Bringing a fifth movie to any franchise can be a bit of a risk. But Directors Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg not only did so fantastically but created a movie that will bring new fans into the fold for Pirates of the Caribbean. The series is loved by millions, and the with Dead Men Tell No Tales, we learn more about Jack Sparrow, face a new bad guy and meet new cast members and more.
The directors of mostly independent films, Ronning and Sandberg actively persued the fifth movie in the Pirates story line. As self proclaimed “super fans” the directing duo revealed to us why they wanted this title, what changed when they took the helm and even a bit more about their partnership and working past.
Can you talk a little bit about how you came to direct the fifth movie in the series?
Espen : Yeah, it didn’t fall into our laps. We chased it. We really wanted to make this movie. And I think the basic reason as you know Joachim and I started making movies together when we were 10. Movies that inspired us back then was you know the Spielberg and Lucas and Zemeckis films. And this franchise just reminds us of that.
And it has that unique blend of spectacle and humor and scary parts and also a lot of heart. So that meant a lot to us.
The special effects were amazing. One of the things that surprised viewers the most were the sharks. What made you decide to go with dead sharks and how did that come about?
Joachim: Well, it was in the script from –
Espen : It’s a huge inspiration.
Joachim: Brilliantly written by Jeff Nathanson. And you now and then it became our job to translate that and to add elements in the action sequence. The idea was on paper but you know all the scenes and that scene where he jumps over the boat and that’s all you know coming as we’re developing the idea. But the ghost sharks are part of the ghosts basically.
The design of the ghosts became a long process that we did together with Javier Bardem as well. And the production designers and the VFX supervisors and going in and trying to find like you know what can give it a ghostly appearance and then without losing the actors basically. Like Javier is so wonderful and you don’t want to mess it too much up. So, that’s where it started. And then the ghost sharks came from that trying to be a part of that family, so to speak.
Do you find it difficult working together as a team or do you have individual roles when you work together on a film?
Joachim : We only work every other day.
Espen : It’s very easy for everyone.
Joachim : You know we don’t really know any other way of doing this then being together. For us, it’s a very natural process. And I think it’s a collaborative one. We include the actors and the crew and everyone as part of the discussion basically. And we try to create safe work environment as you would say.
You know where every odd day is welcome and we can, everybody can be a part of the discussion. And that’s important to us. I think that’s like probably one of the strong advantages that we have as a directing team.
The movie took a while to come to the screen, was there anything left on the editing room floor?
Espen : That didn’t make it?
Joachim : There is always [something]. This has been a very long journey for us. I think almost four years. Almost four years we’ve been working on this movie which is long even for big movies. And of course like in that process 1 ½ year just working on the script there’s always going to be so many different versions and ideas and the process is very long and complex. I think that probably one of the things that we had the most versions of is probably Jack Sparrow’s back story and his origin story in the [movie], you know how he became Jack the sparrow and all of that.
That, I remember we had like you know 10, 15 versions of that. That was a long and grueling process because the mythology of Pirates of the Caribbean, the series and movies, it’s so at least I think it’s a complex mythology so and you don’t want to step on anybody’s [toes]. You know there’s a lot of fans out there that knows everything you know. And so it was important for us to be ahead of that and not mess with any you know previous back stories.
Espen : You know and we also wanted to blend that back story of Jack also with Salazar’s. So that their relationship and the revenge story became personal so to speak.
When you were filming the young Jack scenes, was the process similar to the Rogue One and filming Leah, the young Leah in terms of the CGI for his face?
Joachim : I would say yes and no because the Leah was not with Carrie Fisher but we shot with Johnny Depp. So I mean the youthification that we call it –. I’ve been misquoted in so many newspapers saying, beautification but it’s youthification. And, very important. And we shot it with Johnny and then spent the year in the computer basically.
There’s a company in South America that does it called Lola. Fitting, fitting name.
Espen : Now we can do 21 Jump Street again.
Joachim : Yeah, exactly. He was thrilled when he saw the result. He was a little like freaked out by it like looking at it but he loved it. And that was a fun moment.
What was it like working with Johnny Depp? And what was the chemistry like onset?
