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2011-05-19 09:46:34 Views : 3030 |

Cruz delights in her crafty Pirates of the Caribbean role

Detroit Free Press

The hardest thing about a pirate's life for Penélope Cruz was not all the swashbuckling and sword fighting and sailing the high seas.

It was not even the added rigor of being a pregnant pirate as she filmed her scenes last summer for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" while carrying her first child, a son with husband Javier Bardem born early this year.

Cruz says her toughest job on the fourth "Pirates" flick, overseen by her "Nine" director Rob Marshall, was staying in character opposite Johnny Depp as woozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow.

"He would provoke me and always make me laugh," Cruz says. "It was harder than the swordfights, for sure."

Cruz, 37, was easy pickings for Depp and Marshall, who landed her without having to put out much bait. She had been friends with Depp since they costarred in 2001's crime drama "Blow," while Marshall directed Cruz to her third Oscar nomination in the 2009 musical "Nine."

Marshall popped the question to Cruz over dinner in London as they were finishing work on "Nine." He already had sounded out Depp and "Pirates" producer Jerry Bruckheimer about casting her as Sparrow's old flame.

Cruz says the decision to enlist took no thought at all. Marshall says when he brought up the idea toward the end of their dinner, Cruz jumped up and said yes as soon as he hit the word "pirates."

"I hugged him and I said yes, even before I read the script," Cruz recalls. "Then I read it, and I discovered it was this manipulative pirate and a character so full of colors and contrasts and contradictions. I was very happy with the material when I read it. I thought there were a lot of possibilities. It's so much fun to play a liar because I'm not a good liar in life. Other people think that if you're an actor, you're supposed to be a good liar in your life. It's almost the opposite. No, no, I'm not a good liar, but I love playing a liar."

Cruz plays Angelica, Sparrow's embittered former lover, the daughter of dreaded pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Angelica, her dad and Sparrow follow explorer Ponce de Leon's search for the fountain of youth, with pirate-turned-British-privateer Barbossa (returning costar Geoffrey Rush) in pursuit.

As the production date neared, Cruz found out she was pregnant. Marshall and Bruckheimer worried she might back out, but she remained game to do the film, and they changed course to accommodate her.

The schedule was adjusted to shoot more of Cruz's scenes before she started to show. The costume designer created an elastic corset to allow her to move more freely, and her outfits were constantly being altered.

Cruz did all of her close-up action scenes, though her pregnancy forced the filmmakers to use a stunt double on more of the wide shots.

"And we were very clever how we shot her," Marshall says. "It took more time, but it was worth it. ... I realized for me that there was only one person. That was Penélope. So we knew that we'd rather work with her and make it work because she was so right for the role."

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