'Pirates' Crew Docks at Cannes (Cannes)


Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane exchange compliments, crack jokes in advance of Saturday night's festival screening of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

Even before Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides officially docked at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, where it is having its international premiere Saturday evening, the filmmakers signaled that they are ready to set sail on further Captain Jack Sparrow adventures.

Appearing at one of the festival’s requisite press conferences, Johnny Depp, whose eccentric performance has powered the franchise through four installments, assured his questioners that he isn’t ready to pack up Jack just yet.

“For me, with any character, when you run out of stuff, when you run out of opportunities and possibilities for the character, it’s over with,” Depp said. “With Captain Jack, I feel like there is much more to be had. Essentially as long as the stories and scripts are good and we have filmmakers like (director) Rob Marshall, we’ll be in good shape.”

So, as for the possibilities of more Jack Sparrow on screen, he said, “the possibilities are endless.”

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s been steering this particular ship for Disney since the first Pirates movie appeared in 2003, testified to Depp’s commitment to the enterprise, saying, “This is his movie, the Captain Jack adventures. We hope to continue them if the audiences embrace this one.”

If anyone wondered why a 3D popcorn movie had been booked into the hallowed halls of the festival’s Lumiere Theatre, that question wasn’t voiced at the presser, which was largely a love-in, with the press tossing flowery inquiries to the cast, who, in turn, paid tribute to each other talents.

Penelope Cruz, a new recruit in this installment as Angelica, a fiery spitfire who crosses swords with Jack, paid compliments to her costar, with whom she’d previously appeared twelve years ago in the drama Blow. “His level of creativity is so high and so free and so inspiring -- he’s really a unique human being,” Cruz said. “I hope we get to do many, many more of them.”

Repaying her compliments in kind, Depp said of sparring with Cruz on screen, “Whatever you might throw out to her, she’s going to grab it and chuck it right back in some oblique direction.”

Even though she was in the early stages of pregnancy, Cruz jumped right into the movie’s rigorous set pieces.

“They protected me every single step of the way,” the actress said of how the production guided her through the action scenes she was asked to do.

Marshall, who also directed Cruz in the musical Nine, added that “Penelope is an extraordinary physical dancer,” which made for an easy transition into the strenuous world of Pirates. In order to accommodate her pregnancy, he explained, some of her scenes were moved forward in the production schedule -- and then toward the end, her sister Monica acted as her stand-in for some wide-angle and long shots.

Ian McShane, another new addition to the company, revealed that to prepare each day to play the villainous Blackbeard, he would listen to a recording of Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather. He also noted the biggest challenge of his part was  “trying not to trip over your sword” since his sword was “three times larger.” But in the end, he was pleased with the results, since this is one of the few movies he’s made that he’s been able to sit down and watch with his grandchildren.

Asked whether he was scared at all how critics might react to the movie, Depp offered dryly, “Yeah, I have always feared the critics. Critics scare me. And that’s why we came to Cannes.”

More diplomatically, he admitted that the new Pirates isn’t “your normal Cannes fare,” but he added, “We’re all very honored.”