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Calling Action!
"There's no one better at creating action than George Marshall Ruge,” says Jerry Bruckheimer of the stunt coordinator/ department head and second unit director who had previously devoted his skills to the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean” movies as well as the two "National Treasure” hits (not to mention Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings” trilogy).

"This particular ‘Pirates' movie has more of the vibe of the first film, very much character-driven, especially by Johnny as Captain Jack,” says Ruge. "I'm very comfortable designing action for that character. I feel like I know him like a family member. And then we have the new characters, and it was important for me to get a handle on them and to make sure that we blended those characterizations together in a way that animates the story.”

Ruge and his key collaborators in the stunt department, including Assistant Stunt Coordinator Daniel Barringer, Sword Master (and Stunt Double) Thomas Dupont, UK Stunt Coordinator Greg Powell and Head Stunt Rigger Kurt Lott, created a range of elaborate set pieces which often defied the laws of gravity, including Captain Jack's 25-foot leap off a jungle cliff in Kauai and another dive off an exploding lighthouse in the Whitecap Bay scene, an intricately choreographed sword fight inside the Captain Daughter pub's vast two-level storeroom, the thrilling carriage chase through the streets of London, the rigging of the Queen Anne's Revenge coming to life and hoisting mutinous pirates up to the yardarms, the unprecedented mermaid attack sequence and a monumental climax at the Fountain of Youth (which Ruge began rehearsing with his stunt team in March but didn't begin filming until October). For filming in England, Ruge and Powell enlisted no fewer than 100 stunt players.

The leading players certainly enjoyed the physicality of their roles. "All my great heroes were basically silent-film guys, where they didn't have the luxury of words,” notes Depp, whose dexterous performances throughout his career have amply displayed his balletic physicality.

"I did two months of training in Los Angeles before filming began with George and his amazing team of people,” adds Penélope Cruz. "They taught me to lose the fear and how to be 100-percent alert.”

"You know, ‘Pirates' has taken up seven years of my life, so I feel protective of it,” concludes George Ruge. "When you put that kind of time into anything, you want it to be memorable.”

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