Aarrgh! Transforming into Davey Jones for the second and third installment of The Pirates of the Caribbean series
Bill Nighy had a stand-out performance in Love Actually as Billy Mack; we even got to hear his tremendous vocal chords. But, now, Mr. Nighy will be forever known as Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
As he'll explain, Davey is awaiting the repayment of a debt from Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) - but it's not any ordinary debt. As you've probably seen in the trailers, Davey is not a normal human - he's half man, half sea creature.
We had the chance to speak with Bill about joining the star-studded cast for the second and third installments of the Disney franchise. We also talked about his roles in the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film, Flushed Away; and he's also re-teaming with Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz.
Here's what he had to say:
What was your reaction when you got the call to come along on these next two movies?
Bill Nighy: Well, I was thrilled because just like everyone else in the world, I loved the first movie and I was very pleased to join. It's slightly daunting to be one of the new guys, along with Stellan Skarsgard ('Bootstrap' Bill Turner), Tom Hollander (Lord Cutler Beckett), and myself. But, I was made extremely welcomed by Johnny, Orlando (Bloom), Kiera (Knightly), and Gore (Verbinski), and Jerry (Bruckheimer), and everybody. Once I got over the initial confusion of wearing my strange computer pajamas, I was very pleased.
What was the first thing you all did as a group once you got together?
Bill Nighy: Well, I wasn't around when they first started shooting, but I imagine they probably went out for a Caribbean dinner; but we had many of those throughout the shoot. Mr. Bruckheimer knows how to throw a party, so he would come to the Bahamas a few times and throw a huge bash and they are very useful as a way of introducing people and encouraging people. But generally, everyone was very good and Johnny and Orlando were very decent and they just made you feel very easy.
Other than your 'computer pajamas', how much make-up were you putting on every morning?
Bill Nighy: Not too bad on this one, cause all I had was the face make-up in order to get into the creature. Also, I had to have a series of mapping dots on my face and beads all over my suit. But, other than that, it's not as bad as when you're actually looking at the creature; the computer guys did a great job with it.
How would you describe Davey Jones in this movie?
Bill Nighy: Davey Jones is a man who took a wrong turn a long time ago and has been punished in an extraordinary and profound manner, having been transformed into this sea creature - which is half man, half crab, and half something else that's so mysterious to name. He's been hurt so profoundly that he decided to tear his heart out so that he would never have to feel that way again. The only release he gets now from pain is to make other people suffer and he does it very, very, very well. He has a great talent of arranging the suffering of others.
So there is a debt on Captain Jack Sparrow; what is it?
Bill Nighy: Well, I could tell you that, but then I'd have to kill you, and I'd get fired. But, I will say if Davey Jones would come into your life, and I pray he never does, but he'd come in at the point of death. He would offer you a deal that's a really lousy deal, but at that point, he's the only game in town. And he will collect; he comes to collect.
You're in the third film, so obviously he doesn't collect his debt.
Bill Nighy: Well, extraordinary stuff which I can't tell you yet, even in the third. But, in the second, the twists - the writers (Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio) are phenomenal and it's brilliant what they've done, given the job at hand. To take a story on from where it ended in the first one, cause it was so successful, and it was quite a difficult task and there are so many twists and turns in the second one that the relationships with everyone in the movie, people change sides all the time throughout this story both in the second one and the third one. It's quite extraordinary; and it's funny - especially Johnny's character, the writers are just fabulous. They just give him some of the best comic lines I've ever seen in a script.
Are you done with the third one?
Bill Nighy: No, there's still a lot to be done on the third one; we did shoot some of 3 and all of 2, obviously. it was a long job, and I just feel lucky that I don't have to do what Gore does cause I don't know how he does it - he's just brilliant, complete brilliance. To keep two movies in your head, and the fact they change all the time, stuff changes all the time, and he's involved with all the changes. The story has improved throughout the time and it's quite an achievement and it's not over yet. But we have some more to do; but there were some days when go from the second movie to the third movie and try and keep your head grounded; it's quite difficult.
So with your singing background in Love Actually and Johnny's in Cry-Baby, did you guys just break out in song all the time?
Bill Nighy: No, I spared them my singing; and even though I have been paid to sing, it's usually comic singing. I don't readily inflict that kind of pain on anyone, but we did swap some musical stories cause he's a fool for music the same way I am. There were a few people on the set that were fans of music and he and I swapped a few discs; we did take time to discuss those kind of matters.
Did you guys talk about certain scenes together?
Bill Nighy: Oh yeah; Johnny's a brilliant man, and a wonderful man, as well and exemplary co-worker. When I first arrived, we worked out a few scenes together; there were some small accidents and he's extremely inventive, he never stops working. He's fabulous to work with.
To switch gears a little, your next film will be the animated hit, Flushed Away; what was that like getting in the booth for that?
Bill Nighy: It's kind of strange actually at first; but it's a free process. You're able to do things over and over and over again, so you can hone it down. I was playing an Albino, ex-lab rat with brain damage from over-exposure to hallucinogenics and he's therefore, not the brightest spark in the pack. And I get to do sing various songs; the last time I was there, I did a duet on 'Close to you' by The Carpenters. I do sometimes love my job; you walk into the booth and you're a brain-damaged rat and we want you to sing a Carpenters song. That's when I start to get interested; it's a cool way to make a living.
Who was the duet with?
Bill Nighy: Well, in fact, it's convoluted; it's when Kate (Winslet) gets captured and her Walkman goes off at a very crucial moment when she's about to be tortured. And rather amusingly, someone steps on her Walkman and that's the song that comes up. Whitey is about to torture her, but it turns out that's one of his favorite songs. And I get to sing; I'm not going to get any prizes for it. And they let me sing the whole song; they were encouraged enough to let me sing the whole song.
Maybe it'll be on the soundtrack?
Bill Nighy: I hope so; and I sang as Dylan the Rabbit in The Magic Roundabout - 'You Really Got Me' by The Kinks.
So you're joining Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz; how did that come about?
Bill Nighy: They just invited me to come in; I'm only in it briefly, but I play a very important person. I have a gas whenever I'm near Simon or Edgar Wright or Nick Frost, his co-worker; they're such brilliant guys and they make me laugh. I'm also in a teenage- James Bond movie called Stormbreaker; I play the kind of 'M' figure. Sophie Okonedo and I do together what Judy Dench does on her own in the real grown-up James Bond. Mickey Rourke is in it, Alicia Silverstone plays the young hero and governess, and Robbie Coltrane is the Prime Minister; that comes out right after Pirates.
So if you had one last thing to say about Pirates, what would that be?
Bill Nighy: If you're like me and loved the first movie, just go ahead and not even think about it. It's got everything you loved about the first one and everything you require; it's romantic, it's adventurous, and it's profoundly funny.
Of course, you can check out Bill Nighy as Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest when it sails into theaters July 7th.