Zoe Saldana was originally a ballet dancer before her interest in theater drew her into films. She has been part of, perhaps, three of the best action/adventure films of this millennium in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Between reinventing Uhura in Star Trek, portraying Gamora in the MCU, and Avatar (and its upcoming four sequels), Saldana has taken the torch from Sigourney Weaver in becoming science fiction’s action queen. Her dance background makes her extremely gifted with fight choreography and in motion capture, and her acting skills don’t require make-up. She’s held her own with Tom Hanks in The Terminal, Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear, and Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace. I hope the grind of the Ava-sequel shoot doesn’t prevent her wholly from doing other films, because she’s always an outstanding addition to any ensemble she joins.
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Keira Knightley has been acting professionally since she was eight, and at 32, has an impressive resume of quality films under her belt that range from indie dramas to seafaring blockbusters. Knightley has wonderful range as a comedic actress and fits well in period dramas where she’s gotten the most awards attention (The Imitation Game and Pride and Prejudice) and modern dramas (Love Actually and Collateral Beauty). Her most famous role is that of Elizabeth Swann, female protagonist of the first three films in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Where she chooses to take her career at this point is up to her. She’s a proven box office draw with the respect of the critics, and she’s still so young, you get the feeling her best is still yet to come.
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Johnny Depp is probably the greatest actor alive that people are sick to death of. It’s not that Depp still isn’t amazingly talented. He has one of the best cameos in recent history reprising the character that started his career in 21 Jump Street and was promisingly menacing in a small role that heralded his entry into The Wizarding World in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. What people are tired of is the massively eccentric takes on characters like The Mad Hatter, Tonto, Willy Wonka, and even his best character from his best film: Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp definitely needs to be kept away from Tim Burton for the rest of their careers because when they get together all they seem to do is feed the weirdest parts of their collective id. So why was Pirates 5 a financial success if everyone is so sick of him? I think it’s because they can tell he still has the talent that made him one of the most popular stars in the world, and they’re hoping he can find his way out of his Bermuda Triangle of personal eccentricity back to the actor he’s capable of being.
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There was a time, oh so very long ago, when Johnny Depp just made indie movies. His casting in a movie about a ride at Disneyland was odd. This was during barrel scraping days when they were making movies about their rides (Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion ring a bell?). Pirates of the Caribbean was getting rave reviews though. I know the sequels have dulled the magic of the first film, and likely the fifth (which comes six years after the fourth and no one seems to be excited over it) won’t help. However, remember back to 2003 when you first beheld Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: the worst/best pirate to grace the screen. His character’s entrance is rivaled only by Wilder’s Wonka as the best of all-time. One of my favorite shots period is the slow descent of his boat to perfectly time his lurch on to the dock. The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of the best action/adventure films of the 21st Century. Nothing that followed can change that, and that this film inadvertently sent Depp on a career plunging spiral of self-indulgent nonsense, doesn’t take away from this performance and this moment. I could watch it a thousand times. Never fails to make me smile.