Transforming into Will Turner's father in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
He's one of the newbies of the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, but that didn't stop Stellan Skarsgard from jumping right into the action. He plays Bootstrap Bill in this second and third installment of the Disney series, Will Turner's father. Of course, he was extremely familiar with the story when he got the call to come aboard this film; he was excited just to be a part of such a magical franchise.
When I first heard Stellan was going to be playing that role, I knew instantly he was the perfect person - his voice just fits a character like Bootstrap Bill. Then, after I saw the film, it was solidified. While I was talking to him, I started picturing Bootstrap in my mind; I almost couldn't stop.
I walked into Stellan's room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles to find he was more than comfortable - a button down blue shirt, jeans, and bare feet. I teased him a little about making himself at home; he told me that's he's more relaxed without the constraints of shoes.
We actually did get down to business after that and talked about his role and what's in store for Bootstrap in the third film. Here's what he had to say:
After speaking with Bill Nighy a few weeks ago, he was telling me you guys had already started shooting when he got to the set; did you guys talk about what was going on or did you get right into the part?
Stellan Skarsgard: Well it was weird because I was the only one in make-up; everyone else was working with a crew in grey pajamas and dots on their faces. I spent 4 and a half hours in make-up, and then I worked with Bill Nighy and he has those dots on his face that I've never seen on an actor before. And I realized real fast that he acts as if he knows he's got those tentacles on his face - he's acting extremely precise and big to help the CGI people. And I'm standing there with my muscles in my face trying to be subtle which made it very funny actually. I had the advantage of using my own face, but the disadvantage of spending four and a half hours in make-up.
So what does this mean to you now that you're smack-dab in the middle of this franchise?
Stellan Skarsgard: I don't know, I don't think of it like that. I met with Gore in London and I liked him a lot, and at that point, there was hardly any script at all. But there were a lot of drawings of what it would look like, but talking to Gore, who's a very smart director and a very smart man, made me interested in the part. I thought I could have fun doing it and it was basically why I did it. I don't really think of it as it being a big financial adventure. What I knew was it was a big adventure movie for summer release; there was space for actors in it to have fun. When you work with Gore, he cares about the actors - and I had a lot of fun.
When you got that make-up on, did you become Bill?
Stellan Skarsgard: I'm not really that kind of actor; I come from European theater background, where we might play two or three characters. And maybe thankfully, I didn't become Bootstrap Bill because I don't know if I would have appreciated it. At first, I thought maybe these muscles in my face would block me, block my acting, but the way Joel Harnow did the make-up, it followed my muscles exactly - every time I moved my face, it moved with me. It's silicon, the muscles were hard, and putty; I was covered with glue all day long.
How quickly did you take that off at the end of the day?
Stellan Skarsgard: It would take an hour and a half to get it off every day. We couldn't shoot more than three days straight because I would get rashes. The rough thing wasn't having it on, it was taking it off. It was new material every day.
How would you describe Bootstrap Bill?
Stellan Skarsgard: He's probably the saddest figure of them all in the film. He's the father of Orlando's character. And as you know from the first film, he's spent a lot of time undersea, but now he's under contract working for Davy Jones for 100 years, which isn't a good deal.
You're still shooting part 3?
Stellan Skarsgard: Yeah, we go back in August. He's going to get worse before he gets better. We have six different stages of becoming more and more part of the ship and barnacles and that process continues into the third one.
Stellan Skarsgard: When we started shooting 2, part 3 was still a work in progress in terms of the script. So there were still a lot of questions we continuously had to deal with because we had to build it for part 3 as well; but in general, the structure was there already.
Is there anything you spoke with Ted (Elliott) and Terry (Rossio) about where you want to see Bill go either of these two movies?
Stellan Skarsgard: I don't remember; we sat down and talked through the script and everything I responded to in different ways and they always listen to you. But it's not like we re-wrote anything.
What about anything beyond the third one?
Stellan Skarsgard: Well, in the fourth one, I hope he gets a girlfriend without muscles.
What about the relationship between Bill and Will?
Stellan Skarsgard: Well, I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about part 3, because things happen between Bill and William - some good stuff, some bad stuff.
Did you get to join in on any of the singing fun that went on set?
Stellan Skarsgard: No, and I think everyone should be grateful for that!
So, no singing for Stellan - but a whole lot of fun on screen! Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest washes up in theaters July 7th; it's rated PG-13.