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Pirates Of The Caribbean Interview: Brenton Thwaites On That Big Paul McCartney Cameo

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Australian actor Brenton Thwaites plays Henry Turner, a determined and reckless young sailor in the Royal Navy, son of Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner.

Determined to break the curse that traps his father at the bottom of the sea by seeking out the mythic Trident of Poseidon, he disobeys orders, escapes certain death (more than once), and goes up against the franchise’s formidable new villain (a ghostly Javier Bardem) and the undead hordes under his command.

We talked to Thwaites about what it’s like to board a franchise that set sail four movies ago and act opposite huge stars like Bardem and Johnny Depp.

Space: The first Pirates film came out back in 2003—Did you grow up with the movies and were you a fan?

Brenton Thwaites: I was. I did grow up with these movies. I saw the first film when I was 14 and I was a huge fan of that moonlight effect where you saw Geoffrey Rush coming out of the stairs on the Black Pearl and turning into a skeleton and seeing him drink the red wine and it going all down his gizzard. I remember being scared and excited and inspired because it was the first time we’d seen something like that on the screen before. What I like about Pirates is that they’re always getting the cutting edge of new CGI technology. It’s something that’s in this latest movie so it’s cool to be a part of it.

Can you talk about the experience of acting in a such a CG-heavy environment—how hard is that for an actor?

It’s challenging. I’ve done a few films where the CGI element is most of the movie but Pirates was great because we had the opportunity to really connect with our set pieces and the things that we had around us as available stimuli. A lot of the characters in this movie consist of putting a full face of makeup on so we really had as many things that were real as possible. The CGI elements were more to do with some of the the wide shots, the crazy stunt things, the background, the ocean, and the sky.

What’s it like joining the cast of such a big movie franchise five films in—do you feel like the new kid in class showing up halfway through the school year?

I kinda did feel like the new kid showing up in class—though if it was me I’d never have gone to class. But it was okay because the guys were really welcoming, and friendly and open to bringing in new talent. The two directors [Kon-Tiki’s Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg] were from a smaller, indie-er background and there was a lot of new people brought into this cast—Javier Bardem, Kaya Scodelario—and they were aspiring to make it a new, fresh, reinvigorated movie. Also, being down in Australia, I was in my comfort zone, so I was particularly lucky.

This is your second big Disney blockbuster following Maleficent. Those kinds of films usually mean acting opposite some pretty massive stars like Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Is that still intimidating for you or no big deal at this point?

Not really. I think the intimidation sets in when you meet the character and it’s this character that you’ve seen on the screen for so many years.

What about Paul McCartney? Were you on set when he filmed his Dead Men cameo?

I was. That was amazing to see. Seeing Paul McCartney in character was phenomenal. He looked amazing, for starters—it took me awhile to realize it was Paul McCartney. I just thought it was another pirate… another day, another pirate. I had to look closely to see that it was Paul McCartney—Sir Paul McCartney.

Out of all five films, do you have a favourite Pirates villain?

I like Bill Nighy—Davy Jones. He’s my favourite. I loved how menacing and vulnerable he was. You really felt for his character.

Should we expect to see your character return in that rumoured 6th film?

Oh, jeez. The answer to that question is above my pay grade! I know what I would love, though. I would love a 25-page fight scene with Davy Jones but I don’t know if it’s in the cards. You’ll have to ask Jerry Bruckheimer.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is in theatres now. See Brenton as Henry Turner in the trailer below: