Geoffrey Rush Interview For ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’
Well shiver me timbers and blow me down! Geoffrey Rush returns as the legendary mutinous first mate Hector Barbossa in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,’ the fourth instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Hector Barbossa, a vile pirate returned from the dead, is the ultimate survivor. Having lost his leg—and the Black Pearl—Barbossa has traded black and silver for the grand blue and gold uniform of His Majesty’s Royal Navy. Now serving as a privateer and commanding the Providence under the Union Jack rather than the Jolly Roger, Barbossa claims to owe his allegiance to King and Country. But is it valour or revenge that pushes Barbossa toward the Fountain of Youth, a rendezvous with Captain Jack (Johnny Depp), Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and destiny? ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ is set to reach us land lubbers May 18th 2011 in both 3D and 2D…..Aaarrrggghhh!
Barbossa and Jack have a great conflict between them.
Geoffrey Rush: Yes, one of the underlying story-telling motifs of all four ’Pirates’ films, right back to the first film, is that ongoing conflict – over the ownership of the Pearl. I think there’s a line in one of the films where Jack says “the Pearl means freedom.” I think that’s the essence of being a Pirate, that you’re away from land-locked Europe, you’re not apart of a society, you’re apart of the brotherhood of the sea. Your ship is yours, it’s your sense of identity. So when you approach the wheel that’s what you own.
This is your fourth time around here. What is it about this particular script, and taking your character forward that really attracted you to come back?
Geoffrey Rush: I have to thank Johnny Depp because I think in the development of the screen play, he wanted to keep the Barbossa and Sparrow relationship like an old married couple, constantly bickering. It goes back to the first film, the ownership of the Pearl is at the heart of that conflict. I think it was only on this film that we started to talk about the Black Pearl as a sort of shared girlfriend, I think that kind of made that plotline a little bit more interesting than talking about a boat.
Over the four films they’ve kept shape-shifting my character which is fun. In the first film I start as the outright villain spat out of the mouth of hell. Then in two and three he became more of a diplomat, and I think now he’s really landed on his feet, or foot (laughs). Barbossa’s vain and arrogant and pompous enough to think that he actually does belong in the court, and that gave me a terrific new set of variables to play with which was a lot of fun.
Barbossa is back but not in completely on piece, he lost a leg.
Geoffrey Rush: In the very first film there was a memo that came down that we’re not going to have any eye patches in these films, no-one’s allowed to say ‘Aarrrggghhh!’ (laughs). But I slipped in one in a post-modern quote. In the third one, Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) loses his wooden eyeball and puts on an eye patch, we like that to be seen as maybe the first pirate that ever wore an eye patch. Similarly no one’s had a peg-leg so far, somewhere in the story coming between the end of part three and the beginning of part four he’s lost a limb. I did get into discussions with an amputee prosthetist because I was going to do the old Robert Newton thing of strapping my leg up. But he said it takes 18 months to 2 years to train your muscles to find the proper restructuring and balance and so forth. So I went to Rob (director Rob Marshall) and Penny Rose the costume designer and said “You know what? I think I can act the leg.“ I knew that the CGI guys could work with a blue stocking and do incredibly.
How was it working with Rob Marshall on this instalment?
Geoffrey Rush: He’s great, Rob’s handling of the pitch perfect tone of the film….because it’s a tricky genre, it bounces around between sometime screwball comedy, big doses of high-level action adventure – on a pretty spectacular level, in a good old fashioned swashbuckling kind of way. And in the midst of that you’ve also got this very delicate, fragile love story between the vulnerable mermaid and Sam’s character. I think Rob nailed it, he kept the pace at such an exciting level.
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