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Casting was the next step for the production. "We always try to populate our movies with great talent,” says Jerry Bruckheimer. "And in this one we were lucky enough to combine respected, well-known veterans with several up-and-coming actors. Excellence begets excellence, and with every additional actor we signed, the bar just moved higher and higher.” 

"We have a dream cast,” says Verbinski. "It's not often that a director has an opportunity like this. To work with a cast of this caliber on a pirate movie is a chance of a lifetime.” 

"The way you get an audience to really embrace a movie is to cast against the grain,” explains Bruckheimer. "You find someone the audience would never expect to see in a Disney movie. 

"I went after Johnny Depp,” he says with a knowing grin. "Johnny is an artist who's known to take on quirkier projects. He's a brilliant actor. He's not out to create a fan base for himself, or to simply select work based on salary; it's clear he needs to find a role that gives back to him artistically. I think he also wanted to do something specifically for his kids.” 

Ironically, Depp's character isn't exactly the kind of guy you'd want your kids to emulate. "Jack Sparrow's the type of character that you enjoy watching steal money from a little old lady,” says Verbinski. "He is basically a con man—he's lazy, he's a great pirate, but he is not going to fight if he doesn't have to. He's always going to take a shortcut. I think the big thing for Captain Jack Sparrow is his myth. He's kind of his own best agent—he markets himself very well.” 

"Jack Sparrow's a rogue, but he doesn't have a dark heart,” adds Orlando Bloom, who plays the role of Will Turner. "He's a man trying to live with integrity.” 

Depp was attracted by the opportunity to create a totally new character from scratch. "It was a different kind of role for me. It was a great opportunity to invent this pirate from the ground up, to create a different kind of pirate than you have seen before.” 

The filmmakers gave the actor free reign to be creative with the character. "Johnny's known for creating his own characters,” says Bruckheimer. "He had a definite vision for Jack Sparrow which is completely unique. We just let him go and he came up with this off-center, yet very shrewd pirate. He can't quite hold his balance, his speech is a bit slurred, so you assume he's either drunk, seasick or he's been on a ship too long. But it's all an act perpetrated for effect. And strange as it seems, it's also part of Captain Jack's charm.” 

Depp also appreciated the mischievous nature and never-say-die attitude of his character. "In Jack, I saw a guy who was able to run between the raindrops. He can walk across the DMZ, entertain a troop and then sashay back to the other side and tell the enemy another story. He tries to stay on everyone's good side because he's wise enough to know he might need them in the future. 

"No matter how bad things got, there was always this sort of bizarre optimism about him,” continues the actor. "I also thought there was something beautiful and poignant about the idea of his objective. All he wants is to get his ship back, which represents nothing more than pure freedom to him. Of course he'll thieve and do whatever it takes, especially when the opportunity arises, but his main focus is just to get the Black Pearl back at whatever cost.” 

"Jack's one mission is to get back his ship,” echoes Verbinski. "Again, it's about the simplicity of the character: his great love and his great freedom are his ship. He's not the villain and he's not the love interest, although he does think he's got a chance with Elizabeth. Jack Sparrow is a bit of an oddball. Johnny's character is not unlike Lee Marvin's in ‘Cat Ballou.' He really just floats through the story affecting all around him while pursu

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