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One does not simply act opposite Jack Sparrow.
Brenton Thwaites, 27, grew up in a world where Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow was an almost instantly iconic comic creation, a character pop culture embraced with open arms from the moment Depp debuted him in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film in 2003.
Now, Thwaites is the star of the fifth movie in the Pirates franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales (in theaters May 26), but stepping up as Henry Turner, the new face of the series, means sharing a certain amount of screen time with the reigning one.
“My first scene with [Johnny], if I’m remembering correctly, was the scene where Henry is trying to convince Jack Sparrow to team up with him and find this ancient treasure that could one, help Henry, and two, ultimately save Jack — so, a lot of things going on,” Thwaites says with a chuckle. Backstory- and exposition-heavy scenes can indeed be tough for actors to pull off, but they were hardly the present daunting challenge.
“I just remember being absolutely terrified, like I’d never acted in my life before doing this scene,” says Thwaites. “I just remember thinking, ‘How am I going to stand there and talk to Johnny Depp for three minutes, opposite a character that I’d grown up with in my teenage years? It’s not going to be possible.”
Ultimately, of course, it was — and the actor even calls the exchange “one of the finer scenes” he had on the film.
Beyond the Sparrow of it all, the mere idea of being in Pirates was enough to evoke a certain giddiness out of Thwaites, but that joy is only compounded by the early praise that’s lauded the film for its return to the original’s romantic and comic (but decidedly not rom-com) roots. “It means everything, mate, and that was the goal that [directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg] were going for,” says the Australian-born actor. “That mix of darkness, adventure, love, and swashbuckling were something that none of us had really seen on the screen before, and it was so fresh and exciting and it was the goal for number five to bring all those elements back to the screen, all those ingredients that made such a tasteful cocktail in the first one.” All those, and rum.