Exclusive Interview With Geoffrey Rush Who Plays Barbossa

Barbossa is the pirate we always loved to hate, until now. That all changes in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. But this is a spoiler free interview so I have edited out some key things that would ruin the epic story that comes out May 26th.

Come back after the movie comes out (and you’ve seen it) and I’ll include the whole interview 😉  

This was my favorite interview while I was in Los Angeles. We interviewed quite a few stars from the film, but Geoffrey Rush is a true storyteller and he had great stories to tell us. We all agreed that we could have been there all day listening to him talk. He has been in most of the franchise as well so he has been immersed in Barbossa’s character for a long time. 

Q- You played a different part of you in this film. So, how did it feel to take on a different Barbossa?

(Speaking about The Curse of the Black Pearl)

Photo by Louise of MomStart.com

Geoffrey Rush: Well, it’s sort of something that happened over the first four films, you know. I think in the first one he — before I actually entered into the story, he was described rather fearfully by the two pirates that are now my assistants. He’s spat out from the mouth of hell. He was pretty much the dark villain of the piece. And he had to break the curse. I think it was a great twist of the story that we were actually having to put all of the treasure back to reverse the curse, which I think I then enjoyed having all my senses back for about 30 seconds. Then I got shot.

(Speaking about Dead Man’s Chest) Some months later, Gore Verbinski, who was the director in the first three, phoned me up and said look we’re…gonna go to Asia and everything. And I said, well, that’s great. You’ll all have a marvelous time. It was really fun being in the first film. He said, oh, no, no, no. We’ll go to Asia. We’re gonna have a new sort of Asian villain that Chow Yun Fat played. But he said you’re gonna come back as a very secret surprise right in the end of the second film. I said, oh, right. How — I’m dead! He said, well, no, it’s gonna be voodoo. I went what do you mean? Movie magic? No. He said Tia Dalma needs you to get all of the global pirates together to break the curse of the she’s under. It’ll become a big part of the story.

(Speaking about At World’s End) So, I sort of became like a politician. I was the guy getting the global pirate G20 meeting. And that was fun to play, because he loves — he’s a control freak and he loves thinking he’s the most powerful person on the planet.

(Speaking about Stranger Tides) And then I worked for the king. I liked that in Pirates 4. And I said, you know, I really insist that I have a very elaborate wig and lovely makeup and a beauty spot. The teeth were always the same. And then, unfortunately, when he put on the courtly makeup with his crusty skin, he didn’t look any prettier.

(Speaking about Dead Men Tell No Tales) I did love it when I read the fifth script that he had become so wealthy, because he’s got black beards, magic scimitar that is the most powerful thing on the planet. And I like that it brought out the vulgarity. Barbossa isn’t somebody with any sense of personal style whatsoever, you know. And Penny Rose offered me a costume, and I said this is great. He wouldn’t care if he mixed checks with strikes. And what else does he spent his money on, you know. I love the fact that the wooden leg — I said this is a great way to show how ridiculously wealthy he is. It’s a bit like Saddam Hussein having gold everywhere on the bathroom taps and probably shaped like fish or something, you know, ridiculous.


“PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES”..The villainous Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pursues Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the trident used by Poseidon..Pictured: Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)..Ph: Film Frame..© Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In previous films, we try and give Barbossa a chance to do good. He almost wins us over and then at the last minute he pulls a fast one and we kick ourselves for giving him a chance. It generally happens with Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl. 

Q- You and Johnny have a great back and forth. Was that natural, or did you have to work on that?

Geoffry Rush: The scripts are always pretty good. They know — the relationship is — we’ve sort of decided now that the Black Pearl is our mutual girlfriend and we both want her, you know. But that sense of harmony’s never always gonna stay there I think.

“PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES” The villainous Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pursues Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the trident used by Poseidon Pictured L to R: Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Jack (Monkey) © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I know that some of you really wanted to know about the Monkey (Jack) that likes to sit on Captain Barbossa’s shoulder. I knew that the monkey has been played by a few capuchin monkey’s over the span of the films, but he plays a funny role, and that is scaring Captain Jack Sparrow! 

Q- I think we’d all love to hear about the monkey a little bit. Did you enjoy that? 

