On behalf of the PotC Wiki community, I would like to thank Jim Byrkit for being such a considerate and thoughtful interviewee. He answered all of our questions and more with so much detail and it’s clear that he's a great contributor to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
But before we get into the interview itself, I like to thank Jim for also answer some of the in-universe questions. Though I admit I had my doubts that they'd be answered in this interview, but I promised I'd ask them nonetheless(as one was the most voted question in our community vote). Here they are, for the curious:
7. After Lord Cutler Beckett mentions the death of The Kraken, and then it is shown on shore, one thing had me thinking. How did the Kraken die? I understand it cannot survive without water, but there is a chance it just washed up on the shore, and if not, what influenced the beast to go onto that beach? - from Captaingoldvane2
- Jim Byrkit: The Kraken... I always took it to be a symbol of the old magic dying up now that the British force was bearing down on the seas. So we're not sure if the armada hunted it down, or forced Jones to let it die... but the implication is that the old ways are not going to last. The map is being filled in... the unknown parts are being filled in.
- Byrkit: Yes, the intention, when Gore and I were discussing it, was to have it feel like Davy Jones finally merged with Calypso, the sea that he had been in love with. So he has found peace.
So hopefully these answered some questions. However...I feel I should point out that these two particular answers are not to be taken as official! Like Terry Rossio's view on the fate of Will and Elizabeth, these are just opinions that you can either accept it or not...it's your choice on if it's true or not. Me personally, I'm up for any sort of explanation for some events as long as it doesn't seem a bit extreme, in my own personal view at least.
And now, without further ado, here's the full interview with questions PotC Wiki carefully selected!
Note: some of the questions were reworded for making them seem more...interview-ish.
Tell us about yourself. Where did your career initially begin? How did you become the movie maker you are today?(whether it be directing, acting, or anything relating to your passion and exert of artistic expression?)
- Jim Byrkit: I loved to draw as a kid. As I got older, I realized I enjoyed acting, music, photography and travel. All the things that I loved seemed to combine in movies, which was a wonderful thing.
How did POTC start in your life? How has it impacted your career and passions?
- Byrkit: I was a storyboard artist for years once I was out of school and Gore was directing commercials when we met. We worked on tons of projects together, so when he called me up to say he was doing the first Pirates, I said “I’ll be right over!”
1. Of all your past experiences with Pirates(including making various storyboards and film props), what was your favorite(s)?
- Byrkit: The location scouts were quite adventurous and fun. I loved cruising around remote parts of the Caribbean looking for just the right place to set a scene. And of course, making the map. That was a joy.
2. You were involved in POTC since the very first location scout to the Caribbean with director Gore Verbinski. Which was your favorite location you visited in the filming of all 3 films? Also, in your opinion, which was the most dangerous out of all of them? - from Captaingoldvane2
- Byrkit: The most dangerous was also my favorite. We were on the island of Dominica, scouting inlets and the boat left us behind because of the tide. So we had to find our way home through the jungle. That was ridiculous and exhausting but really great. Now that I’ve stopped itching.
3. About Sao Feng's map, you said you were kind of inspired by a Chinese allegory map. Aside from Davy Jones' Locker and the Fountain of Youth, were there any other super important locations added onto the map?
- Byrkit: I wrote a lot of death-inspired passages to be included on the map that were translated by the calligrapher. There were different versions of the map, one with a fairly accurate piece of Florida and Mexico. There is the version barely seen in 4 with the lighthouse and mermaids that is the most beautiful. There are rings on the map that are symbolic of lands that can only be accessed through dreams. That would make a good story.
- Byrkit: Kris Peck, the prop Master, called and said that he wanted to give Gore and Jerry Bruckheimer an awesome working Codex. So could I help fill the pages with the kinds of things pirates would include? Recipes for rum drinks, dirty poems, pirate gossip, records of sale, codes and secret symbols, and the “guidelines” they are always talking about. We had to work quick so most of it was just right out of my head. Kris really worked to make that book amazing and it was a blast helping out on that.
