A Sit Down with Kaya Scodelario Who Plays Carina

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Carina is my new favorite character to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Her character takes on a new role that is unlike the other leading ladies that have been a part of the series. She’s an intelligent young woman, but she isn’t ready for the world of curses out on the sea. She is a woman of science that looks to the stars; we first meet her locked up for ‘being a witch.” In reality, she applied to go to University which is unheard of back in those days. On of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Carina hides in an astrologer’s office. She fixes the coordinates of his instruments so that he is getting proper readings. The mad can’t accept that she knows what she is talking about and immediately calls her a witch. Carina rolls her eyes, much like every woman in the audience who have even had to deal with a man that didn’t think a woman could do something. Kaya Scoldelario looks for roles like this that she can be proud to share with younger girls. Here is what she had to say. 

Scroll to the bottom to hear the whole interview. 

Photo by Louis of MomStart.com

Q : So Carina comes in as a brand new character in this movie for the franchise and she’s a really strong feminine character, which was actually really refreshing to see.  And she can hold her own.  What was it like bringing that into a completely male-dominated storyline?


Kaya Scoldelario: Yeah I mean it’s always important for me.  Every role I look for a woman that I would have liked to have seen at thirteen on the big screen.  And it’s a huge responsibility because people forget in blockbusters that we’re not simple, there are multi-layers and there’s a lot going on and she has a lot of that. I mean, she’s an orphan, she’s a survivor.  She’s also stubborn and argumentative and she’s also funny and flirty and there’s so much to her.  And I’m grateful that they wrote her this way.

Because usually with a film this size, unfortunately, there isn’t time to layer out a character too much.  Because there’s so much going on.  And I made a real effort with her to try and hit all those beats, it’s something that I hope my son grows up watching and respects in women and understands in women, that we aren’t just the Disney princess or the love interest or the damsel in distress and she’s certainly not any of those things.

Pictured: Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) Photo by Peter Mountain © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

***Mini Spoiler****

I’ve taken the plot out of this question so that it doesn’t shatter the best part of the whole film, but her answer is very touching and important to the story and filming. We were all taken aback and I wanted to share it with you. 

Q: There was a very emotional scene in the movie (plot removed). What did you tap into in order to bring those emotions forward?  

Kaya Scoldelario: Well I have a real personal connection with all that.  My father lived far away from me and he’d always say if you look up at Orion’s Belt, we’re both looking at the same star. And he passed away. So it was very easy for me to tap into that moment and also getting to work with an actor like Geoffrey.  He’s, well you look in his eyes, he’s wonderful.  He’s just a really giving actor.  And for me yeah a film like Pirates, you don’t expect to have that really strong emotional beat, especially as an actor, to get a chance to in the middle of all this craziness just kind of go quiet. And really focus on that relationship, it was an honor.  And I think we both- we really thought it was important and we wanted to treat it with as much respect as possible.

Brenton Thwaites mentioned in a recent interview that Kaya acts a lot like Johnny Depp in that she does a lot of improvised work and on the spot acting. 

Q : So you spoke about Johnny Depp improvising and having to work with it, how much input do you have in your character, in terms of improvisation?


Kaya Scoldelario: With this, you know, the words are kind of always great, what’s on the page is always the best thing possible and because we have these incredible writers that know what works for these movies, but I am very instinctual, and that’s how I like to work, I like to improvise and I like to make sure that the dialogue fits my voice and my character’s voice and they were really great about it, the directors are really open, every morning we’d sit down run through what we were going to do for the day, they’d ask if I had any issues with any of the dialogue, if there’s anything I felt would work better.  There was a day where Johnny actually came into my trailer beforehand and reworked an entire scene with me, which I was amazed at, that they still do let you have that creative freedom.  

Q: In the movie you know a lot about astronomy, did you do any studying or any background for that?

Photo by Louise of MomStart.com

Kaya Scodelario: Yeah I did some basic stuff, unfortunately I had about three weeks between being cast and then moving my life to Australia for six months and learning lines and with my dyslexia, it takes me a lot longer to learn a script.  So I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to kind of really research it.  I made sure that I was comfortable with the time piece that I have to use. I made sure I knew how that worked and all the ins and outs of it.  But since promoting it, it’s something that I feel like now I’d actually really like to get into a little bit more.

Q: What do you want the takeaway to be from the film?  

Kaya Scoldelario: I hope that they understand that this is an adventure for the whole family and it’s something that should be seen on the big screen and the best technology possible.  We spent six months making this and two years in post-production for a reason.  That’s how it should be seen and that’s how the whole family will enjoy it at its best.  

Here is the full interview…WARNING, MAJOR SPOILERS….You’ve been warned! 


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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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