Geoffrey Rush on Familiar Ground in “On Stranger Tides”

Geoffrey Rush is certian audiences will have a good time watching “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” but the fun of playing Barbossa – a role he almost turned down – is his real booty.

“Look, whatever fun is generated off the screen for the enjoyment of the audience is a great bonus,” the Oscar-winner – who reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow’s devious rival for the fourth “Pirates” outing – tells PopcornBiz exclusively. He admits that at this point the role is less work and more play.

“Certainly that spirit exists on the set,” says Rush. “It's a pretty big, happy creative family. We've been doing this since 2002 – not only the principal actors but the stunt team, the makeup team, wardrobe team. We've been hanging out with each other for a long time. So we don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. Plus we've had the bonus of a new dynamic with Rob Marshall coming in as director, and having Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz. This ups everyone's game.”

Rush says he was relieved to learn that while the latest film offers something of sea change from the original cast lineup, the writers found a character in the 1987 source novel On Stranger Tides that could be easily morphed into Barbossa so he could keep bedeviling Johhny Depp’s Captain Jack.

“It's fundamental in my mind to keep Barbossa in the whole four chapters, because the bitter argument and the rivalry over the ownership of the pearl has been there right from the beginning,” says Rush. “It's kind of like a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner relationship.”

“Johnny's just a great performer to spar with because we know who Jack Sparrow is, and we now carry various onscreen experiences,” he says of his onscreen nemesis. “But there's always a couple of hidden wild cards up Johnny's sleeve. You never quite know where a scene is going to go, and that keeps you on your toes.”

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