The writing team behind the Disney franchise speak
They've created some of the most iconic characters in modern movie history - based on an amusement park ride. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio will now forever be associated with Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann - along with all the other supporting characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
In the second of the series, Dead Man's Chest, they've brought in a few new characters to shake things up for our trio of heroes - mainly, Davy Jones, played by Bill Nighy and Bootstrap Bill, played by Stellan Skarsgard.
What you may not know about this franchise is after the first film did so well, Disney had the idea to make both the second and third movie together. Their's and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's first demand was to hire back Ted and Terry to write the stories. That was quite a task for the two, but they were definitely ready for the challenge.
When I had the opportunity to talk with Ted and Terry, I knew I was going to be talking to two of the most imaginative people. We even got into a little bit of what will be happening in the third and final movie of the trilogy Here's what we talked about:
When you get down to writing the second and third movies, what do you talk to Johnny (Depp) and Orlando (Bloom) and Keira (Knightly) and the rest of the returning cast about these characters?
Ted Elliott: Well, actually, Terry spent more time playing chess with Orlando than he did talking about the character.
Terry Rossio: I have to say I remember going up to Keira once, on Pirates 1, and said, 'So the character, the story, anything, do you have any questions you want to ask, or back story? How you're thinking about it?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Ok.' That was it, she got it, she played it.
Ted Elliott: With Johnny, a lot of it is talking about story, about the character. He's very aware that you need to have a really good story to have the character work.
Because Keira was so young in the first one, how much growth did you see in her between the two movies?
Ted Elliott: It really was having Keira in that story; we wouldn't have done that story without Keira. We know Johnny can play Jack, and we know Orlando can play Will. But we got Keira to make this story work; she's extraordinary.
Terry Rossio: Keira, in a way, you can say she didn't grow because she was so good to begin with. But what we discovered that anything needed to be done, if she was in the scene, it was going to turn out great - action, comedy, romance - it was going to be great.
What would you say was the hardest part about writing these two?
Terry Rossio: Leading up to the first one.
Ted Elliott: Actually, that's not really true; the first one has so much power by the fact that it's different, I think people underestimate that. The first one, people were surprised in that kind of summer movie. The second one, you do not get the advantage of surprising the audience. The challenge is how to re-create that thrill without being able to surprise them, the thrill of the discovery. They want more of the same, and we need to change that.
Terry Rossio: People want that new experience of discover and new-ness. So it was a matter of creating a new story with these characters.
What was the gamble of making these back to back?
Ted Elliott: There's a ridiculous gamble of making these films in the Caribbean during hurricane season, constructing these ships.
Terry Rossio: I was just thinking about a scene where it called for sailing on the Caribbean, on the ship are Naomie Harris, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly -
Ted Elliott: This is shooting for 3 -
Terry Rossio: And I was thinking anyone of those actors can open a movie - Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Chow Yun-Fat, Kevin McNally - I was looking at that and there are four movies right there.
Ted Elliott: And we also knew Bill Nighy and Tom Hollander were lurking around in the background somewhere. And Bill Nighy's performance blew me away; he was acting through what he had.
Where did Davy Jones come from?
Terry Rossio: The power of a villain can come through some kind of human aspect of them. Davy Jones' character is reacting to some kind of heartbreak. It's so much fun to write.
Ted Elliott: To make it an interesting character to play or write, there had to be some human aspect to him.
What are you looking forward to for Pirates 3 and beyond?
Terry Rossio: The thing I will say about 3 is the ending - we have to end the trilogy.
Ted Elliott: You have to find an ending that plays naturally from the beginning of the first film and know that people can walk out of the theater, having experienced a climax.
Terry Rossio: There's a part in it that has about 16 speaking parts to it and it's an incredibly pivotal scene in the story and I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's been a challenge to write and it and we have it.
Ted Elliott: It's really been fun to do different things and trying something new. In Pirates 3, the emphasis is on love, on finality, making final decisions; we're actually doing stuff that's different.
Terry Rossio: When we ended up the shaping of the ending to 2, there was skepticism, but it definitely worked.
Boy, you can say that again - it worked big time! Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest opens in theaters July 7th; it's rated PG-13.