May 20, 2011 in Features

Treasured role

Cruz joins fourth ‘Pirates’ with jolly mate in Johnny Depp
David Germain Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Johnny Depp, left, Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane, background, perform a scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
(Full-size photo)

Also today

For reviews of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and the weekend’s other new movies, see today’s 7 pullout section.

‘Pirates’ franchise looks to No. 5

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is just hitting theaters, but star Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are already thinking about a fifth ” Pirates” film.

So what would the 47-year-old Depp need to transform himself into the rum-swigging, swashbuckling Capt. Jack Sparrow again?

“Essentially the same ingredients that have gone into each and every one, especially this one,” he says. “I would be in if it was right, for sure.”

Bruckheimer is already at work on the script. But Depp also has other projects on his plate, including a cameo in the big-screen adaptation of the 1980s TV hit that made him a star, “21 Jump Street.”

He also has “The Rum Diary” set for release in October, and he’ll soon get to work on “The Lone Ranger” with three-time ” Pirates” director Gore Verbinski.

First up, though, is the latest ” Pirates” installment, which reunites Depp with one of his heroes, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who again plays his father.

“To be able to bring him back into the ‘ Pirates’ fold, where he most certainly belongs, was a gas,” Depp says. “Just spending a couple days sharing a trailer, it was as close, I suppose, as being in a rock ‘n’ roll band with him as you can get.”

-Natalie Rotman, Associated Press

The hardest thing about a pirate’s life for Penelope Cruz was not all the swashbuckling and sword fighting and sailing the high seas.

It was not even the added rigor of being a pregnant pirate as she filmed her scenes last summer for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” while carrying her first child, a son with husband Javier Bardem born early this year.

Cruz said her toughest job on the fourth “Pirates” flick, opening today, was staying in character opposite Johnny Depp as woozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow.

“I would look at him doing the things he does as Jack Sparrow, and (director) Rob (Marshall) had to cut so many takes with Johnny or me, because we could not control ourselves,” she says.

“He would provoke me and always make me laugh. It was harder than the swordfights, for sure.”

Cruz, 37, was easy pickings for Depp, Marshall and the rest of the “Pirates” crew, who landed her without having to put out much bait.

Known largely for her work in fellow Spaniard Pedro Almodovar’s films – including “Volver,” which earned her first Oscar nomination – and Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which won her the supporting-actress Oscar for 2008, she was a fan of the original “Pirates” trilogy.

She had been friends with Depp since they co-starred in the 2001 crime drama “Blow,” while Marshall directed Cruz to her third Academy Award nomination for the 2009 musical “Nine.”

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer had Cruz’s picture on his planning boards as the character was being developed, even before Marshall signed on to direct.

Marshall popped the question to Cruz over dinner in London as they were finishing work on “Nine.” When he brought up the idea toward the end of their meal, Cruz jumped up and said yes as soon as he hit the word “pirates.”

“I was sad, because we were finishing the process of ‘Nine,’ and it was a wonderful time that we had together, and I love Rob very much,” she says.

“We went to dinner, and at the end, he told me, ‘Would you like to do “Pirates 4” with Johnny and me?’ And I said, ‘Why would you wait to ask me after the dessert? Why didn’t you ask me as soon as I sat down?’

“I hugged him and I said yes, even before I read the script. … Then I read it, and I discovered it was this manipulative pirate and a character so full of colors and contrasts and contradictions. …

“I thought there were a lot of possibilities. It’s so much fun to play a liar, because I’m not a good liar in life. Other people think that if you’re an actor, you’re supposed to be a good liar in your life. It’s almost the opposite. No, no, I’m not a good liar, but I love playing a liar.”

Cruz plays Angelica, Sparrow’s embittered former lover, the daughter of dreaded pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane).

Angelica, her dad and Sparrow follow explorer Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth, with pirate-turned-British- privateer Barbossa (returning co-star Geoffrey Rush) in pursuit.

As the production date neared, Cruz found out she was pregnant. Marshall and Bruckheimer worried she might back out, but she remained game, and they changed course a bit to accommodate her condition.

The schedule was adjusted to shoot more of Cruz’s scenes before she started to show. The costume designer created an elastic corset to allow her to move more freely, and her outfits were constantly being altered.

“I just had a new fitting every three weeks,” Cruz said. “We kept having fittings, but they were very, very kind to do it.”

She did all of her close-up action scenes, though her pregnancy forced the filmmakers to use a stunt double on more of the wide shots.

“And we were very clever how we shot her,” Marshall said. “It took more time, but it was worth it.

“When I was looking to cast Angelica, I knew when I saw it on the page that this was quite a big bill to fill. You have to go up against Jack Sparrow, this iconic character, as a female. You have to match him and go toe-to-toe with Jack.

“She’s got to be so many things. She has to be charismatic and sexy. She has to be a great actor and funny and physical.

“I realized for me that there was only one person. That was Penelope. So we knew that we’d rather work with her and make it work, because she was so right for the role.”

After two films with Marshall, Cruz is reuniting with two other filmmakers for a couple of Italian tales.

She co-stars with Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and Alec Baldwin in Allen’s next film, shooting this summer in Rome. Then she’s doing an Italian-language film with actor-director Sergio Castellitto, who directed her in the 2004 drama “Don’t Move.”

Her work on Allen’s film will take only three weeks, which suits Cruz’s desire to balance career and family now that she’s a mom.

“I’m sure naturally it alters or affects your decision process,” she says. “What is good is that for the last five years or so, I didn’t want to work nonstop, like four movies a year, three movies a year, like I did before.

“I was a workaholic. The last few years, I’ve been doing one a year, two maximum, if they were short.

“So I think I found a good, healthy equilibrium between the time for work and the time for, you know, everything else in life.”

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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