Last week, I sat down with Brenton Thwaites, who plays Henry Turner in the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (along with 24 of my fellow bloggers). This interview was part of the Pirates red carpet premiere and press event. Travel and accommodations were covered by Disney but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
**Note: Interview photos are courtesy of Louise Bishop of MomStart.com. Movie stills are courtesy of Disney.**
Brenton Thwaites is a newcomer to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but he fit in perfectly! I loved his role as Henry Turner, young adult son of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner. He was a delight to interview – all smiles and very gracious! Here are a few things that we chatted with him about.
Take a look at this featurette. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is in theaters NOW! Be sure to check out the rest of my Pirates posts…movie review, red carpet experience, interviews, printables and more!
Question: What was it like stepping into such a role with Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner as your parents?
Brenton Thwaites appreciated the backstory that he came into his role as Henry Turner with. He said, “I feel as though as it was easier than not having them because they provided such a backstory for my character. We start the movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales, with the boy version in my character, basically saying, ‘I believe there’s a treasure that can break your curse, and I can spend more time with you.’ And he (Will Turner) says, ‘Okay, well if there is, go find Jack Sparrow. He can help you find it.’ And so I feel like the goal and obligation for my character has already been set, and that gives Henry a lot more drive and focus for the whole movie.”
Question: What was it like working opposite Johnny Depp and the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow?
Brenton didn’t hesitate to say, “It was terrifying. It’s still terrifying. It’s always terrifying because you never know what he’s gonna say or do, and it always results in humiliation for me. So you are always entering a scene, thinking ‘this guy now is five movies worth of Jack Sparrow.’ And he’s on the ball and kind of irreverent and impulsive. You just anticipate what he’s gonna do and say, so that’s great because, as an actor, it kind of improves your acting in the sense that you’re always open and free and relaxed to go with the flow, but also pretty terrifying.”
Question: What was it like working on Disney films, especially now that you’re a father?
Brenton Thwaites had a little girl after filming Pirates of the Caribbean and said that being a dad certainly changed his perspective! He said, “It’s great being a part of Disney because, as a studio, it really plays for the younger audiences. I did a movie in 2012, released in 2014, called Maleficent which is something I can’t wait for my daughter to see. Pirates may take a while just because it’s quite scary, you know? One year at a time. I don’t even know about letting kids see movies yet, you know?”
Question: What was it like coming in to the Pirates franchise as a newcomer?
Because so many members of the Pirates of the Caribbean cast have done this several times before, we wondered if the existing cast would value a newcomer’s input. Brenton said, “I think they did value my input as an actor, as an newcomer. There were so many different characters coming into this one to make it a fresh new thing, and I think all the old-school dudes really wanted to make it fresh and exciting and, it’s something they hadn’t done before. So Javier coming on board, myself, Kaya, and the two new directors who had primarily done independent films were supported and encouraged on this one.”
Question: What was it like when you first walked onto the set?
Brenton laughed, “I was thinking, wow, it’s really rained, because my first day on the set, it had been pouring for months or weeks, and the town of Saint Martin, which was about twenty minutes west of the studio, was covered in mud. They kinda used it in the movie which is really cool and dramatic, and adds to the dirtiness of the pirate’s world, but I remember thinking, ‘I’m gonna have to get some new shoes.’
I had a scene where my character, Henry, is hiding behind a pillar, and he’s spying on Jack Sparrow, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a perfect way to start the movie, and to see Jack Sparrow drinking rum in the middle of the street, and the whole parade of red soldiers trying to catch him.'”
Question: The visual effects are amazing. What was it like to see the finished film?
Brenton said, “Well, the visual effects side of things was, for this one, mostly kind of behind the actor’s consciousness. In Maleficent, it was a lot of work that we would have to do with our imaginations to kind of be specifically creating creatures that weren’t there. On Gods of Egypt, we did the same thing. But on Pirates, we were lucky because all of Javier’s makeup; all the ghosts were there. They looked fantastic.
The sets were real. You know, they, they had beautiful set pieces that allowed us to play and feel like we were actually in the space. The CGI, I guess I was surprised to see Javier’s hair. But yeah, it was mainly in the background, the CGI stuff which gave it this great depth of field when you watch it. But for us, we were lucky that we had so much given to us on the day.”
Question: What was a typical day on set like?
Brenton explained, “Typically a day on a set for me is– I get picked up eight o’clock, so I get out of the house at seven; I run down for a quick surf; I get out of the surf at eight; rush home; I’m half an hour late. So my driver speeds down the highway and risks our lives trying to get to work on time. And then I get made up and sit in the trailer for five hours, and then we start working.”
He told us that there was a lot of sitting around and waiting on set because the directors liked to be prepared for anything that they might want to add in. Brenton said, “Logistics, sets change, and everyday there was something crazy happening. For this one they liked to give the directors all the tools to play around with, and so we would all come to work; Javier would get made up; Geoffrey would get in makeup, and we would all be ready in case they wanted to do some improvised shot or something; they could kinda use any actor at any time. So it was cool way of shooting.”
Question: You had a lot of scenes with Johnny Depp. Did he do things to make you laugh?
Brenton laughed and said, “Everything (he did made us laugh). Listen, if you guys look closely, me and Kaya, behind the scenes are trying not to laugh.” He agreed that we should probably expect a lot of bloopers.
Question: Did you have a favorite filming location?
Brenton said, “We shot at about five or six different locations; mainly the studios. I was talking about Saint Martins Square twenty minutes west of the studios where all the mud was. We shot there for a good month and a half, and we shot in Northern New South Wales; they had a beautiful beach- both Hastings Point for our entrance into, our entrance into Saint Martins, I think, the coastal element.
“My favorite location was up on Hamilton Island, shooting out on the Great Barrier Reef. We had some days we shot at a beach called White Haven Beach which is beautiful squeaky beach. When you walk on the sand, it squeaks, which is not so good for the sound, but it’s great for effect, and it looks beautiful, and I think we had the most fun right there.
Question: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Brenton said, “I just hope they’re entertained. This is the kind of movie that never loses its drive and has so many action pieces, set pieces; comedic elements; romance; supernatural; there’s something for everyone in this movie. So I hope everyone takes something from it and connects with the characters.” Brenton personally wished that he could have taken a rowboat from the set to give to his mom to make a vegetable garden in.
See Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, in theaters everywhere!
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