Pirates of the Caribbean Stunt Actor Explains One Scene Was a "Baptism by Fire"

pirates of the caribbean wheel fight dead man's chest
(Photo: Disney)

Throughout the 2000s, the Pirates of the Caribbean films dominated the summer blockbuster season, thanks in large part to its colorful characters and spectacular stunts, with stuntman Zach Hudson revealing that the "Wheel Fight" from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was one of the most challenging sequences to shoot, due to how late into production the concept was conceived. Despite the small window of preparation time, the sequence ended up becoming one of the most memorable in the whole franchise, serving as a testament to not only Hudson's work on the film, but also director Gore Verbinski's ambition with the project.

"The wheel fight, I had not rehearsed or had time on it. I literally had about a week to prep for it," Hudson recalled to Metro.co.uk. "Gore Verbinski was the director and it was very much a baptism by fire! I had to do all the wire work involved on top of the wheel and the whole fight actually won the Taurus award for best fight."

The debut film in the series largely focused on human characters, but also embraced supernatural themes. In Dead Man's Chest, the supernatural components were taken even further, which included the addition of the mythical Kraken. That battle would also go on to be immensely memorable, not only for audiences but also for Hudson.

"Later we did the whole Kraken attack sequence, which I’ll probably remember on my deathbed!" the performer confessed. "I’m on top of the sail mast about 150-feet up in the air as it’s breaking…I jump with a single safety wire into the sail across the way. It ended up being about a 300, 400-foot drop and jump across. It was the first shot that day, we were docked in this bay…it was one of those very surreal moments. I got to do that iconic slide down the sail with the knife…my 10-year-old self was overjoyed!"

While the original trilogy of films was a massive success, 2011's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and 2017's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales didn't quite capture the attention of audiences or critics as successfully as their predecessors. Despite those diminishing returns, Disney is still interested in pursuing the franchise, though the status of the sixth film is still somewhat unknown, as some reports note that it could serve as a reboot of the concept while others claim that Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow could still make a return.

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