Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp sequels sets were ‘wiped out’ after hurricane

Johnny Depp discusses Pirates of the Caribbean in 2017

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Disney were extremely impressed by the success of Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003. The film made an incredible $650 million on a $150 million budget and even claimed an Academy Award nomination. After that, Verbinski was asked to make two more films as soon as he could. The writer and director cobbled together the basis of a script and set off to shoot the two movies, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, back-to-back.

Speaking to Collider, Verbinski opened up about the toll the long, laborious shoot had on him and his star, Depp.

He said: “Oh yeah, no, I was 30 pounds overweight. Literally, there’s no sleep. Zero. I remember Dick Cook going: ‘Are we going to make the date? Can you make the date? Can you make the date?’

“And it was mixing and colour timing and editing and visual effects flying, the usual, but you’ve come crashing into an impossible post schedule exhausted because you have been approving visual effects and spending nights cutting all while you were still shooting.”

The director added: “We got hit by a hurricane, half the set got wiped out. Our tank didn’t work. We had to pull stuff back to LA. It was pure survival mode by the time we got to the third [film].”

Verbinski explained the pressure came from Disney Studios behind him wanting to meet release date schedules.

The tight organisation forced scenes from Pirates 2 and Pirates 3 to be filmed back-to-back, even though they had not been completely scripted yet.

The director continued: “It’s release date filmmaking. So, they wanted two more as soon as possible. There’s a hypothetical amortisation in that process. While you’re here in this location, shoot that scene from Pirates 3 before you strike the set.

“It’s just in reality… this is story telling not construction. And we were still making blueprints ‘ya know? We shot the end of Pirates 3 five days into shooting Pirates 2, because we were leaving that location.”

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Verbinski detailed his confusing scheduling, adding: “We’re never going back to Port Royale. We’re moving onto a different Island. We had to go up to the Exuma, shoot our tank. We had to go to Dominica. We weren’t going back to St Vincent.

“So, we came to St Vincent, just shot a few days. And there’s one scene that had to be shot for the very end of Pirates 3 five days into 2, not knowing what the script of Pirates 3 was yet.”

Despite the stress surrounding the movies, the director added that it was all part of the filmmaking process.  

He said: “But look, people are making those movies. What are they doing right now? They’re doing two Mission: Impossible movies right now. It’s a different beast. You just embrace the chaos and figure it out.”

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During filming Verbinski was forced to embrace his lead actor, Depp, and his own vision for the movie.

Speaking about shooting The Curse of the Black Pearl, the director said: “So, you’re making everybody nervous. The studio’s nervous. Everybody’s nervous about Johnny Depp’s performance.

“Everybody’s nervous about the story. It’s convoluted – they’re returning the treasure, wait they’ve taken the treasure back, they’re cursed? Everything about that had a spirit of madness to it.”

The studio’s nerves about Depp progressed to the point where they thought he was playing a “gay pirate”.

After Depp’s scenes were shot, Disney execs also revealed they couldn’t understand what he was saying.

Depp revealed in an interview he was questioned by an exec at the time who asked: “What the f**k are you doing?”

The star smiled and replied: “I said: ‘Well don’t you know all my characters are gay?’ I really expected to be fired, but I wasn’t for some reason.

“They were actually gonna put subtitles under my character, they couldn’t understand Captain Jack.”

The Pirates of the Caribbean series is available on Disney Plus. 


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