Gore Verbinski

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Interviewed by Neil Smith

Even if he'd never directed a movie, Gore Verbinski would still merit a place in modern cultural history as the creator of the Budweiser frogs. Of course Gore (born Gregor) has done a lot more than that, ranging from the anarchic comedy of "MouseHunt" to the chilling horror of "The Ring". He's not infallible though - "The Mexican" flopped despite Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts' combined star power - but he's currently back on course with swashbuckling adventure "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl".

There have been some classic pirate films over the years, but recent attempts to revive the genre have been box office flops. Were you worried about suffering the same fate?

You never know why a film succeeds. There are great movies that are bombs and there are bad movies that succeed, so I think it's down to the performances and the story at the end of the day. I just feel lucky to have a great cast and great writers.

How did you find the experience of working on water?

Everything they say about water is true - nothing stays where you put it. This movie has 700 visual effect shots, but there are probably 150 you notice - 500 effects shots are just getting rid of city lights or hotels in the background. My approach was just to keep shooting. If there's an oil tanker driving through the background and it's going to cost an hour of shooting to wait for it to clear the frame, you roll and paint it out later on the computer. That was the only way to keep the thing on schedule. Visual effects are just another tool in the chest now.

Johnny Depp's performance as pirate Jack Sparrow is unusual, to say the least. How did you feel about his interpretation of the character?

When you hire Johnny Depp you know you're going to get something like that. We were fortunate because Keira [Knightley] and Orlando [Bloom] really held the love story together. If that hadn't happened I would have had to pull Johnny back more, but because they took care of that section of the movie he was free of the burden of being the leading man. Johnny really went his own way with the character: what you see physically and what he does with his mannerisms are 100% his creation.