exact same level of respect. When I go into it, it doesn’t matter what the budget is or who the lead actor is. You should have the same focus and the same drive, and you should have as much empathy for your character and understanding of them as you would, no matter what. But genuinely, the food is so much better. The food is unbelievable on a movie like this. The first time I ever saw craft services, my friend, Nicholas Hoult, was in a movie with me, called Clash of the Titans, and he tricked me. He said, “Do you have your wallet? You have to pay for that.” I freaked out and said, “Oh my god, I don’t have any money! What am I going to do? Do you mind lending it to me?” And the whole crew started laughing. They were like, “It’s free. It’s part of it.” There are those crazy differences, but the heart of it, I think, should all be the same.
What was it like to get to meet up with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, at the end of the film, knowing that they’re really passing the torch along to you guys?
THWAITES: He kind of passes me the torch at the beginning of the film, which is great because we see him, in the earlier movies, getting the torch passed to him by his dad and trying to save him, and Henry is doing the same thing now. It’s a continued theme from the first movie, with that idea of family and fighting to save family.
This film franchise has had some great strong female characters. Kaya, how do you think Carina Smyth fits in with the previous ones?
SCODELARIO: For me, personally, I think she’s the most progressive one that we’ve ever seen. She is just a simple woman, in this time, who doesn’t want to be put into a box. She isn’t a pirate. She isn’t a superhero. She is just an intelligent young woman who’s determined and has a mission, and she sticks to it. She’s an orphan, and the challenges she must have faced to get to where we meet her really fascinate me. I picture her being alone, from the age of 13, just wandering the world and going through the Caribbean, trying to find her identity. It was an honor to get to play her. I can’t wait to see, if we do more movies, what she could do next.
Where would you like to see your characters going, if there is another film?
SCODELARIO: For me, I’d love to see her taking the reins from Daddy Barbossa and see if she wants to incorporate her love of astronomy and horology into being a badass pirate. I think there could be something quite interesting in that. And maybe they can have babies and stuff, as well. Pirate babies.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is currently playing in theaters.