Earlier this week we were out in New Mexico with the cast and crew of next month’s “The Lone Ranger,” a movie that reunites the cast and crew of the original three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films – director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and star Johnny Depp (this time trading his matted, beady dreadlocks in for a long, feathery mane to play the mystical Tonto). We got to sit down with super-producer Bruckheimer to talk about the making of “The Lone Ranger,” and while you’ll have to wait a little while for that, we wanted to bring you his updates on sequels to two of his most beloved properties – “Pirates of the Caribbean” (of course) and “Top Gun.“
It was recently announced that Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, the directors behind Best Foreign Language Feature nominee “Kon-Tiki,” would be directing the fifth (!) “Pirates of the Caribbean” feature, loosely slotted to be part of Disney‘s unstoppable 2015 slate. (Rob Marshall directed the billion-dollar-grossing fourth film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”) We asked Bruckheimer what made him so sure that the relatively unknown filmmakers could tackle such a beloved (not to mention lucrative) franchise.
“We saw their movie early on, maybe six months ago, and I saw some of their other work, which I thought was terrific. That convinced me,” Bruckheimer explained. “They were interested in doing it and they flew over and we showed them a script that we were working on and they had really amazing ideas.” The producer also offered a progress report on the project: “Last Friday they came to Hollywood and settled in and started working on it. We’re hiring production designers now and it’s moving forward.”
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Bruckheimer said that the fifth film would maintain the previous movies’ mixture of high seas adventure and supernatural horror (“Absolutely”). We had been told that at least part of the new movie would be set in America, specifically New Orleans, which Bruckheimer sort-of confirmed. “We’re certainly going to be filming in Louisiana because of the tax breaks and I think there might be a sequence there,” Bruckheimer said. Before quickly adding: “But it will also be set in the Caribbean, obviously.”
On the subject of “Top Gun 2,” a long-awaited sequel to the immortal macho masterpiece (directed by the late, great Tony Scott), Bruckheimer maintains that it’s still being worked on, as it has been “for 30 years.” We wondered if Christopher McQuarrie, the screenwriter behind “The Usual Suspects” and writer/director of “Jack Reacher,” was still working on the script, as he had been when Scott was still alive. Is McQuarrie still working on it? “No,” Bruckheimer said. “He’s working on ‘Mission: Impossible 5.'”
He says the general atmosphere around the project has changed, however. “We’re at a point right now where everybody wants to make it,” he explained. “For a while it was Tom was excited about it but the studio didn’t want to commit or the studio was excited and Tom didn’t want to do it. And that’s been going on for 30 years. And now we’re at a point where the studio is excited and Tom is excited.” Always willing to give credit where credit is due, Bruckheimer points once again to Scott: “A lot of that has to do with Tony’s vision. He had a really exciting vision and he got everybody excited about it. That enthusiasm carried forward.” When we asked if the production was going to utilize Tony’s version the was working at the time of his tragic suicide, Bruckheimer confirmed (sort of): “I think so.”
We couldn’t resist asking Bruckheimer to share some memories of Scott, who worked with Bruckheimer on “Beverly Hills Cop II,” “Top Gun,” “Déjà vu,” “Enemy of the State” and “Days of Thunder.” “He was fantastic,” Bruckheimer said, still sounding like he couldn’t believe he was using the past tense when discussing his frequent creative confederate. “He had phenomenal energy. He was a guy who could do anything and had such a drive and a sense of adventure, even in his own life – he drove motorcycles, he’d crash them. We were filming in monument valley and he showed me this mountain that was way up there and he said, ‘See that mountain, I had a helicopter take me and my girlfriend up there and dropped us and we climbed down.’ Crazy stuff that he did…” Bruckheimer then trailed off and for a moment let the sadness hang in the air.
“The Lone Ranger” opens on July 3rd. We’ll have lots more our interview with Bruckheimer between now and then.