Cruz keeps 'Pirate' berth afloat through pregnancy

May 13, 2011 - 7:15 AM

CANNES, France (AP) — There was no way the commanders of "Pirates of the Caribbean" were going to make Penelope Cruz walk the plank off the franchise's latest picture after she told them she was pregnant.

The filmmakers wanted her aboard so badly they charted a fresh course on the latest installment — "On Stranger Tides" — to accommodate Cruz's condition so she could shoot the film, which has its Cannes Film Festival premiere Saturday before sailing into theaters worldwide starting Wednesday.

Carrying her first child with husband Javier Bardem a year ago, Cruz broke the news to "Pirates" star Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Rob Marshall not long before the shooting began.

"I just wanted to make the decision with them, with Rob and Johnny and Jerry," Cruz said in an interview in Los Angeles before heading to Cannes, where she will join Depp on the festival's grand red carpet. "They had been incredibly kind with their response and protective and generous and really caring at every single step of this, the process of making this movie."

Cruz had thought the filmmakers might fear that her pregnancy could hinder the action scenes of the high-seas spectacle, in which she and Depp engage in elaborate sword battles, shipboard stunts and treks through jungles and caves.

In fact, the filmmakers themselves were worried that Cruz herself might jump ship, deciding against such an arduous shoot while pregnant.

Bruckheimer said he had Cruz's photo on the drawing board while first developing her character, the fiery daughter of pirate Blackbeard, who's sailing his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, in search of the fountain of youth.

Bruckheimer says he never imagined another actress than Cruz going head-to-head with Depp's woozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow.

"I was worried that she would back out. Fortunately, we talked to her and she said, 'No, I'll do it. I would love to do it. I can't wait.' I said, 'Great.' That was my biggest concern," Bruckheimer said. "I do a lot of television, and we've had so many actresses who get pregnant during their series and we figure out how to do it. So that didn't concern me."

The filmmakers adjusted the schedule so more of Cruz's scenes were shot early, before she began to show. And while she did all her close-up action scenes, more work was done by a stunt double in the wider shots.

"I only did what was safe," Cruz said. "That was also very important for them, not just for me."

Co-star Geoffrey Rush, reprising his role as Sparrow's foil Barbossa, said any alterations made to accommodate Cruz were worth it.

Rush is a big fan of Woody Allen, whose "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" earned Cruz a supporting-actress Academy Award, and he said Cruz's versatility added great energy to the latest "Pirates" flick.

"You had the fiery Latin temperament in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' turned into high art, high comedy in Penelope's hands, but then you see her in a Pedro Almodovar film and you go, 'She's the world's greatest dramatic actress,'" Rush said. "Having that come on to the Queen Anne's Revenge, it's as good as it gets."

Cruz gave birth to her son last January.

"On Stranger Tides" director Marshall, who also directed Cruz to an Oscar nomination in the 2009 musical "Nine," said he likes to imagine that while the actress was eating for two, she also may have been acting for two.

"She had a little boy," Marshall said. "I love the fact there might have been some of that little masculine energy in there, this little pirate in there, helping her be like a tomboy pirate. So maybe it was sort of fortuitous."