Knightley and Bloom return to piracy on the high seas

EMMA LEE Glamorous Keira Knightley and teen heart-throb Orlando Bloom return to the big screen as young lovers Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner in summer blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, now in cinemas. EMMA LEE listened in when they dropped anchor in London on the promotional trail.

EMMA LEE

In an era of identikit press savvy stars, Keira Knightley is a breath of fresh air. The 21-year-old Oscar-nominated actress definitely isn't afraid to speak her mind. It's the morning after Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has had its glittering premiere in London's Leicester Square. And the hot topic of discussion? Whether she had lost too much weight.

The undeniably slim and very glamorous Pride and Prejudice star was taken by surprise when journalists asked her about her eating habits, adding that although there was a history of anorexia in her family, she didn't have it.

“They said to me, 'How does it feel to be called anorexic?' and I had no idea that I was.


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“I can safely say that I'm not,” she told reporters at London's Claridges hotel.

“I've got a lot of experience with anorexia - my grandmother and great-grandmother suffered from it, and I had a lot of friends at school who suffered from it - so I know it's not something to be taken lightly and I don't.

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“But I don't have it, I am very sure of that,” she said, adding that it was good that it got people talking about the illness.

Knightley admits she can be outspoken.

“I'm unable to stop myself. I don't read anything that's written about me because it's completely unhelpful. Anything nice is too nice; anything that's nasty is too nasty,” she said.

“I reject being a role model. I don't think you can ask anybody to be a role model - I'm the first to admit I make loads of mistakes - but a character can be, like Elizabeth Swann or Elizabeth Bennet [in Pride and Prejudice]. It's lovely when you play a character people look up to.”

She and Kent-born heart-throb Orlando Bloom have reprised their roles as young lovers Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner in the second instalment of the blockbuster trilogy.

While it was Johnny Depp's portrayal of loveable rogue Captain Jack Sparrow which stole the show, it gave Knightley's and Bloom's careers a boost too.

Knightley's role of Elizabeth, which she first played when she was just 17, catapulted her to A-list status and boyishly handsome Bloom's turn as young blacksmith Will led to him working with the acclaimed directors Ridley Scott on Kingdom of Heaven and Cameron Crowe on Elizabethtown.

How did it feel to play the characters again?

“It was great - it was quite scary, really. I've obviously never done a sequel before,” Knightley says. “It was weird trying to find continuity with a character I played when I was 17. She was very straight-laced in the first film. We've made her grow up.

“I remember the first day back and the costumes at the beginning of number two are quite similar, so it was like we had been filming Pirates of the Caribbean the whole time and hadn't stopped. It was very easy to slip back into it.

“I've got a bigger trailer now, which is a real bonus. I've got my own toilet and everything,” she laughs.

“It was also interesting because when we made the first film, no one thought it was going to work. Everyone was going 'this is going to be awful'. We were doing a film based on a Disney theme park ride in a genre that hadn't been done for something like 50 years.”

Of course, the opposite was true - Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, released in 2003, turned out to be a worldwide swashbuckling box-office smash with cross-generational appeal.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski swiftly drew up plans to turn the franchise into a trilogy.

In Dead Man's Chest, with the first film's villain Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) seemingly out of the picture, new enemies squid-faced Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his pet monster the Kraken, and Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) of the East India Trading Company, have stepped into his place.

Elizabeth and Will get embroiled in Captain Jack's troubles once again, leading to the cancellation of their wedding.

For Bloom, the appearance of Will's long-lost father Bootstrap Bill (played by Stellan Skarsgard), was a chance to flesh out the character.

“The introduction of Bootstrap Bill as my father was good for me. It was something cool to play with,” he says. “Stellan is an amazing actor. I felt really lucky to have that storyline. Gore is such a good director, I felt really comfortable knowing he was at the helm. I'm enjoying playing Will. He's developing nicely. I think the writers have done such a good job of taking the character forward. And I get to have a pair of pirate boots this time.”

And what's it like acting opposite Depp?

“Don't look at Johnny,” Bloom says. Apparently Depp's clowning on set regularly has cast and crew in stitches.

“Ignore him at all costs,” adds Knightley. “He was pretty good at the whole British thing before he met us. He can drink like a Brit.”

