What would a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN film be without Captain Jack Sparrow’s “frenemy” for lack of a better term… Captain Hector Barbossa!?! When we first met Geoffrey Rush‘s character, he was the villainous captain of the Black Pearl, only after he led a mutiny against Jack, the ship’s previous captain. Over the next few movies, we see Barbossa transform from his treacherous self to one willing to help save Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker, and then eventually becoming a privateer with the British Royal Navy. The last time we saw Barbossa, he teamed up with Jack to take on the infamous Blackbeard. So while the Barbossa we meet in DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES still has elements from his previous self, without any spoilers, I’ll let you know that there is something different about the Barbossa we encounter in the fifth film, when he faces off with Captain Salazar.
When I first heard that we would interview Geoffrey, my jaw kind of dropped. It’s not every day that I get to interview someone who has snagged a “Triple Crown of Acting.” Geoffrey has won an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Tony Award, as well as Golden Globes, Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, and countless others. But then I thought to myself, how fun is going to be interviewing him for a film like PIRATES? Amazingly fun.
Geoffrey is quite passionate about his role as Barbossa. He’s a character that means a lot to him. You can tell that Geoffrey is genuine in how much he cares for this character by the way he talks and discusses Barbossa’s story arch. The first question we asked was how did it feel to take on a different Barbossa? Geoffrey replied that Barbossa was something that happened over the first four films…
On Barbossa in CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL:
Geoffrey: I think in the first one… before I actually entered into the story, he was described rather fearfully by the two pirates that are now my assistants. “He’s spat out from the mouth of hell.” Which to me that was the key line. He was pretty much the dark villain of the piece. He had to break the curse. I think it was a great twist of the story that we were actually having to put all of the treasure back to reverse the curse, which I think I then enjoyed having all my senses back for about 30 seconds. Then I got shot.
There is a sort or poignant but rather ridiculous comic madman. I thought that was fun. Some months later, Gore Verbinski, who was director in the first three, phoned me up and said “look it’s been such a success.” And it was fun.
It was just fantastic to think someone like Johnny (Depp) was the king of the independent films here, great characters like Edward Scissor Hands and What’s Eating Gilbert Great and all of the things that he did. For him to create such a unique, unpredictable pirate — there’s nothing like it in literature or cinema before.
And he got nominated for a Best Actor, which is just fantastic. These actual adventure films just don’t really get a look in on that territory. But I remember him telling me when we shot the first film, “We can’t be stereotypes. We’ve gotta create really imaginative kind of people that an audience will get very engaged with.”
And he said “I’ve been toying with an idea. I like the British rock stars of the ‘60s.” The pirates always had sort of clear-cut identities. The real Blackbeard used to have fuse wire burning in his beard that when people saw him they thought he was the devil. So, that would go from ship to ship from port to port. A I said, “with Barbossa I want to make him very arrogant and very pompous and very superior and maybe a bit slightly self-diluted about how bright he actually is.” Penny Rose, the Costume Designer, gave me this great kind of flamboyant outfit. I (as Barbossa) was a bit more like a glam rock star!
On Barbossa’s cameo in DEAD MENS CHEST and role in AT WORLD’S END:
Geoffrey: Gore phoned me up and said “Look we’re going to Asia and everything.” And I said “well, that’s great. You’ll all have a marvelous time. It was really fun being in the first film.” He said, “Oh, no, no, no. We’ll go to Asia. We’re going to have a new sort of Asian villain” that Chow Yun-fat played. But he said “You’re going to come back as a very secret surprise right in the end of the second film.” I said “How? I’m dead.” He said, “Well, no, it’s going to be voodoo.”
I went what do you mean? He said “Tia Dalma needs you to get all the global pirates together to break the curse of the cheese hunter. It’ll become a big part of the story.” So, I sort of became like a politician. I was the guy getting the global pirate G20 meeting. And that was fun to play, because he’s a control freak and he loves thinking he’s the most powerful person on the planet.
