Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning [Photo Credit: Louise at]

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales directors, Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning have been making films together for a while now. Seriously. At the age of 10, they started making movies together and they still have some of them around. How fun would it be to be able to see some of these now?

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

[We asked them about what it took to get the 5th Pirates Of The Caribbean movie made.]

Espen Sandberg: We really wanted to make this movie. And I think the basic reason as you know Joachim and I started making movies together when we were 10. Movies that inspired us back then were the Spielberg and Lucas and Zemeckis films. And this franchise just reminds us of that. It has that unique blend of spectacle and humor and scary parts and also a lot of heart. So that meant a lot to us.

[Then they shared with us about the ghost sharks in the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, these sharks are badass!]

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Joachim Ronning: That was important to work. The design of the ghosts became a long process that we did together with Javier Bardem as well. And …going in and trying to find what can give it a ghostly appearance and then without losing the actors basically. Javier is so wonderful and you don’t want to mess it up. So, that’s where it started. And then the ghost sharks came from that trying to be a part of that family, so to speak.

[Because you work as a team so often, do you have individual roles because you’ve been working so long?]

Joachim Ronning: You know we don’t really know any other way of doing this than being together. For us, it’s a very natural process. And I think it’s a collaborative one. We include the actors and the crew as part of the discussion. And we try to create safe work environments. That’s important to us.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning [Photo Credit: Louise at]

Joachim Ronning: This has been a very long journey for us. I think almost four years! Almost four years we’ve been working on this movie which is long even for big movies. In that process [was] 1 ½ year just working on the script [with] so many different versions and ideas. The process is very long and complex. I think that probably one of the things that we had the most versions of is probably Jack Sparrow’s back story and his origin story, you know, how he became Jack Sparrow and all of that.

We had like 10, 15 versions of that. That was a long and grueling process because the mythology of Pirates of the Caribbean, I think it’s a complex mythology. You know there’s a lot of fans out there that know everything. And so it was important for us to be ahead of that and not mess with any back stories.

Espen Sandberg: And we also wanted to blend that back story of Jack with Salazar’s, so that their relationship and the revenge story became personal so to speak.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

[The directors also share with us how Johnny Depp was made to look so young, and very realistically so, in parts of the movie.]

Joachim Ronning: The “youthification” [as] we call it, I’ve been misquoted in so many newspapers saying, “beautification” but it’s “youthification.” And we shot it with Johnny and then spent the year in the computer basically.

Espen Sandberg: Now he can do 21 Jump Street again!

Joachim Ronning: Yeah, exactly. He was thrilled when he saw the result. I mean, he was a little like freaked out by it, but he loved it. And that was a fun moment.

[What was it like working with Johnny Depp? And what was the chemistry like onset?]

Espen Sandberg: Oh, it’s amazing. He’s so funny. And I mean, what you see with Jack Sparrow is, it’s all Johnny. And he’s a genius. I mean for us he’s like up there with Chaplin because his timing is just perfect and he has such a weird imagination. So he comes up with the craziest ideas. And for us, the highlight was always going into his trailer in the morning and going through the scenes and the lines and trying to come up with even more cool stuff to do to make it even more funny. And of course when we started shooting he would do something completely different. And everyone was sort of thrown off but that also makes it come alive and [be] funny.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning [Photo Credit: Louise at]

[Is there a specific reason you wanted to do the next installment in the series or was it just this type of origin story that you were attracted to?]

Joachim Ronning: The origin story in the movie came from us actually. That was something we wanted to explore. As fans of the franchise ourselves we were curious about Jack Sparrow. Disney liked it and Johnny liked it, too. He was a little bit more reserved because he’s very protective of this character of course. And the character is a tricky movie character because he doesn’t really have the character arc. He learns nothing during his journey. [laughs]

In the fifth installment, creating how he got his name and all of that. It’s a little bit risky you know. But when we presented it and then we started shooting he really embraced it and that was cool.

[You said you’re super fans? Was that just the main reason you wanted to do the movie?]

Joachim Ronning: Like Espen was saying, when we [were growing] up, we were very influenced by Hollywood adventure family movies, movies that inspired us to become filmmakers in the first place. And Pirates reminded us of that. It’s very that fun movie that gives you energy. And we both have kids. That was also a big part of why we wanted to do this. It’s something they can relate to and be a part of.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

[Were there any other villains that you explored before settling with Captain Salazar?]

Joachim Ronning: [Salazar] wasn’t [originally] Spanish but then when Javier agreed to come on then he became Spanish. So I think he’s like originally British or something like that. But yeah, so that’s what changed with Javier.

[So, what’s in store for the franchise? Will there be another one?]

Joachim Ronning: I hope so.

Espen Sandberg: We are fans of the franchise so we certainly hope that it continues. We’re just going to enjoy this now and see how it goes. But we’re crossing fingers.

[So besides entertaining, what are you hoping people walk away with from the film?]

Joachim Ronning: It’s something that was very important for us, that we touch upon the emotional core of the story and the kind of family theme that the film has. And that you know a treasure is not always a chest of gold. It could be other things.

Espen Sandberg: Even for a pirate.

Joachim Ronning: Even for a pirate. [It was] something we really fought hard to do because I [was] really inspired by the first movie in the series that had that a big heart. And then of course you have the adventure, the scares and you have the comedy. I hope that the audience will moved by it as well.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

[You mentioned you started working together basically when you were 10 years old. So are your children in the same boat? Do your kids trying to make movies together?]

