A Pirates Masterpiece Monday


I just saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales which was a perfect addition to my absolute favourite film franchise and so I thought I’d make a Masterpiece Monday post about Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Today’s concept art is a early piece of costume design art for Jack Sparrow. It was most likely drawn by Penny Rose, who has been the costume designer for every film in the franchise. This costume design is obviously very different from Jack Sparrow’s famous costume, much more romantic and less disheveled than in the final film. This is in large part because this design most likely came before Johnny Depp started to get involved in creating his costume. In fact Depp played a huge part in creating every aspect of Captain Jack Sparrow.

The creation of Jack Sparrow’s costume was very much a collaborative process between Penny Rose and Johnny Depp. The main part of the process was a hour long fitting session. Rose provided dozens of options for each part of Jack’s costume and Depp chose what he felt fit his character best, making instructions for alterations when necessary.  Depp carefully selected each of Jack’s accessories with a story for the character in mind. For example, Jack wears a piece of Spanish lace tied around his wrist that is meant to be a trophy he took from a woman he once slept with. This also applies to Jack’s many rings. He has one designed after the rings that Spanish widows wore, another souvenir from a conquest. Another of his rings is modeled after a real Greco-Roman ring owned by a friend of Johnny’s and is meant to be a piece of ancient treasure picked up in one of Jack’s travels. He also has a jade ring with a dragon on it, from one of his many visits to Singapore. Depp even provided some of his own accessories to be used in the film, including a ring he picked up at a thrift-shop in the 80s. Jack’s dread-locks with little bits and bobbles tied in was entirely Depp’s idea. It was based on the hairstyle of his good friend Keith Richards, who was constantly tying souvenirs of his travels into his hair. These hair accessories were also hand-selected by Depp with various stories in mind. Two particular favorite’s of Depp’s was the long shin-bone of a reindeer and a pretty blue crystal. Even Jack’s hat was hand selected by Depp. Penny Rose presented him a number of hats at the end of their fitting, and Depp immediately selected the one in the film as the perfect hat for Jack and refused to try on any others. Jack Sparrow was very much a part of Depp and he knew exactly what the character should look like.

Jack Sparrow was very much Johnny Depp’s creation in a number of other ways. As you can see from this costume design art, Jack was originally imagined as a more romanticized stereotypical swashbuckler. Depp didn’t want to go that way with the character as he felt that he had seen that in films far too many times before. Instead, he pictured Jack as a 18th century rock-star of the sea. So he based his characters personality and mannerisms after Keith Richards. He also took some of the character’s mannerisms and manner of speaking from the cartoon skunk, Pepe la Pew. While this drawing depicts a very traditionally handsome pirate, Depp actually wanted his character to look unattractive. He had some pretty crazy ideas for ways in which to do this. One of his earliest ideas for the character was for him to have had his nose cut off in battle and poorly stitched back on. This would have given him an ugly blue nose, and would have led to bits of comedy with Jack having sneezing fits that lead to his nose falling off. The director felt this idea to be a little too outrageous and rejected it. Depp’s next idea was to give Jack a mouth completely full of gold teeth, and this made it all the way until filming when it was discovered that the teeth appeared blindingly bright on camera. The gold teeth were then reduced to just a few, some of which actually belonged to Depp. In the end Depp got some of the disheveled rock-star pirate he was imagining in Jack Sparrow, a far cry from the handsome leading man in this drawing.

Hope you enjoyed this look at Penny Rose and Johnny Depp’s creation of Jack Sparrow for Pirated of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I know today’s article was very different than my typical animation articles, but I just had to show some love for my absolute favorite film.


Image Credit: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: 2 Disc Collectors Edition



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