Zoe Saldaña Gets Candid About Negative Experience On Pirates Of The Caribbean Set And Speaking With Jerry Bruckheimer About It Years Later

Zoe Saldaña has the rare bragging rights of being a star in the two highest grossing movies of all time: Avatar and Avengers: Endgame. But before the actress was a blockbuster queen, her first taste of being on a massive movie's call sheet wasn’t a great experience for her. That movie was 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Zoe Saldaña has shared the negative experience she had playing Anamaria on Disney’s first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Back in 2014, the actress told The Hollywood Reporter that at 23 years old, she found that set in particular to be very “elitist” and felt she was disrespected. Looking back on shooting film now, here’s what Saldaña had to say: 

It was my first exposure to a major Hollywood mega movie, where there were just so many actors and so many producers and so many crew members. We were shooting in different locations, and the environments were not that agreeable, sometimes, to our shoot days. I was very young, and it was just a little too big for me, and the pace of it was a little too fast. I walked away not really having a good experience from it overall. I felt like I was lost in the trenches of it a great deal, and I just didn't feel like that was okay.

Of course, the experience didn’t necessarily deter her from massive projects. Just six years later, she would be among the cast of Star Trek and make subsequent sequels, along with starring in Avatar and multiple Marvel movies. Saldaña continued: 

Years later, I was able to meet with Jerry Bruckheimer, who apologized that I had that experience cause he really wants everyone to have a good experience on his projects. That really moved me — the fact that he remembered that I had mentioned that during press, I guess, or an engagement I had done years before and that he felt compelled to bring it up and to take accountability. … To feel seen and heard as an artist, throughout the years, or even just as a person, means so much.

Jerry Bruckheimer was a producer on the Pirates of the Caribbean films along with many major motion pictures like the Top Gun movies. Per Zoe Saldaña’s recent words to Entertainment Weekly, Bruckheimer saw that she did not enjoy her experience on the set of Pirates and went out of his way to apologize to the actress. Saldaña was touched by his response to her candid thoughts about working on the movie. 

Due to the actress’ feelings about being on the Pirates set, she never appeared in any of the franchise's other movies. Back in 2014, Zoe Saldaña said she thought “the cast was great,” but didn’t like the “political stuff that went on behind closed doors.” After not feeling comfortable there, she decided to “never” put herself in that situation again. 

Despite an early negative experience, she clearly found better places to work, even spending hours in the makeup chair and in motion capture gear for Marvel and Avatar. Saldaña’s latest project is From Scratch, which is a limited Netflix romance drama series produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company.

Following that, she’ll star in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which just released its first trailer ahead of its late November release on Disney+. Then there’s the coming Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, which is sure to be a massive movie once it hits theaters this December. In regards to the future of Pirates of the Caribbean, there have been some hums over the years, but the Disney franchise remains sunken for now. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.