Joachim Ronning: They’re best friends actually. And they’re doing a lot of creative stuff so we’ll see. We have five kids between us. I have two, Espen has three. They’re 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. So it’s a good bunch to travel with.

[The directors actual met through “break dancing” they joked. But then they really got interested in making movies. We tried to get them to “bust a move” but they weren’t having it.] 😉

Espen Sandberg: And we immediately started making movies instead [of dancing]. And luckily we didn’t pursue the dancing career. We went for the movie making.

Joachim Ronning: I think in that we were in elementary school. My dad bought a video camera so that’s why we kind of drifted into that and became very interested in film.

[Do you have any of those early films?]

Joachim Ronning: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s hilarious.

[Pirates is such an iconic part of Disney and history. What’s it like being part of that?]

Espen Sandberg: For sure. It’s a dream come true. It’s so much bigger than us. It’s amazing to go to China and there’s thousands of screaming fans. It’s such a global phenomenon and it’s because they love the universe. They love the characters. And for us to be a part of that and keep that story going is really cool.

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning On Directing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales #PiratesLifeEvent

Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning [Photo Credit: Louise at]

*Thanks to Louise at for the epic pictures. 😉

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About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. My husband and kids are obsessed with the Pirate movies! Can’t wait to see this one. And I LOVE the fun facts (the directors have known each other that long? How cool is that?)

  2. What a cool interview. It was awesome to learn that they started making movies together at 10. I can’t wait to see this movie.
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  3. Wow what an amazing interview and what cool guys, started directing together at 10? They were obviously made for it.
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  4. That’s so fun! I’m obsessed with the Pirates movies, so I love getting to read interviews like this that give me a behind the scenes look.
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  5. What an amazing interview. I never knew they started so young.
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  6. What a wonderful interview! I really enjoyed this read. I can not wait to go see this movie although truth be told we will probably end up renting at home.
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  7. Claudia Krusch says

    I think it would be so fun to be a director. This was a fantastic interview. I am going this weekend to see it.

  8. There are so many great things being said about this movie. We may have to watch it as soon as we can. Love the interview.
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  9. What a unique perspective into such an awesome movie! I love that these two have been connected for so long.
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  10. Jennifer Van Huss says

    What a great experience!! My family is so excited to see this movie! I love learning about the people who work behind the scenes!

  11. It’s great to know about how much fun they had while shooting the film. I can’t wait to see the movie!
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  12. What a great interview! I think we often forget how much work goes into these movies. The time and effort is just monumental not to mention the imaginative storyline that creates the foundation. I can’t wait to see this, and now I can appreciate all the special effects even more.
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  13. Can I gush about how much I love Johnny Depp? It’s a lot. So the youthification is something I wondered about. The young Jack Sparrow was lovely, but the directors should have hired me to spend a year staring at Johnny Depp on a computer for another year.
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  14. Crazy that the movie was in production for 4 years! I can’t wait to see it soon!

  15. What an awesome interview!! I saw the new Pirates movie the other day and it was AWESOME!!
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  16. Victoria Heckstall says

    Can’t wait to see this movie! I’m a fan of this movie and I’m really happy to see these amazing directors glad to know there too. I’m sure you had a fun experience with them.

  17. Elizabeth O. says

    I definitely admire their teamwork and chemistry. It’s awesome that they enjoy working with each other. This sounds like a movie that they prepared for for a long time and I can’t wait to watch their hard work come to life!

  18. I love their story together. From making movies at 10 to now that is what dreams are made of.

    They clearly put a lot of thought and love into this project. No wonder people adore it so much.
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  19. What an amazing interview and I love seeing it in more detail. I was following along on social media that day so I remember some of this from Twitter.

  20. I enjoyed reading interview like this one. I’ll be so excited if I get to interview the directors of this amazing movie. It must be a fun experience. Good job!

  21. Youthification ha! if only we could do that in our everyday life! just kidding! I would LOVE to meet Johnny Depp, he’s an amazing actor and if he’s truly goofy/funny with a great imagination like they say then we’ll get along just fine! Make that happen for me people! ~wink~
    great interview/review… can’t wait to see the movie with my kids 🙂
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  22. That is so great they were able to take something they did for fun as kids and turned it into a career. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Pirates movie!

  23. It’s so cool to see the thought process and here all those details about what went into the film. I was especially interested in hearing about how they made Johnny look younger so that was cool. I missed some of the movies in the middle of this franchise but I’d like to see how this ends.
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  24. That sounds like it was an awesome interview! I can’t wait to see this movie when it comes to theaters!
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  25. We are big time Pirates fans in this house. I cannot wait to see this movie. I cannot believe it was in production for 4 years. I know I would love to work with Johnny Depp, I have a bit of a crush and he seems like a fun person to work with.

  26. I can’t wait to watch this new installment of Pirates with my children. Sounds like there is so much interesting action in this new story, and it is so great to read about the creators of this new movie, and how they have approached working on it – thank you for this great revelation!

  27. I love hearing about the behind the scenes and how movies are made. My boys are looking forward to seeing the newest Pirates movie!
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  28. This is a great interview! I loved learning more about the directors and the “Youthification” process!
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  29. My Teen Guide says

    Looks like you had a great time. Having to meet such big name personalities must be so surreal. I wish I could have the same opportunity some time too.

  30. The directors did a fantastic job! I’m always so excited when a Pirates Of The Caribbean comes out. I’m looking forward to Dead Men Tell No Tales!
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