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The Actors: A seagoing Cruz's adventurous turn

Penélope Cruz plays a take-charge swashbuckler in the latest installment of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise.

May 01, 2011|By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
  • Penelope Cruz plays Angelica in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."
Penelope Cruz plays Angelica in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger… (Peter Mountain / Disney…)

Penélope Cruz has won an Oscar, worked with such famed directors as Woody Allen and Pedro Almodóvar and counts Tom Cruise and Daniel Day-Lewis among her famed costars.

But in a roughly 15-year career spanning two continents, the Spanish actress had never tackled a particular acting challenge: swashbuckling on a pirate ship.

That changes on May 20 when Cruz appears as the pirate Blackbeard's daughter, Angelica, a seafaring foil for Johnny Depp's Capt. Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

Cruz acknowledged that joining a large ensemble cast for a summer blockbuster gave her some pause. "It's the biggest production you can be a part of, and that's an interesting experience for an actor," she said by phone. "But it also has a story that works and characters that are developed, and that's what got me interested in it."

Cruz takes over as the lone female lead in an otherwise raging sea of masculinity. But unlike Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann, who always seemed at the mercy of Capt. Jack's wiles in the previous three films in the franchise, Cruz's Angelica is more of an equal to the iconic pirate.

"My character is very bossy; she's the one giving the orders," the actress said. "She's in charge of men and can tell them what to do."

As a result, Cruz says that, despite the pomp and circumstance of a special-effects film, her part in the Rob Marshall movie demanded more than just green-screen choreography. "Angelica's full of contradictions," Cruz said. "She's a pirate at heart — she can be tricky and manipulative. But she also has another side of her that's fair and just wants to do good."

Ever since the first trailer for the fourth "Pirates" movie appeared online, fans have speculated about the tone, particularly given that Marshall, primarily known as a musical director, was taking over from signature director Gore Verbinski. Cruz said that fans will be satisfied with the life that the filmmaker has breathed into the franchise.

"Rob has brought something very fresh," she said. "I really liked the other three, but I think this one has even more humor. People from so many different ages will be able to connect with it."

steve.zeitchik@latimes.com

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