5. Two of my favorite actors in the first 3 films are Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) and Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa). Which one of them do you think portrayed a better performance? - from Captaingoldvane2
- Byrkit: Well, the good news is that they are both such great people that I can say it’s equal. I think Geoffrey makes me laugh more but Bill amazes me with every tiny nuance of his face. You also have to credit ILM with Davy Jones because they took every bit of Bill’s performance and created it brand new with there animated character. There is not one single pixel of Bill in those shots of Davy Jones, and yet you feel him completely there.
6. After the Pirates Trilogy was concluded, you got the chance to work with Gore again in Rango, in which you did some voice acting, most notably as the voice of Waffles, a horned toad. How was doing voices for several Rango characters and is doing different voices a talent you always have and something you do to entertain your friends and family? - from Pearl of Freedom
- Byrkit: I don’t do a lot of silly voices but we had some specific ideas on Rango that I happened to be able to pull off. I think we just got used to my voice in the temp audio. But Waffles was actually quite difficult—if you do extremely loud whispering for a long time you end up with horrible hiccups. Every day!
7. For these next questions, we're getting away from Pirates for a bit. Since you wrote and directed a sci fi feature film Fractalus, is your career goal to be a director/writer like Cameron, Nolan, Jackson, etc? - from Pearl of Freedom
- Byrkit: Oh yes. Those guys have dream jobs! That would be great.
8. Is directing a sci fi movie a sign of your preference for geek genres (say Yes, please!) or opportunity that came naturally due to your story-board experience with such movies? - from Pearl of Freedom
- Byrkit: You gotta follow your inner geek. Ever since I was a little kid, science fiction would send my imagination into overdrive.
- Oh, yeah. You have to follow your inner geek.
9. What movies, directors, story board artists you geek out for the most? - from Pearl of Freedom
- Byrkit: Christopher Nolan is, of course, amazing. David Fincher is stunning in his craft. Hayao Miyazaki is a master of story and style. I also like weird retro stuff from the 1970’s… ElectroWoman and Dyna-Girl and other bizarre shows by Sid and Marty Crofft. Space 1999. Gerry Anderson’s “UFO”… the sketchbooks of Joe Johnston. “The Green Slime” by Kinji Fukasaku is great.
10. Now getting back to Pirates. Using borrowed sets, you were able to bring a new POTC story to life in the short film Tales of the Code: Wedlocked, which was released last year. How did Wedlocked come to be? Where did it all start? What made Disney decide to make it with you involved with this project?
- Byrkit: I was on set, marveling at the work of Rick Heinrichs, and told Gore “we should shoot a movie here in off hours.” And he said “Go for it!” So I went to Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and asked if they had an idea for a short about the Pirate Code. They thought that Vanessa Branch and Lauren Maher, the wenches, should have their own story and we started writing Wedlocked. The dvd department gave us some money to scrape together a crew, rent a 16 mm camera, and shoot for three days. And Vanessa and Lauren turned out to be awesome.
By the time Wedlocked was done, were there any desires or ideas of doing more Tales of the Code? If such an opportunity arose, would you be interested in directing another one...or maybe taking on a feature POTC movie since you did an amazing job with a short one?
- Byrkit: I wish. I would be ready, any day to direct anything Pirates needs… whether it’s a movie or a puppet show.
At the moment, what are your current plans for 2012? What are your most anticipated movies of 2012?
- Byrkit: Prometheus!! That looks outrageous. The sound design for the trailer is mind blowing.
- I’m hoping to get some writing done and start shooting something soon!
I hope you enjoyed the interview, everyone! Jim Byrkit also wanted to tell all POTC fans that he (and every else who worked on the films) is very happy to know there are people in the world who take pleasure in the creativity of the Pirates universe, and that(quoting): The movies were made for audiences to appreciate and discover details - that's why so much effort went into them.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I will try to clarify it for you.