Tales of or­di­nary mad­ness

A swash­buck­ling Ge­of­frey Rush un­leashes his in­ner ego­ma­niac in the lat­est Pi­rates of the Caribbean out­ing, writes Vicky Roach

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies -

Q. On Stranger Tides is the fourth film in the Pi­rates fran­chise. Even though it just opened at No. 1 at the Aus­tralian box of­fice, were you ever in­clined to quit play­ing Bar­bossa while you were ahead? A. No. I look back at things like The Thin Man se­ries in the 1930s. They made six of them be­cause they just had more in­ter­est­ing sto­ries to tell. And I thought, ‘‘ Gee, if I was Wil­liam Pow­ell that would be a pretty damn good gig to be on’’. There’s a won­der­ful Wile E. Coy­ote and Road­run­ner qual­ity to the re­la­tion­ship [ be­tween Johnny Depp’s Jack Spar­row and Bar­bossa]. Q. Awards sea­son can get crazy. What was the strangest mo­ment for you dur­ing this year’s Os­car cam­paign for The King’s Speech? A. For me, it was hop­ing the weather would al­low me to get across the Pa­cific [ and back] in a 36-hour ex­clu­sive time zone. We shifted the Belvoir Street mati­nee of Di­ary of a Mad­man from 5pm to 11am and wrote in­di­vid­u­ally to all the sub­scribers to say: ‘‘ Look, this has hap­pened. Would you be happy to come at that [ ear­lier] time so I can get on the flight at 3pm?’’ Q. So did it work out? A. I flew to LA, did the [ Os­cars] cer­e­mony, got on a plane and was back on stage on Tues­day night. That, for me, was the slightly ex­hil­a­rat­ing part be­cause it just felt like I was in a Bond movie, if you know what I mean: ‘‘ We are go­ing to drop you in.’’ Q. Does ev­ery­body still work for scale [ min­i­mum wage] at Belvoir Street Theatre Com­pany? A. We’re not on par­ity any more, but it’s still not a for­tune. Q. This time, there’s a fe­male pi­rate [ Pene­lope Cruz] in the mix. A. She’s also Jack’s ex-lover. I think their scenes play a bit like a 1930s screw­ball com­edy. Q. Is Johnny Depp re­ally as cool as we all think he is? A. He is that cool. There’s one ev­ery gen­er­a­tion. He’s a great heart-throb movie star and he is a bril­liant, rare film ac­tor. I don’t think since Brando we’ve seen any­one with quite such an ec­cen­tric per­sona as a lead­ing man. Q. The pho­to­graphs of him on the red car­pet at Cannes – no­body else could get away with that out­fit. A. You should have seen the oth­ers! He turned up in Lon­don look­ing like a rock­a­billy star from 1948 and he looked sen­sa­tional. Q. What about your other cool Pi­rates co-star, Keith Richards? A. I think Keith likes me. He said [ per­fect im­i­ta­tion], ‘‘ Ge­of­frey, how are you mate?’’ I met him when he shot Pi­rates 3 but they kind of made that a closed set. I saw him at the third pre­miere and then he greeted me like a long lost friend at this last one. I think he’s got the best line in the film: ‘‘ Does this face look like it’s been to the fountain of youth?’’ Q. Do you in­tend to do a Pi­rates 5? A. Yep, they are writ­ing me in. It’s still in the early days of de­vel­op­ment though. Q. You have de­scribed the char­ac­ters you play in Di­ary of a Mad­man and Exit the King as be­ing part of your id­iot reper­toire. Does Bar­bossa have a sim­i­lar, ma­ni­a­cal edge? A. All pi­rates are mad. As an ac­tor you read a script and you in­ter­pret it to the best of your imag­i­na­tion. The process doesn’t vary from The King’s Speech to Pi­rates. The only thing that’s dif­fer­ent is the scale of the film and, on an­other level, the tone or pitch. And cer­tainly with some­thing like Pi­rates of the Caribbean, when you are play­ing an ego­ma­niac run­ning a fan­tas­ti­cal ship, you don’t want him to be too sub­ur­ban. Nat­u­ral­ism doesn’t seem to work on the high seas. Q. Is there more pres­sure on, say, a small theatre stage where ba­si­cally ev­ery­thing rests on your shoul­ders, or on a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar jug­ger­naut such as the Pi­rates fran­chise? A. I am sure in the Dis­ney of­fices there are heads rolling on a daily ba­sis. But be­cause Jerry Bruck­heimer’s such a sen­si­tive pro­ducer, he never lets that leak down to the set if it is hap­pen­ing.

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