Rob Marshall discusses directing the forth installment of Disney's popular franchise
Hundreds of fans dressed as pirates and traveled to Disneyland yesterday at the crack of dawn to be the first in the world to see the new trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the forth in the popular Pirates of The Caribbean series. The trailer, which debuted online in the afternoon, was introduced by Oscar nominated director Rob Marshall (Chicago and Nine), who makes the leap from directing big screen musicals to action-adventure with his new film. Before the trailer, there was a short introduction to the history of the franchise and the Disneyland ride that it is based on. Finally, the trailer was presented in 3D and the fans in the packed theater had an opportunity to get their first glimpse at the return of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), as well as new characters including the series' first female Pirate, Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and the evil Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane (Deadwood).
After the screening, fans were treated to a pirate show in the park, which included an actual pirate ship with a band of singing pirates on board. The fans then had the opportunity to go on the ride that inspired the entire film franchise, which has now been updated in order to reflect the recent movies. We then had a brief opportunity to speak with director Rob Marshall, who is taking over for Gore Verbinski, who directed the previous three films. Marshall discussed the new movie, his memories of the ride that it is based on, Johnny Depp's performance and what new twists fan's can expect from the upcoming film. Here is what the director had to say:
To begin with, what are your earliest memories of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride at Disneyland?
Rob Marshall: When I was fifteen, it was the classic 1976 bi-centennial year and we did a cross-country tour from Pittsburg to Disneyland. I remember coming here as a kid and going on the "Pirates" ride and loving it so much because you felt like you were in a film. You know, you have the big moment where it opens up, you see the ship and you feel like you are in a movie. So it's surreal for me to think, now I'm making that movie.
Did some of those memories come back when you were shooting this film?
Rob Marshall: They did. What's funny about making a Pirates film, or any kind of action-adventure, is making it an adventure as well because you are going to all these locations. For us, because 3D was involved we had to use these huge 3D rigs, which actually makes us pioneers in that way. Not many movies have actually taken 3D equipment into real locations, usually it's stages and green screens. We were taking them into caves, waterfalls, jungles and swamps. It was pretty amazing so we were experiencing an adventure while we were also making that adventure so it was really great.
Can you talk about why you decided to make this film in 3D?
Rob Marshall: Well the reason for 3D, for me, was because it has to be something like a world where you need to enter. Otherwise, if you are doing an emotional drama, there is no point really. But if you are creating a world then there is nothing like amercing yourself in it. You can be in the world of the Pirates and there is nothing like experiencing the journey of the adventure with Jack Sparrow. So it's really cool for this movie, specifically, to be in 3D.
Are there any nods to the original theme park ride in this new film?
Rob Marshall: Yes, there are two and I'm not going to tell you what they are, but they are fun. Right before I started this at the beginning of the year, we came here (to Disneyland) in the morning, before anyone arrived and we went on the ride. Someone was there to stop the ride for us and I got out, specifically in the area that we are recreating, and looked up close with my production designer and my creative partner. We were sort of looking around and it was really cool. So there are two pieces in there. There really aren't many left but we did find a couple of cool things.
Will this new film have a different look and tone from the previous movies in the series?
Rob Marshall: Well look, Jack Sparrow is in the film so obviously he is there but his hair is a little blonder. The story takes us to different places, which makes it nice that it is not the same old thing. The whole opening, the first third of the film is in London. So we start on dry land and there is an imposter that Jack is looking for. He then escapes from the palace, gets captured by King George and there is a huge carriage chase. There are all sorts of fun stuff in London. Then we set sail and that is sort of the second act. It's a new ship and it's Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge. Then Barbossa has a new ship called the Providence. The third act is this incredible jungle adventure through caves where they are looking for the Fountain of Youth. So what is nice is that there is variety to the story, which is great.
Were there adjustments that you had to make as a director coming on to a successful franchise like this?
Rob Marshall: Well you inherit some things and so you make piece with that but I found that to be great. The reason I did this film and the reason I love it is two words ... Johnny Depp. He is the greatest. He is a brilliant actor as we all know, a genius, but he is also the nicest person in the world. You just want to spend time with him. He's hilarious, warm, a gentleman and elegant. He's the best. So that is what made it such a treat. I always wanted to do an adventure. I come from choreography on Broadway and that is where I started, so I love movement. I love choreographing big sequences like this so I thought it was really natural for me to do an action-adventure. Everyone wanted to know if I was going to make it into a musical and the answer is no. That would be bad.
Since Johnny Depp has his role of Captain Jack Sparrow nailed down at this point, as a director, was there room to work with him so the character could grow and change?
Rob Marshall: Yes, you know he actually asked me to do this film. So he's an actor and I think he really wanted some guidance. He knows this character so well that I'm smart enough to know that you let him do what he does because he is so brilliant at it. But every actor wants guidance and he is a real collaborator in that way. It was fun because in addition to Geoffrey Rush, who is back as Barbossa although his character is different in this film because he has joined a different side and works for the King, which is really shady, but you also have Penélope Cruz as the first female pirate. You have a whole different side of Jack and there is a real competitor there. They have a love hate thing and try to kill each other during the entire film. Then Blackbeard is probably the most evil character that there has been in this series. He is unbelievable, Ian McShane who plays him is extraordinary. Then you have these two young actors that are incredible. One is Sam Claflin who plays a missionary, he is on the ship with Blackbeard and then there is a mermaid.
How did Geoffrey Rush feel about his character changing sides in this movie?
Rob Marshall: Oh, he loves it. He's an actor's actor. He was so excited to do something different and unique. He loved it. Barbossa is under there, believe me, but he loved playing another color.
Finally, can you talk about casting Penelope Cruz in the movie?
Rob Marshall: Well I was doing Nine in London and we went to dinner, which is where I asked her to do it. I wasn't sure because it really has to be someone that can go toe to toe with Johnny. So they have to be funny, sexy and strong. So you start thinking, who is that? There are not many that fit that description. I thought she would be so perfect. I asked Johnny about her before I asked her and they had done a movie together years ago called Blow. He loved her and Jerry Bruckheimer loved the idea so I asked her. She was so excited that she jumped out of her chair and said that she had always wanted to play an action hero. So there is fighting, fencing and she is amazing in the film.