Go back four years and if you saw Kevin McNally in the street, you might have vaguely recognised him, thanks to a background thick with impressive turns in both TV and film as a solid character actor. Times have changed for McNally: today he can’t even take the kids out without fielding stares from awestruck ankle-biters – because in 2003, the Bristol-born actor became a pirate.
“It’s certainly changed my relationship with my children’s school friends because they just can’t believe that someone from Pirates Of The Caribbean is driving them to McDonalds; it’s a real notch above anything you’ll ever do as an actor and great to be part of.”
The amiable McNally, who plays pirate Joshamee Gibbs, is relaxing on a yacht with his family, courtesy of Disney, sipping champagne with Total Film as he talks honestly about the blockbuster that every man and his parrot expected to be a big flop.
“The difficulty is that people didn’t have any expectation of that movie. They thought, ‘Oh, this is a pirate film, based on a ride, it’s going to be a bit of a stinker.’ So even though we’re obviously elated to get back together and have another bash at it, we’re also very aware that the level of expectation is really, really high. But I feel we can be pretty confident with the outcome.”
McNally is talking about the follow-up to the hugely successful Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl – Dead Man’s Chest. As the movie hits cinemas, the cast and crew are preparing to head out to LA and finish up the third movie in the trilogy. The question is, how do you make parts two and three different?
“We expect people to go gunning for it a little but the greatest thing about Dead Man’s Chest for me is you get to find out a lot more about Jack Sparrow. You see why he is so bizarre and jumpy – Jack has got some big problems. His motives are never clear. The end of the movie relies upon whether or not he’s going to do the right thing and you really don’t know if he will or not.”
Director Gore Verbinski made sure at least a third of part three was in the can before his Pirates headed off to promote Dead Man’s Chest. The plot for the last flick, entitled At World’s End, is proving harder to track down than Davy Jones’ locker. Total Film begs McNally to reveal the odd tasty morsel.
“Well, we head to Singapore and it picks up where part two ends. The third film is a real departure from the first two. It deals with the mythology of pirates, the legend and I think it’s a clever idea rather than repeating part two.”
Flick forward through time to Monday 3rd July and Leicester Square is packed with Pirates bearing swinging cutlasses and badly-tied bandanas. The crew of The Black Pearl are in town for the European premiere of Dead Man’s Chest and if they didn’t know it already, the crowds are an indication that the public’s thirst for the swashbuckling adventure series hasn’t yet been quenched. Total Film corners McNally once more, while Johnny Depp works the hysterical crowd.
“The kids love Jack Sparrow,” laughs McNally, “because he’s totally amoral and completely out for himself. The only other movie I can think of that’s had a character like that was the Star Wars trilogy with Han Solo – this unreliable character that comes good in the end. Plus Pirates is one of the last true, handmade adventure movies. I’m not sure any other director will head out to sea with five big ships and just blow them up.”