Espen : Oh, it’s amazing. He’s so funny. And I mean, what you see with Jack Sparrow is, it’s all Johnny. And he’s a genius. I mean for us he’s like up there with Chaplin and the other ones because his timing is just perfect and he has such a weird imagination. So he comes up with the craziest ideas. And for us, the highlight was always going into his trailer in the morning and going through the scenes and the lines and trying to come up with even more cool stuff to do to make it even more funny.
And of course when we started shooting he would do something completely different. And everyone was sort of thrown off but that also makes it come alive and funny, so.
You said that you pursued this title. Is there a specific reason you wanted to do the next installment in the series or was it just this type of origin story that you were attracted to?
Joachim : The origin story in the movie came from us actually. That was something we wanted to explore. That was something when we were you know going the rounds and trying to get the gate, that as fans of the franchise ourselves we were curious about Jack Sparrow. We were thinking well, that could be cool to –, and they got that. Disney liked it, and Johnny liked it too. He was a little bit more reserved because he’s very protective of this character of course. And the character is, he’s a tricky movie character, Jack Sparrow because he doesn’t really have you know what they call the character arc. He learns nothing you know during his journey. It’s not richer for the experience.
So he was very curious to where we would go with it. And then I think that we just you know it was you know creating basically now in the fifth installment, creating how he got his name and all of that. It’s a little bit risky. But he, but then when we presented it and then we started shooting he really embraced it and that was cool. So that was a big part of what we brought to get the job in the first place.
As Super Fans, was this the main reason you wanted to direct the film?
Joachim : We wanted to do the movie is like a little bit like Espen were saying, that when we grew up you know we were very influenced by Hollywood adventure family movies, you know movies that inspired us to become filmmakers in the first place. And Pirates reminds us of that. It’s very much you know that fun movies that gives you energy and you know we both have kids. And to be able to do, that was also a big part of why we wanted to do this. It’s something they can relate to and you know be a part of.
And you know now we’ve been doing the premieres and all over the world and traveling with those. And you know, I just –, that wouldn’t work you know if it was like you know like a horror movie or, you can’t –. It was a big part of it to make something that we saw ourselves in when we were kids and to make something for our kids.
Were there any other villains that you explored before settling with Captain Salazar?
Joachim: Well, I’m sure it was but when we came on board I think that it changed, he changed –. He wasn’t Spanish when we came but then when Javier agreed to come on then he became Spanish. So I think he’s like originally he was British or something like that.
So, what’s in store for the franchise? Will there be another one since we saw the clip as two?
Joachim: I hope so.
Espen : We wish we had that position. We are fans of the franchise so we certainly hope that it continues
Besides entertaining, what are you hoping people walk away with from the film?
Joachim: I think that you know for us again it’s something that was very important for us that we touch upon a little bit was the emotional core of the story and the kind of family theme that the film has. And that’s I guess you know a treasure is not always you know a chest of gold. You know, it could be other things.
Espen : Even for a pirate.
Joachim : Even for a pirate. And I think that was like something we really fought hard to do because I really inspired by the first movie I think in the series that had that a lot, had a big heart. And then of course you have the adventure and you have the scares and you have the comedy you know. I hope that the audience will moved by it as well.
How did you meet and start making movies together at 10?
Espen : Through dance. We were –- [INTERVIEWEE INTERRUPTION]. Break dancers. Oh, God. Again, we were 10. And we immediately started making movies instead. And luckily we didn’t pursue the dancing career. We went for the movie making. But yeah.
Joachim : I think in that we were in elementary school, my dad bought a video camera so that’s why we kind of drifted into that and became very interested in film.
Do you have any of those early films?
Joachim : Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s hilarious.
Pirates is such an iconic part of Disney and history. What’s it like being part of that? Is this what you’ve wanted to have that kind of feather in your cap?
Espen : For sure.
Joachim : It’s a dream come true. I think you know we grew up with this in movies and –.
Espen : And it’s so much bigger than us. It’s amazing to go to China and there’s thousands of screaming fans. You know, it’s such a global phenomenon and it’s because they love the universe. They love the characters. And for us to be a part of that and keep that story going is 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