‘Pirates of the Caribbean’: Why Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp Hid Their On-Screen Kiss From Orlando Bloom

You might expect that actors coming onto a film set have read the entire script. However, it’s not uncommon for directors to hide certain plot elements from actors to get a more intense performance. It’s a practice similar to method acting, where actors commit to staying in-character even when the cameras are off. Both techniques add realism to a film or show and are used in many things that you may have seen.

The Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise used some of these techniques. One iconic line from the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was improvised by Johnny Depp and kept in the final cut. When Johnny Depp’s character, Captain Jack Sparrow, regained his control over his ship, the Black Pearl, Depp improvised the line “Now, bring me that horizon.” The line worked well in the scene and served as a hook for the many sequels in the franchise.

Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, and Orlando Bloom smiling at the camera
Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, and Orlando Bloom | Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Another moment that included some elements of improvisation came in the second film in the series, Dead Man’s Chest. Two of the main characters in the franchise, Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner, are in love and engaged to be married. At the beginning of Dead Man’s Chest, however, Swann is arrested and Turner escapes. The two try to reunite, and Swann ends up aboard Jack Sparrow’s ship yet again.

Meanwhile, Sparrow has a debt to Davy Jones and is avoiding getting dragged by the Kraken to the bottom of the sea. Near the end of the movie, the Kraken comes for Sparrow’s ship and is about to sink it. However, the Kraken only wants Sparrow and not his crew. To save the crew, Swann distracts Sparrow and cuffs him to the mast, and the crew flees while the Kraken sinks the ship.

The Kiss

How does Swann distract Sparrow? She kisses him while she restrains him to the mast. While this happens, Will Turner is there watching. The character would have to be shocked by seeing his fiancee kissing the pirate captain she’s been sailing with. So, the directors didn’t tell Bloom that Sparrow and Swann would kiss, according to The Things. His cast-mates also kept this a secret from him, so his response is completely genuine.


Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann

Luckily for Bloom’s character, Swann still ended up marrying Turner in the next film, At World’s End. After freeing Jack Sparrow from being trapped in Davy Jones’ Locker, they married during battle and shortly after, conceived a child. In Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbossa had attempted to lead a mutiny against Sparrow and been killed, though he’s resurrect to captain the ship in At World’s End.


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Geoffrey Rush had actually felt a bit anxious about shooting with Keira Knightley. Rush was afraid that viewers would be more interested in Knightley than him, so he insisted on always being on the left side of the shot. Viewers tend to look from left to right in a scene, so if Rush was on the right, they would at least see him first.

These behind-the-scenes secrets of Pirates of the Caribbean might change how you see the character dynamics. However, they add together to what was and still is a highly successful film franchise. And while 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales wasn’t as successful as Disney had hoped, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the series – though Turner, Swann, and Jack Sparrow might not be the focus of a new Pirates of the Caribbean film. Either way, fans will still remember these characters and their actors’ performances fondly.

 [Correction, 9/10/2020: An earlier version of this story stated Jack Sparrow was in Davy Jones’ Locker at the time of Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner’s Wedding, when he had at that point been freed.]