Total Film is refuelling in the catering tent at Pinewood. It’s October 2010 and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is approaching land (close to wrapping).
We’re mid-way through a tour of the gigantic 007 sound-stage, currently hosting the key Pirates set-ups: full-size galleon, oaken throne-room, barrel-lined grog joint.
The mood is triumphant, if a little guarded. Schedules are unbending, with journalists strictly chaperoned. Break-taking crew members shift laughter to whisper as we enter earshot.
We’re film journalists, after all. And film journalists haven’t been kind to the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise.
It’s the movie world’s Da Vinci Code – loved by millions yet sneered at by critics who see it as little more than an overstretched unit-shifter risen way above its station (a 38-year-old theme-park ride).
But in an era where guaranteed star bankability is in decline, Pirates has stayed afloat because of an audacious central turn from an actor who seems to be more at play than work.
Will we get to chat to Mr Depp? It’s unlikely, says the unit publicist. Johnny’s call sheet doesn’t leave room for interviews. But now, there he is, in full Captain Jack costume. Going for the custard…