On Barbossa in ON STRANGER TIDES:
And then I worked for the king. I liked that in Pirates 4. I really insisted that I have a very elaborate wig and lovely makeup and a beauty spot. The teeth were always the same. And then, unfortunately, when he put on the courtly makeup with his crusty skin, he didn’t look any prettier. So that sort of shift has always been there.
On Barbossa in DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES:
Geoffrey: And I did love it when I read the fifth script that he had become so wealthy, because he’s got black beards, magic sword that is the most powerful thing on the planet. And I like that it brought out the vulgarity. Barbossa isn’t somebody with any sense of personal style whatsoever.
Penny Rose offered me a costume, and I said this is great. He wouldn’t care if he mixed checks with stripes. What else does he spent his money on? This is a great way to show how ridiculously wealthy he is. It’s a bit like Saddam Hussein having gold everywhere on the bathroom taps and probably shaped like fish or something.
Then the extra bit where they brought in a sort of deep secret from even before the first film started… that there was something that Jack and Barbossa knew about.
**(Sorry folks. No spoilers here! Want know Barbossa’s secret? Go see the film!)**
You and Johnny have a great back and forth. Was that natural, or did you have to work on that?
Geoffrey: The scripts are always pretty good. We’ve sort of decided now that the Black Pearl is our mutual girlfriend and we both want her. Then chances are that Jack Sparrow will end up with the ship, which he does… but that sense of harmony’s never always gonna stay there…
For the peg leg, how did that work?
Geoffrey: I think back in the days when Robert Newton played Long John Silver. I think he did with the leg strapped up. So, I went down that path and talked to a prosthetician who specializes with amputees. If you see people that have a leg from the knee down, it’s molded beautifully in titanium or whatever. I saw something the other day, where they’ve now got a machine where the feet kind of ripple. It’s amazing engineering. But he said it takes these people maybe 12 to 18 months to really get all their musculature and their core muscles to kind of realign…
But when I had it strapped up, I couldn’t stand up. I mean it was just impossible. And I said you know what? I’ll act the leg. Because I wore a blue screen stocking, I made sure that we made the heel of it like the point…
Tell us about the monkey!
Geoffrey: Yes, the monkey’s great. The monkey’s trained to really have no relationship with me. If he did, he would be looking for things to eat in my wig!
On Pablo and Chiquita (two of the monkeys)
They were a good team. But what was lovely is that they would always be eating. They’re getting peanut rewards or little bits of dried banana and stuff like that. And I used to love it. It was very comforting, because I’d feel them on my shoulder going “Eeee eee eee eee eee eee ehuh-eee eee.” Making all those little noises. You just get very warm soft, aromatic, peanut breath! Every time I had the monkey in the scene there was still kind of a real connection. Then he gave me as a wrap gift. He gave me a painting that he did. It’s really amazing. And it’s framed. It’s got these mad, green spreads, like abstract – I call it abstract expressionism. Then there’s some yellow over on this side. It’s really quite artistic. I don’t know what that is. That could’ve been the contents of the diaper that he wears!
After the interview wrapped, and we took a group photo with him, he jokingly commented that he had an idea for the plot line IF there is ever a sixth PIRATES film. He thinks that Barbossa should settle down with a mommy blogger!! Now imagine that! We all burst out laughing.
Check out Geoffrey in action as Barbossa in the DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES trailer.
In addition, to celebrate the film’s upcoming release, check out this PIRATES Activity Pack! Activities include a maze, creating your own spy glass, and much much more.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES is in theaters May 26, 2017 in 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!
Want to see more of my adventures in LA? We can connect on Twitter (@AshBG) and on Instagram (@ashb4211). I’ve posted some photos from my trip! Make sure you follow the hashtags #PiratesLifeEvent and #BambiBluray.
While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to Los Angeles, all opinions are 100% my own.
Interview Photo Credits: www.MomStart.com