The scare at Disney when they first saw Jack Sparrow

With The Curse of the Black Pearl, one of the most important franchises for Disney in recent years was born. At the height of productions such as those of Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it was one of those that managed to install itself within the machinery of the mouse company and continue with more stories. There were five films in total, with a sixth that is currently in development but will not feature one of its main figures, the Jack Sparrow of Johnny Depp.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was the first of the films and was released in 2003. The project took too long to complete and had some problems that ended with its main production designer (the one responsible for transferring the vision of the director and the one from the script to the real world) stepping aside. The funny thing was that he ended up credited as the main designer despite having been in charge for a few weeks. “It was a challenge and one of my biggest disappointments was that I was not given a shared credit as a designer,” he noted in an interview with REALPOLITIK.

Who took his place was Derek Hill, who had a handful of minor experiences on his résumé and had been hired as an art director (second in line for importance within the art department). “The production designer resigned after two months, I replaced him, but he was credited. He worked two and a half months and I eleven,” he said. Hill.

For Hill the experience was very exhausting and required him to give it his all. In fact, he compared it to the jobs he had with Oliver stone who, he says, “tests you all the time.” In the case of The Curse of the Black Pearl there were two art teams, one in the Caribbean and the other in the sets built in Los Angeles. TO Derek hired him Clayton Townsend, who was going to be the film’s online producer, but who didn’t even end up credited. Since joining, everything seemed to be trouble.

Derek He was called and summoned to a meeting that he came out of and just minutes later he was hired to get started as soon as possible. “The production designer (Brian morris) had to go back to London and get a work visa. The first 30 days went away and we had 18 weeks from the day we started, which was when filming began, “he said. Hill. Every day he had to meet with Gore Verbinski, the director of the film, to face a project that they did not seem to know very well how to face.

One of the problems, for example, was figuring out how to develop the pirate ship, the cave and the pirate skeletons, which had never been made. “We built it, we rehearsed it and we shot it with real pirates, then they put on the green suits and did it again and tried to do the same, to make them like pirate skeletons. It had never been done,” Hill said of the animation process through which the real actors were replaced by the figures of bones.

But when it comes to challenges, one of the most important was the sets that were distributed in a wide variety of geographical locations in Los Angeles such as Ranchos Palos Verdes, Manhattan Beach or Glendale. “It took me between 6 and 7 hours to make a trip to check how the sets were going each day. It was crazy,” he said. Derek, who was in charge of about 400 people building the sets. For this, the figure of the director was very important, to whom he highlighted: “The guy was never wrong.”

On the other hand, he stressed: “Nobody knew how it was going to turn out. At Disney they went crazy when they saw Johnny depp interpreting as Robert Plant. They wondered like, ‘What is it? A gay pirate? ‘”But the performance of Depp He convinced them and became an icon of the franchise. In the filming, Depp he never stopped being this iconic pirate. “It never changed. It became Jack sparrow and I do not know if it could stop being it “, it emphasized Hill. (

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