Long gone are the days of the damsel in distress in action films, and in Disney’s new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Kaya Scodelario takes on a strong feminine role like no other. Carina Smyth is a strong character who is not only intelligent, educated, soft and feminine but is one ready to get into the mess of things. Kay brings to the character a level of emotion and caring when it is most needed.
We were able to sit down with Kaya in LA earlier this month and talk to her a bit about bringing Carina to the screen, what her motivations were and what she hoped fans would get from the role and the film.
Can you talk a little about the outfit and how it played into your role?
Yeah I mean there’s something really cool about a corset, it does feel quite empowering actually, because you have to sit up strong and then, you know, the first day is awful. And I’d get my husband to secretly loosen it up at lunchtime so that I could eat and stuff. Actually it does feel very strong and I like that Carina’s dress, it isn’t perfect, it’s actually tattered and old and ripped up and dirty as that helped me understand a bit of her back story. I think this is a dress that she’s held onto because it’s kind of the only one she has, and she’s managed to make it as practical as possible to her.
What was it like being the only lead female character for the film?
I’ve been incredibly, I shouldn’t say lucky because it should be like that- but the guys have never made me feel like the only woman [on the cast] especially on Maze Runner. They always treat me exactly the same. I’ve never felt like I’ll walk on the set and they’re like the girl is here, we have to stop farting
They continue to do that anyway. And I’ve grown up with guys, I love them my best friends are guys and I like that energy. I think they can- once they get over you being a woman, it can actually be kind of bonding and nice and but it was interesting. And the last two movies have been very male dominated.
Carina comes in as a brand new character in this movie for the franchise and she’s a really strong feminine character, which was actually really refreshing to see. And she can hold her own. What was it like bringing that into a completely male dominated story line?
It’s always important for me. Every role I look for a woman that I would have liked to have seen at thirteen on the big screen. And it’s a huge responsibility because people forget in blockbusters that we’re not simple, there are multi layers and there’s a lot going on and she has a lot of that. I mean, she’s an orphan, she’s a survivor. She’s also stubborn and argumentative and she’s also funny and flirty and there’s so much to her. And I’m grateful that they wrote her this way.
Usually with a film this size, unfortunately there isn’t time to layer out a character too much. because there’s so much going on. And I made a real effort with her to try and hit all those beats, it’s something that I hope my son grows up watching and respects in women and understands in women, that we aren’t just the Disney princess or the love interest or the damsel in distress and she’s certainly not any of those things.
There was a lot of action and stunts in this film, did you do your own stunts?
I do, I really love to do all that stuff. It’s not things you do every day in life, you know. If you get the opportunity to do it, especially when you have a great crew that you know it’s going to be safe and done the proper way. But I actually injured my shoulder, I popped out something in there on the black pearl of all places. And so afterwards it was kind of tough we had about four weeks of filming still so I had to wear a sling in between takes and I had to go quite easy on it.
But I did all the swimming, I swam in the Australian ocean with the sharks and every other thing that can kill you there. And it was a lot of fun, I love having the opportunity to do that stuff.
The scene where Carina arrives sees the tattoo was a very emotional scene. What did you tap into in order to bring those emotions forward?
Well I have a real personal connection with all that. My father lived far away from me and he’d always say if you look up at Orion’s Belt, we’re both looking at the same star. And he passed away.
So it was very easy for me to tap into that moment and also getting to work with an actor like Geoffrey. He’s, well you look in his eyes, he’s wonderful. He’s just a really giving actor. And for me yeah a film like Pirates, you don’t expect to have that really strong emotional beat, especially as an actor, to get a chance to in the middle of all this craziness just kind of go quiet. And really focus on that relationship, it was an honor. And I think we both- we really thought it was important and we wanted to treat it with as much respect as possible.
Do you have any recommendations or kids or young adults that have dyslexia that are interested in theater, any tips for them that’s helped you?
Well the biggest thing for me was just knowing that I wasn’t the only one. I remember when I was twelve and I was diagnosed, I was really freaked out by it because I didn’t understand what it was. For me it meant I’m dumb, that’s like all I knew, I thought well this just means that I can’t ever achieve what other people can. And then they had a poster up in my school saying Tom Cruise has dyslexia.
