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Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales! Read ahead at your own risk!
Although Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is technically the central star of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, it's arguably Geoffrey Rush's Hector Barbossa who steals every scene. The character has come a long way since The Curse of the Black Pearl, and that complex arc culminated in his sacrifice to save his daughter Carina (Kaya Scodelario) in Dead Men Tell No Tales' final moments. It's easily one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the entire franchise, and Rush recently explained to me that he enjoyed the reveal because it made sense within the context of the franchise. Rush explained:
It's a bit like the Dickens novels that, episode by episode, happen over a long period of time and the readers have a contribution to it. I liked that there was a kind of surprising secret from the past that he's obviously been sitting on and I kind of looked back on the other four films to go, if I had that knowledge, if the writers hadn't come up with that surprise background secret in his life it all made sense. And I thought 'gee maybe that's where Jack the monkey came from' it's a repressed memory that's found a substitute. Everything made sense.
As Geoffrey Rush explained in our recent chat: the reason the Barbossa/Carina twist works (and the reason his death scene works) is because it all makes sense in the grand scheme of every other Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Much like the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker reveal from the Star Wars films, it doesn't feel like a retcon or a copout; you can go back to watch the older films in the franchise, and still feel like that plot point exists in those earlier stories. And, of course, Rush also received bonus points from me for finding a way to liken the Pirates of the Caribbean series to a classic Dickens tale.
Beyond that, I was particularly enamored with Geoffrey Rush's explanation that Jack the monkey is actually a surrogate child to try and fill the void left by Carina. It turns a joke sidekick character into a legitimately emotional core for Barbossa.
All of this was made even more enjoyable for Geoffrey Rush because he has essentially portrayed a different version of Hector Barbossa in each of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The actor continued:
Yeah and even though I wasn't playing those notions. But because he's always been such a transformational character. He's become a politician, he's worked for the King, and now he's a corporate CEO with a vulgarity of wealth, having that slightly more vain narcissistic ruthless survivor character to confront a vulnerability or some hidden emotional core was really great to play in the landscape, the tone, the scale, the big brushstrokes that these stories require.