Keith Richards and Johnny Depp hire CREEM hacks to polish first draft of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Treasures Of The Lost Abyss !!!
Musso & Franks Grill on Hollywood Blvd. (or MF as it's better known) is the oldest and swankiest place in Hollywood; vintage high back wood booths and tin ceiling tile make it the ideal kind of location that Keith Richards and Johnny Depp would pick for a story conference.
After publicly griping to anyone who would listen that the leaked first draft "wasn't rock 'n' roll enough," the MFIC and I were put on a retainer as script doctors to punch up key sections of the first draft of Disney's forthcoming major motion picture Pirates Of The Caribbean: Treasures Of The Lost Abyss.
In it, Johnny Depp will be making his first movie sequel by reprising his Oscar-nominated role as Captain Jack Sparrow, while the real-life inspiration for his character, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, will be making his acting debut as Jack's estranged father, the notorious pirate Daddy Jack.
With a tape recorder running to capture every comment, we began showing Depp and Richards the revisions we had made. First up was an action scene on page 124 which featured a large battle between Captain Jack's ship and a rival pirate vessel. We explained that the scene needed an additional incident to show Jack's ability to light a fire under his men and motivate them despite the odds being overwhelmingly against them.
To convey this, we had written a new scene just before the fight begins where Captain Jack swings onto the deck with his sword held high, and rouses the gang's spirits by passionately yelling out: "I'll fight but not surrender cried… the wild Caribbean boy!"
"I like that!" Johnny said enthusiastically upon hearing it. "It might even become a catchphrase or something! You've got to admit it's got a nice rhythm to it…" At this point, he began humming to himself: "I'll fight but not surrender cried…"
"No, no, no…" Keith muttered, looking over. "I hate that line."
"Why?" a perplexed Depp asked. "What’s wrong with it?"
"Deppo, it reminds me of something," Keith drawled. "Something unpleasant that I can’t put my finger on. And I especially don’t like this line on the next page where you have me saying, ‘Friend or foe, stand and deliver! Your money or your life!’ "
We started to speak, but Keith raised a skull-ringed hand to protest.
"I’m serious but not desperate," he slurred. "And I am adamant.
"That’s all right, we suggested; we can come back to it later. Next up was a scene on page 168 when Sparrow's gang of pirates starts fighting amongst themselves over a stash of loot while the ship is in port. We'd added a new scene where Jack and his Dad take a stand on the deck and display their strong authority by confronting the rebellious crew.
Looking at the additional passages marked in the script, Johnny and Keith began reading their new dialogue aloud.
CAPT'N JACK: Hey…hey pirates! Come on now! That means everybody just cool out! Will you cool out everybody?
DADDY JACK: A fight broke out.
CAPT'N JACK: I know. I'm hip. Everybody be cool now. Come on, all right? Uh, pirates, I mean, who's fighting what for? Who's fighting and what for? We don't want to fight, come on!
DADDY JACK: (pointing) Look, that guy there, if he doesn't stop it, man… Listen, either those cats cool it man, or we don't sail!"
"Wait a minute," Johnny said, shaking his head slowly. "I'm afraid those lines don't sound very believable to me. I honestly can't imagine anyone saying something as weak and ineffective as that in a life threatening situation."
"Either those cats cool it or we don't sail?" Keith wheezed. "What kind of lame ultimatum is that? This is supposed to be Pirates Of The Caribbean not Pansies Of The Caribbean."
Suddenly Keith dropped his script and began laughing out loud. "Now this is a new line that I definitely like!"
"What line is that?" Depp asked, looking over.
"Here, on the last page," Keith indicated. "It's the final scene where we've reconciled. You make a sarcastic remark and I turn to you and say: "Comical little geezer, aren't ya? You'll look funny when you're fifty." Once again Keith roared with laughter.
"I don't find that line humorous at all."
"Johnny, Johnny, Johnny," Keith Richards rasped, draping a hand over Depp's shoulder. "You shouldn't take it so hard!"
At this point, with the proceedings declining and the bar tab climbing, we managed to surreptitiously slip out the back door. As we left, the MFIC yelled over his shoulder: "We'll bid you both a fond adieu! On with the show, to hell with you!"