Escaping death & doggo divas: Kaya Scodelario & Brenton Thwaites’ misadventures on ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES’

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Kaya Scodelario, Johnny Depp and Brenton Thwaites in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

I remember looking into Johnny’s eyes, thinking, ‘We could die together right now. This is so cool.’ I did! ‘If this is how I go, this is pretty cool.’

Though filming a movie tends to be a hard, grueling task, there is fun to be had on set. Nobody proves this more than Kaya Scodelario (THE MAZE RUNNER series) and Brenton Thwaites (THE GIVER). Their experience on the set of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES wasn’t all work and no play. Their tales involved finding levity and humor within the task at hand.

In the film, Henry Turner (Thwaites) and astrologist/ horologist Carina Smyth (Scodelario) team up to find mythical hidden treasure – Poseidon’s trident, which is rumored to be able to break all curses at sea. While Henry is on a quest to free his dad (Orlando Bloom) from a curse, Carina is on a quest to find out more about her past.

Being the new kids on the block was only intimidating at first, Scodelario said at the film’s recent Los Angeles press day.

I was really worried it was going to be a really intense family vibe and we’d be the newbies stuck in a corner that no one would ever speak to.

However, it was PIRATE franchise stalwart Kevin McNally, who plays Captain Jack Sparrow’s right hand man Gibbs, who made the pair feel comfortable. Thwaites mentioned,

I never felt like I was in a pirate movie more than when I was acting next to Kevin McNally – with his mutton chops and his accent. Even if he’s informing someone of the weather. He mentions it like it’s life or death.

One of the challenges – especially during the finale – was staying wet. Special effects played a large part, but so did some good old-fashioned squirt bottles. Scodelario said,

I was pretty miserable for a while there, yeah. We were in a giant warehouse that was four blue screens and they built the floor to the ocean. It was this weird, rubbery black stuff that got everywhere. I honest to God found some of it the other day in a tee shirt. We were soaking wet. We’d have the poor makeup girls who would come up and, you’re friends by this point, and they’re like, ‘I’m so sorry.”[mimics spraying water in her face] Eleven hours in, you’re like, ‘Don’t do it!’

Thwaites quickly jumped in,

We’re not friends at this point.

Their further aquatic adventures required the pair to emerge from under water – a sequence that called for water tank work. Thwaites elucidated,

We had to burst through. It was a pretty crazy stunt. We had to hold our breath. And on action we’d come up [out of breath].

Scodelario added,

I remember looking into Johnny [Depp’s] eyes, thinking, ‘We could die together right now. This is so cool.’ I did! ‘If this is how I go, this is pretty cool.’

Not exactly unfamiliar to franchises with heavy stuntwork involved, Scodelario tries to do as much as she can herself before they call in her stunt doubles.

I really love it. It’s not something you get to do every day. You always have to respect there’s a point where these are the professionals. This is what they do. They want to keep everyone safe because accidents do happen. I do as much as I can myself. I love getting beaten up. I love getting home from a long day at work, seeing bruises and scratches. It’s fun.

Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Fun was actually a key ingredient in the duo’s experience filming DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES on massive sets in the company of their acting peers. This led to a few “pinch me” moments. In the case of Scodelario, this included one very good doggo and one very stern dog handler.

We shot a day in the courtyard of this town they built. We have this great scene where Johnny and I are fighting across from each other, both about to be executed and I remember looking down at 500 hundred extras – each dressed in head to toe period costume. Everyone had their makeup done. There were kids there. I went up to a dog on set. I was like, ‘There’s a dog on set! How cool!’ And I petted him. A guy turned around and said to me, ‘Excuse me please don’t disrupt the actor. He’s working.’ Genuinely. I was like, ‘Okay. Sh*t! This is the real deal.’ He was so angry.

Thwaites happened to be so caught up during one of their days shooting, that he didn’t know Scodelario was ACTING! He genuinely thought she was having a real meltdown.

I was chatting with someone off camera. Action was said and I missed it. Out of nowhere, Kaya screams, ‘QUIET!’ I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God! Kaya is losing it! Kaya’s got issues! She’s already calling it out!’ Until I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago…

Scodelario, genuinely shocked, responded

Really?!

Thwaites added,

This whole time I thought she’d lost it. She saw red and let everyone have it. It wasn’t until recently I realized it was part of the movie.

Scodelario isn’t one to close the book on her character. She’d be open to exploring in a Carina spin-off – if that was something people demanded.

At the end of the movie, she has this new identity. I think it would be great to see what she wants to do with that. I think that would be awesome.

However, the main thing Scodelario really would like to change is her vigin status as Disney theme park attendee.

I used to be so jealous of those YouTube videos of the kids being told they’re going to Disneyland and they cry. I’d be so angry. I want that! I want to go to Disneyland!

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES opens on May 26.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.