We got the extremely amazing honor of interview Geoffrey Rush about his role as Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which comes out in theaters May 26th! He is such a fine actor and has done so much so I was truly amazed when he walked in. Did he know he was Nigel in Finding Nemo? I mean that isnt even brushing the surface of what he has done, its just the first thing that popped in my head besides Shakespeare in Love. And now we have seen him be Barbossa in the Pirates franchise.
His character has truly changed so much that it is hard to decide what parts are really him. And yet the base traits are the same. He was telling us that its “something that happened over the first four films, you know. 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.’ To me that was the key line. I thought, whenever I enter into this story, if you don’t see that, then he’s a liar. So, he was pretty much the dark villain of the piece. And, you know, 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 then enjoyed having all my senses back for about 30 seconds. Then I got shot.” He just told us to us straight out like that and had a laugh. It was great.
Then we got him talking about Johnny Depp. He said that Johnny was the king of the independent films…great characters like Edward Scissor Hands and What’s Eating Gilbert Great and all of the things that he did. He said Johnny was great. “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, you know. ‘Cause that — 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, he said, ‘you know, we can’t be stereotypes. We’ve gotta create really imaginative kind of people that an audience will get very engaged with’.
I have to say they both did. They created such different characters but they both excelled at making them unique. Geoffrey Rush said, “I’ve been toying with the idea of, like the British rock stars of the ‘60s ’cause pirates always had sort of clear-cut identities. You know, the real Black Beard 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. With Barbossa I wanted to make him very arrogant and very pompous and very superior and maybe a bit slightly self-diluted about how bright he actually is” I think when a person sees Barbossa that you remember him and he took that to the next level in this film. Barbossa had a peg leg of gold and jewels. He was tacky, he was covered in opulence and yet he is still the same old Captain Barbossa. Conniving and trying to come out on top.
He refuses to bow down to Salazar and the only game is willing to play is his own. And that is what I like about Barbossa. He wins because he thinks about things simply and he doesn’t do weird elaborate plans. He knows how to play things by ear and how to talk his way out of situations. He is kind of like Jack Sparrow in that way in my eyes.
He was pretty hilarious when he told us of his plans for his big wig. He kept going on about how tacky Barbossa can be and how he has no personal style. He said they phoned him before the 4th film and said they were going to Asia. So he 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’re go to Asia. We’re going to have a new sort of Asian villain that Chow Yun-fat played. Then he said, you’re going to come back as a very secret surprise right at the end of the second film. I said, oh, right. How? I’m dead. He said, well, it’s going to be voodoo. I asked what he meant. Movie magic? No. He said Tia Dalma needs you to get all the global pirates together to break the curse that she’s under. 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 together. That was fun to play, because he’s a control freak and he loves thinking he’s the most powerful person on the planet. Then I worked for the king. I liked that in Pirates 4. I said, I really insist that I have a very elaborate wig and lovely makeup and a beauty spot. The teeth were always the same. 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. And I did it love it when I read the fifth script that he had become so wealthy. And I like that it brought out the vulgarity. Barbossa isn’t somebody with any sense of personal style whatsoever, you know.”