WARNING: Spoilers for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales follow
Geoffrey Rush has had a long and varied career. He has portrayed famous figures like the Marquis de Sade, Albert Einstein, and Lionel Logue. He has also played some memorable fictional characters like Inspector Javert, the Egyptian God Ra, and – most famously – Captain Hector Barbossa. He is now reprising his role of Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Geoffrey on press day, where we discussed what about the storyline convinced him to return, the timeless nature of pirate movies, and how he thinks this installment stands out from the rest of the Pirates franchise.
Geoffrey Rush: Hey. How are you doing?
I am great. Congratulations on the film. It was a lot of fun. You’ve played Captain Barbossa five times now. What was it about this storyline that piqued your interest in returning?
Geoffrey Rush: The fact that he was seemingly now having the misfortune of having lost a leg. That was a setback. The fact that he had become obscenely wealthy because I knew from the end of the fourth film they’ve given me this Blackbeard’s sword, which is kind of like you’ve got that. You control everything.
Yeah. You got all of the sea.
Geoffrey Rush: So, it was great to go into this film obscenely wealthy and in charge of everything but, of course, dramatically that meant he’s sort of taken his eye off the ball and he doesn’t quite know that Salazar is coming and that to clash those two villains together, one of them half-man and half-prawn, in Javier’s hands it is a mighty piece of dangerous, creepy acting.
What is it that is so timeless about these Pirates movies?
Geoffrey Rush: Well, I think having seen this one only twice, it really impressed me particularly looking at Johnny, with Jack Sparrow having hit such a low ebb in his career, you know, no crew, no ship, no good fortune; of how flexible and how complex he had made Jack Sparrow as a figure. He’s more of an archetype. There’s no stereotype. He doesn’t do any conventional pirating. There’s no reference to Long John Silver or Captain Hook. I mean, he’s a very modern, kind of existential hero/idiot. [laughs] So everyone relates to him, you know.
What was it like to bring Barbossa’s character to an end? I love this character, by the way.
Geoffrey Rush: I don’t really. That’s a spoiler. [laughs]
Let me ask you this. How does this movie stand out from the rest of the entries in the Pirates series?
Geoffrey Rush: I think its great achievement is its, it sort of captured, which is a hard thing to do because the lightning that was caught in the bottle with The Curse of the Black Pearl, you know, at the time that it came out in 2003 we were way down on the ‘Hey, this is what is going to open this summer’. We opened very late and this was pre-Twitter or pre-social media. Good old word-of-mouth. Something, something ran through those zeitgeists that people went and saw this film and found it invigorating and fresh and high adventure. I think some of that energy has really come back in this film but, in the last fifteen years like the technological achievements, I always thought that Bill Nighy as Davy Jones was groundbreaking in terms of giving complexity to a character with CGI embellishment and I think, like most of the big set pieces, the kind of hallucinogenic, trippy world that this story gets told in has set the bar really high.
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.