And that instantly to me was like, oh okay, well he’s doing all right – maybe I’ll be okay and it’s just about having an open conversation about it. There are great resources out there, my school was wonderful, they gave me extra time in exams, I had a one to one teacher in classes for my reading because that’s where I really struggled, and just have an open conversation about it and then to find support groups and to make sure that the school also understand what it is. It’s kind of a taboo subject, we don’t really know much about it. So the more we can discuss and the more resources we can bring into schools, I think the better.
If there were more movies in this franchise, what would you like to see for your character?
I would really like to see her exploring her love of the stars and astronomy. And going out to the ocean. Also this new identity that she has, she’s the daughter of a infamous pirate, and I think it’ll be cool to see whether she takes that on or not. What she does with that new kind of mission in life.
Carina and Jack Sparrow have a lot of fun scenes together, what was it like working with Johnny?
It’s wonderful. I mean when you watch the movie, you get to see the one take that’s selected, we get to see the fifty five other ones that he comes up with on the spot. And it’s he’s just a genius, he really is, there’s a reason why he’s so successful. And he’s good at what he does. My first day on set with him, I had to be really serious in a scene, and I just laughed and laughed and laughed and I was like I’m going to get fired, there’s no way they’re going to put up with me, he just brings it every single time.
Speaking of laughing – How many takes did it take for the Horologist scene?
Oh so many! That was really fun, I loved the guys that played the pirates – Adam Brown, Danny Carinm Steven and Graham they’re such great guys and we had a real good friendship before that. We thought, let’s just play with this, let’s just go into it. And did it a few different ways a few different reactions and every time was just brilliant. I mean that’s their scene.
In the movie you know a lot about astronomy, did you do any studying or any background for that before you did the role?
Yeah I did some basic stuff, unfortunately I had about three weeks between being cast and then moving my life to Australia for six months and learning lines and with my dyslexia it takes me a lot longer to learn a script. So I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to kind of really research it. I made sure that I was comfortable with the time piece that I have to use.
I made sure I knew how that worked and all the ins and outs of it. But since promoting it, it’s something that I feel like now I’d actually really like to get into a little bit more.
How were you cast in the role? Did you have to do anything special to be considered?
I was actually I heard about it years ago, maybe four years ago they had a first draft of the script and the character was two characters, because they still hadn’t really decided what they wanted to do with her. And then it came back around couple years later and I was shooting in Albuquerque with my Maze Runner guys. And I had to do a self tape and I didn’t have enough time.
So I said boys please help me. And I had one playing Jack Sparrow and just all the Maze Runner boys doing this audition tape for me, which was really sweet of them. And then I flew to Los Angeles to meet with Brenton, and we sat down and we did a chemistry read and we just got on really well. He’s a really nice guy, he’s a nice kid. And as an actor we kind of bounced off each other and we really enjoyed flushing out the scene, working out what we wanted to do with it, and it went from there.
How much input to you have into your character, in terms of improvisation?
What’s on the page is always the best thing possible and because we have these incredible writers that know what works for these movies. But I am very instinctual, and that’s how I like to work, I like to improvise and I like to make sure that the dialogue fits my voice and my character’s voice and they were really great about it. The directors are really open, every morning we’d sit down run through what we were going to do for the day. They’d ask if I had any issues with any of the dialogue, if there’s anything I felt would work better. There was a day where Johnny actually came into my trailer beforehand and reworked an entire scene with me, which I was amazed at, that they still do let you have that creative freedom.
What do you want the takeaway to be from the film?
I hope that they understand that this is an adventure for the whole family and it’s something that should be seen on the big screen and the best technology possible. We spent six months making this and two years in post production for a reason. That’s how it should be seen and that’s how the whole family will enjoy it at its best.
Where would you like to see this character grow in the pirate world for your son to see in this movie and your character progresses?
I’d just like him to be a bit more interested, I took him to a screening with his little baby headphones and he just seemed to look at his feet the whole time. Oh toes- so I just hope by the time we do the next one that he’ll actually like to interact with it a bit more. No I think he’d like to see mommy wielding a sword and getting to do some more action-y stuff, I think that would be really cool.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Trailer
About Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales:
Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” also stars Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Golshifteh Farahani as the sea-witch Shansa, David Wenham as Scarfield, Stephen Graham as Scrum, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.
Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are directing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Terry Rossio and Brigham Taylor. The story is by Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio, and Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” drops anchor in U.S. theaters on May 26, 2017.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is now in Theaters in 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D! Like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES on Facebook and follow Walt Disney Studios on Instagram and Twitter