Geoffrey Rush: Yes, the monkey’s great. The monkey’s trained to really have no relationship with me because if it did it would just (he starts grooming his hair). It would be looking for things to eat in my wig.  They’re very loyal to their owner if trained correctly. So, if pulled a sword or somebody yelled fire or whatever, the monkey would just go — they’re very highly strung. So, the monkey is completely in the hands of the trainer. And the trainers are brilliant. They’re able to sort of throw in all the instructions in and around the dialogue. I remember on the first film we’d shot the first meeting with Elizabeth Swann and I’d come down with the monkey on my shoulder, and we had a big dialogue between us. And suddenly when they came in for the close shops, the boson was this massive, deep, black-skinned guy called Isaac Singleton Junior. He was this gentle giant but from somewhere like Louisiana I think, and he hadn’t been there in the earlier shots. And the monkey was kinda going I don’t like this per[son]– and, you know, and I thought, oh, what are we going to do, ’cause we’ve shot some of the dialogue and close-ups and everything. And the trainer said I think it’s okay.

She had this idea of just squirting a water pistol onto Tara’s chest. She had a little vest and everything. And Tara would go ttt (squirt gun sound). Well, so everything looks like she’s looking at Elizabeth Swann, listening to the dialogue. And then I’d say to Keira don’t say any of your lines. I’ll just — I know what I’m questioning. We’ll make sure we get my side of the shot. And then when we’re shooting over the shoulder, we don’t need the monkey over there. And Ursula’s (the monkey’s trainer) is sort of down on the ground going Tara, Tara, Tara, tttt (squirt gun sound). And I’m going, oh, you know, Mrs. Swann, you’re doing — tttt (squirt gun to the eye), oh, sorry, Geoffrey. It was hilarious. And I thought we’re gonna have to dub all of that scene, but we got it done in and around — it’s very funny.

Photo by Louise of MomStart.com

There was one scene where we’re going into the scene and Ursula — she was quite an attractive blonde woman– was down lying on the floor between my legs in the boat sending all of these commands out to Tara.

And then Pablo and Chiquita came. Chiquita was slightly smaller and she was better for fitting under the hat of someone. Pablo was slightly bigger. And he was supposed to do all the stunt work, you see. There was one scene where the monkey had to swim from one boat to the other, and Pablo got on the edge of the boat and just froze and thought, you know, there’s no way I’m doing this. So, you know, Chiquita got on and went, I’ll do it. She jumped in and swam. They were a good team. But was lovely was that they would always be eating — they’re getting peanut rewards or little bits of dried banana and stuff like that.

And I used to love it. It was very comforting, ’cause I’d feel them on my shoulder going, eee eee eee eee eee eee ehuh-eee eee. You know, making all those little noises. And you just get very warm soft, aromatic, peanut breath. So, every time I had the monkey in the scene there was a real kind of, you know, connection. So anyway, when we shot on the Gulf Coast on the last one, I was in having a costume fitting. And they said, oh, Pablo’s having his costume fitting, ’cause they were the little pants and everything and this little frilly shirt.

And he came in and– you know, I thought he won’t [remember me] — this has been five years or something. And he looked across the room at me and went [BIG EXCITED FACE]. And it was so sweet. And it was so sweet and it looked like he was going, ‘Geoff, it’s been five years. We’re baaaack. This is greeeat.’ And doing all this sort of stuff. And I said to Martin, would he remember me over five years? He said, yeah, he’d remember the smell of your ear wax. How affectionate is that? I think Kate Winslow had said that when we did Quills together.

But it was so sweet. And then he gave me as a wrap gift — he came down to me at the end. He gave me a painting that he did. It’s really amazing. It’s framed and it’s an ochre background and it’s got these mad, green sprays, like abstract – I call it abstract simian expressionism.  And then there’s some yellow over on this side. It’s really quite artistic. I don’t know what that is. That could’ve been the contents of the diaper that he wears. I took it on the Chelsea Lately Show and I said — I described all this stuff and everything, and I said this is, you know — there’s a lot of negative space in the — I was talking about it like it was a great painting. And then I go, oh, sorry, it’s the wrong way. Then over on the side of the mount, there’s a little paw print 

Signed. It’s an original by Pablo!

The monkey stories were my favorite. Absolutely the sweetest. 

Make sure to catch Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in theaters May 26th. 

Meghan Cooper
Meghan Cooperhttps://jamonkey.com
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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