“It's always wine 30,” quips Bloom.

Importantly, the film has some genuinely laugh-out-loud funny moments, and some neat plot twists - including a kiss between Elizabeth and Captain Jack.

“I had nothing to do with the kiss, although I was happy when I read there was one,” says Knightley.

Both actors did some of their own stuntwork. The set-pieces this time round are truly thrilling and imaginative and include a three-way sword-fight between Will, Captain Jack and Norrington (Jack Davenport), involving a runaway waterwheel.

“The three-way sword-fight was an absolute b****** to shoot,” says Bloom. “It took about two-and-a-half weeks for that moment. A lot went into that sequence.”

Knightley adds: “There's a great stunt team and they did get us personal trainers. We try and do as many stunts ourselves as possible. I swear I shot more sword-fighting than is in the movie.”

The special effects are very convincing, too - the Kraken is the kind of proper old-school scary monster that will give you nightmares. Or at the very least put you off eating squid.

“Any scenes with the Kraken [were hard to do] because there was nothing there,” Knightley says. “Gore was running round going, 'I'm a tentacle, I'm a tentacle'.”

Bloom adds: “I think my hardest scene was with Davy Jones where I have to peer through his tentacles - and there weren't any tentacles there. It was a weird thing to be doing.”

They agreed that it was a treat to see the finished film and find out what Davy Jones actually looked like.

“He [Nighy] was wearing this really nasty grey tracksuit the whole time with dots everywhere,” Knightley explains. The character's appearance was computer generated, but based on his performance and movements.

It wasn't just the stunt work that served up problems: Mother Nature also had a bit of input.

“We were shooting in hurricane alley in hurricane season, which was clever,” says Bloom.

“We got evacuated twice,” says Knightley.

Pirates has a week's head start over the summer's other hotly anticipated blockbuster Superman Returns, which happens to star Bloom's girlfriend Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. Is there any rivalry between the two?

“I'm so proud of her, she's done an amazing job,” he says loyally.

“I think Superman's an amazing film. And, hopefully, they'll both attract a large audience. It's not like we talk about numbers,” he says.

About half of the third film - P3 as the cast have dubbed it - is already in the can, with shooting due to resume in LA soon. It's slated for release next summer.

Knightley and Bloom aren't giving much away about what's in store.

“We were kind of hoping they would do Pirates of Penzance,” Knightley jokes.

But they do let slip that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who was Depp's inspiration for Captain Jack, will be making his rumoured guest appearance.

“If he doesn't kill himself falling out of coconut trees,” Bloom says.

EX_UEA STUDENT RETURNS TO THE BIG SCREEN

Some famous British names provide back-up to the three central characters Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner.

New additions to the cast are Love Actually's Bill Nighy who plays Captain Jack's new enemy, squid-faced ruler of the deep Davy Jones; Tom Hollander (from Pride and Prejudice) as the ruthless and power-hungry Lord Cutler Beckett; and gorgeous Naomie Harris (who's also about to be seen in the big-screen version of Miami Vice) as soothsayer Tia Dalma.

Mackenzie Crook (geeky Gareth in hit sitcom the Office) is back as pirate Ragetti, and former UEA student Jack Davenport reprises his role as James Norrington.

In Dead Man's Chest, Norrington has fallen on hard times, thanks to Captain Jack's shenanigans. Davenport, who studied English and film in Norwich, says he was surprised to be asked back.

“He's lost his girl, his dignity and his wage and I thought that might be it,” says the Talented Mr Ripley star.

“If you turn a single film into a trilogy, you have to take some characters and make them do a 180. In my case, I got to grow a beard,” he deadpans, actually sporting a beard in preparation for filming of part three.

Davenport got the chance to take part in one of the film's most gripping scenes - the three-way swordfight with Captain Jack and Will. It sounds like it was a real labour of love for the trio.

“I'm not the most gifted swordsman and it took an incredibly long time.

“It felt like forever at times,” Davenport laughs.

As for future projects, as well as heading to LA for the filming of P3, he confirmed that the much-rumoured reunion episode of This Life, the groundbreaking drama which made his name, will go ahead.

Does he have fond memories of his time in Norwich?

“I love East Anglia, north Norfolk in particular. I do pass through now and then,” he says.

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