EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Directors Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg ~ the Creative Minds behind PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

by Heather

I attended the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES #PiratesLifeEvent courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.  All opinions are strictly my own.

The interviews for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES were absolutely fantastic. I learned a lot more about the cast, the franchise, what it was like to work in this family like atmosphere, and how much fun they had while creating such a great film.

One of the interviews that I was really excited about, but truthfully didn’t realize until right after we watched the movie at the Red Carpet Premiere, was with the directors, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. As soon as the last credit rolled, I had to know more about the storyline, why these two men were so interested in the project, and what it was like to become a part of Pirate history. My applause for these two gentlemen as they entered the room couldn’t have been more genuine. They directed a great movie and I wanted to offer up thanks through my applause … the gesture was not lost on them.

They sat down, offered a quick hello, and it was time to set sail.

Photo Courtesy: MomStart.com

Can you talk a little bit about how this film fell into your lap for number five?

Espen Sandberg:  It didn’t fall into our laps. [LAUGHTER] We chased it. We really wanted to make this movie. I think the basic reason was, Joachim and I started making movies together when we were ten years old. Movies that inspired us back then, the Spielberg and Lucas and Zemeckis films. This franchise just reminds us of that. It has that unique blend of spectacle and humor and scary parts and also a lot of heart. So that meant a lot to us.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

The special effects were amazing. One of the things that surprised me the most I think or I was taken aback by the most were the sharks. What made you decide to go with dead sharks and how did that come about?

Joachim Rønning:  It was in the script that was brilliantly written by Jeff Nathanson. It became our job to translate that and to add elements in the action sequence. The idea was on paper but, all the scenes where he jumps over the boat and all, that all comes together as we develop the idea. The ghost sharks are part of the look of the ghosts basically.

That was important to work. The design of the ghosts became a long process that we did together with Javier Bardem as well. The production designers and the VFX supervisors would go in and try to give a ghostly appearance without losing the actors basically. Javier is so wonderful and you don’t want to mess it too much up. So, that’s where it started. The ghost sharks came from that trying to be a part of that family, so to speak.

Photo Courtesy: MomStart.com

Because you work with a team and you work as a team so often, do you have individual roles interacting or is everything a team effort?

Joachim Rønning:  We don’t really know any other way of doing this then being together. For us, it’s a very natural process. And I think it’s a collaborative one. We include the actors and the crew and everyone as part of the discussion basically. We try to create a safe work environment where every idea is welcome and everybody can be a part of the discussion. That’s important to us. I think that’s like probably one of the strong advantages that we have as a directing team.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

What was it like working with Johnny Depp? What was the chemistry like onset?

Espen Sandberg:  Oh, it’s amazing. He’s so funny. What you see with Jack Sparrow, it’s all Johnny. And he’s a genius. I mean for us he’s like up there with Chaplin and the other ones because his timing is just perfect and he has such a weird imagination. So he comes up with the craziest ideas. For us, the highlight was always going into his trailer in the morning and going through the scenes and the lines and trying to come up with even more cool stuff to do to make it even more funny. Then of course, when we started shooting he would do something completely different. And everyone was sort of thrown off but that also makes it come alive and funny, so.

Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney

You said that you pursued this title. Is there a specific reason you wanted to do the next installment in the series or was it just this type of origin story that you were attracted to?

Joachim Rønning:  The whole movie or the origins story in the movie?


Joachim Rønning:  The origin story in the movie came from us actually. That was something we wanted to explore. That was something that when we were going the rounds and trying to get the gig, that as fans of the franchise ourselves we were curious about Jack Sparrow. We were thinking well, that could be cool and they got that. Disney liked it. Johnny liked it too. He was a little bit more reserved because he’s very protective of this character of course. And the character, he’s a tricky movie character, Jack Sparrow because he doesn’t really have you know what they call the character arc. He learns nothing during his journey. He’s not richer for the experience.

He was very curious to where we would go with it. We just created the fifth installment, creating how he got his name and all of that. It’s a little bit risky, a little bit, but then when we presented it and then we started shooting he really embraced it and that was cool. So that was a big part of what we brought to get the job in the first place.

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Joachim Rønning:  Why we wanted to do the movie, like Espen was saying, when we grew up we were very influenced by Hollywood adventure family movies. Movies that inspired us to become filmmakers in the first place and Pirates reminds us of that. It’s very that fun movie that gives you energy and you know we both have kids. To be able to do, that was also a big part of why we wanted to do this. It’s something they can relate to and be a part of.

Now we’ve been doing the premieres and all going over the world and traveling with them. That wouldn’t work if it was like a horror movie or something like that. A big part of it was to make something that we saw ourselves in when we were kids and to make something for our kids.

Photo Courtesy: MomStart.com

What’s in store for the franchise? Will there be another movie based on clip that we saw at the end of the film?

Espen Sandberg: I hope so.

Joachim Rønning:  We wish we had the position. We are fans of the franchise so we certainly hope that it continues.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

You mentioned your family. Besides entertaining, what are you hoping people walk away with from the film?

Joachim Rønning:  It’s something that was very important for us that we touch upon a little bit was the emotional core of the story and the kind of family theme that the film has. And that a treasure is not always you know a chest of gold. It could be other things.

Espen Sandberg:  Even for a pirate.

Joachim Rønning:  Even for a pirate. I think that was something we really fought hard to do because I was really inspired by the first movie. The series has a big heart. Then of course, you have the adventure and the scares and the comedy. But yeah, I hope that the audience will be moved by it as well.

Photo Courtesy: MomStart.com

You mentioned that you started working together basically when you were 10 years old. Are your children in the same boat? Do your kids try to make movies together?

Joachim Rønning:   Yeah, I would say so.

Espen Sandberg:   They’re best friends actually; super close. They’re doing a lot of creative stuff so we’ll see.

Joachim Rønning:   We have five kids between us. I have two, Espen has three.

Espen Sandberg:  Every other year.

Joachim Rønning:  They’re nine, 10, 11, 12, and 13. It’s a good bunch to travel with.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Pirates is such an iconic part of Disney and history. What’s it like being part of that? Is this what you’ve wanted to have that kind of feather in your cap?

Joachim Rønning:  For sure. It’s a dream come true. We grew up with these movies.

Espen Sandberg:  It’s so much bigger than us. It’s amazing to go to China and there’s thousands of screaming fans. It’s such a global phenomenon and it’s because they love the universe. They love the characters. For us to be a part of that and keep that story going is really cool.

It was amazing sitting down with Joachim and Espen. I’ve met directors that have talked about their love of a movie or how much they wanted to be a part of a project but this was the first time they actually painted the picture for me. They are both super fans of the franchise and I love that. It tells me that took the utmost care with what came before them, they did their homework, and they love the characters as much as I do. They made it a fantastic day!




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Margot C July 23, 2017 - 8:47 pm
I can't believe that you spoke to them! They are both so brilliant. What a thing for your blog!
Armando Rincon October 16, 2017 - 9:15 pm
amazing interview, they always deliver such great films

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