Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean is a swash-buckling adventure story set in an era when villainous pirates scavenged the seas. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) teams up with the infamous pirate, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), and together, they must battle pirates, led by the cursed Captain Barbossa, in order to save the love of Will's life and recover the lost treasure.

  • Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley
  • Director(s): Gore Verbinski
  • Producer(s): Touchstone Pictures
  • Screenwriter(s): Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
  • Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures
  • Animal Coordinator: Boone's Animals for Hollywood
  • Release Date: Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Featured Animal Action

Two of the main characters carry animals on their shoulders throughout film. Cotton has a bird on his shoulder who speaks for him since he is mute and Capt. Barbossa lets a small Capuchin monkey ride on his shoulder. These animals sometimes have a bumpy ride as battle ensues aboard the Black Pearl pirate ship. There are also goats, chickens, horses, pigs, crabs, a donkey and a dog. The action is mild although sometimes it takes place within a battle.

Animal Extras

Local handlers at the Caribbean filming location supplied all the horses, goats and chickens and the animals went back home with the people that supplied them. All of the animals were in healthy condition and checked out by a veterinarian before filming began. This action required the animals to wander around in the background of some scenes and be held and led by various characters in the film. These animals were not trained for films, but were certainly able to achieve the minimal, mild action.


A horse drawn carriage leaves the house with Elizabeth and her father as passengers. Trainers attached the horses to the carriages and doubled as actors to drive the carriages. At the Commanders palace, a procession is in progress and we see some soldiers seated upon horses standing off to the side of the marching soldiers. Trainers instructed actors on how to mount the horses and then helped to place each horse and rider on their marks. In a few battle sequences there are also some horses and riders. The guns were loaded with ¼ loads to avoid spooking the horses. The smoke was non-toxic and used sparingly by production. As soon as the scenes were filmed, the animals were taken off the set and out into fresh air.


As sailors load supplies from one boat to another they lift a goat as one of the pieces of cargo. Actors were shown how to handle the animal before hand and all boats were secured with rope to nearby piers. In another scene a goat is standing in a boat that is tied up by the shore. A trainer placed the goat in the boat and tied the end of its rope to the boat. The boat was tied to a pier and the trainer stood just off camera to remove the goat immediately when the scene was over.

As a fight rages in the streets, a man and his goats walk through the action. Some of the brawlers fight with fists, some use guns. This scene was well rehearsed and choreographed before filming began. The actors were aware of the animals on the set and the actor guiding the animals was also aware of of the action. He and the animals walked through the set to a waiting trainer who retrieved the goats from the actor.


As the soldiers run through a courtyard searching for Jack Sparrow, they run past some chickens that are wandering around. Trainers scattered chicken feed on a certain area of the ground and then placed the chickens on the ground. When the director called "action" the actors were very careful where they stepped as they ran past the hungry chickens.

Rosie the Donkey

Although it appears as if a donkey is turning the wheel in a blacksmith shop, two trainers put the donkey in place while a trainer off camera really did all the work. The ground was covered with dirt to give the donkey, Rosie, traction as she walked. So while Jack and Will lunge around in a fierce sword fight, the unphased Rosie continues to turn the wheel. The actors were very careful to keep to their marks, away from the donkey. Later, Will jumps down in front of the donkey and stops it in its turn. The actor was very aware of where the animal was before he made his jump and had the action well rehearsed. A trainer got the donkey going and it went 3/4 of the way around the wheel when it anticipated the actors' jump and stopped.

In one part of this fight sequence, Jack picks up a hot poker and it appears as if he pokes the donkey to get it to move. Rosie started off with her head down and the actor stood next to the donkey with a hot poker, but was careful not to get too close to the animal with it. A crewmember sprayed the poker with vegetable oil right before filming began so that the poker would smoke. Another crewmember stood near the donkeys' rear end and blew off a puff of smoke as the actor neared with the poker. A trainer standing off camera, cued the donkey to move quickly. To get Rosie to look startled, one trainer held the animal while another shook a jar of pennies. Each piece of action was filmed separately and seamlessly combined during post production.


Three large pigs are asleep in the barn and a man is lying on one of them also asleep. Jack and Will enter and Jack throws a bucket of water on the man to wake him up. The man is not the only one to wake up. The pigs shake their heads as some of the water squirts onto them. But it didn't seem to bother them too much as they remained laying down and even drifting back off to sleep as this scene finished filming. Trainers made a bed out of mud and hay for the pigs to lie in. The pigs were brought to the set right before filming began. They laid down in the prepared bed without even being asked and when they were nice and comfy, the director called the actor in to lie down beside them. When the other two actors enter they toss some warm water from a bucket onto the actor, trying not to hit the pigs. Although the pigs do shake off a little water that might have sprayed on them, you can tell that they hardly noticed.


As the boat that Will is traveling in begins to enter a cave he sees a skeleton with a sword sticking out of it and some crabs crawling on it. A fish biologist accompanied the crabs to the set. He released 6 Nigerian Moon Crabs on the sand and the fake skeleton and stood just off camera. Once inside the cave, approaching the treasure, there are some crabs crawling nearby. The same six crabs were placed on the sand and began to crawl as the biologist once again stood off camera. They were retrieved when the scene was over and brought back home.


If you have ever been on the ride at Disneyland for which the film is named, surely you will remember the dog sitting outside the jail cell with the key ring in its mouth. The men inside the cell are trying to coax the dog to come closer so they might get the keys away from it. That is what you see on screen. Later, we see Jack Sparrow trying to coax the dog to come closer by sticking a bone out of his jail cell. The dog approaches his cell but then continues to run right by him. A Terrier Mix dog named, Twister, played this part. A trainer put the dog on its mark and cued it to stay and then to finally run to another trainer waiting off camera with a treat.


Will looks out of the window of his jail cell and sees a cat running down the alley. A trainer placed the cat on its mark and released it. The cat ran right to another trainer waiting off camera with a treat.

Captain Barbossa's Monkey

Two Capuchin monkeys alternated in the part of Captain Barbossa's pet who rode upon his shoulder throughout much of the film. Tara is a 10-year-old female monkey and Levi is an 8-year-old male. The costumes that the monkeys wore throughout the film were custom made for a comfortable fit. The swing that the monkey sits on and jumps from in some scenes was also custom made by the trainer. Both monkeys were used to being on the swing a well as jumping off of it, so all the trainer had to do was verbally cue them to achieve any action that involved the swing. The medallion was a lightweight prop that the monkey carried in some scenes. In fact, in one scene the monkey is able to crawl across a rope on the ship while holding the medallion. One trainer placed the monkey on the rope with the medallion and verbally cued it to crawl to another waiting trainer. To get the monkey to walk in various directions, a trainer stood off camera and used a laser pointer to help guide the animal.

After Capt. Barbossa and his pirates kidnap Elizabeth, they take her in a longboat to the treasure cave. One trainer hid in the boat along with the monkey and the actors and safety divers waited in the water. The aerial shot and the wide shot of this sequence was filmed with stunt people and a fake monkey. In the scene where the monkey is seen standing on top of the treasure chest pointing, a trainer placed the monkey on the treasure chest and stood off camera and verbally cued the animal to point. This was filmed in front of a green screen and edited into the film in post production.

As the battle ensues aboard the Black Pearl, the monkey is perched upon the captain's shoulder as he walks around. Men are fighting with fists, swords and guns amidst blasts and smoke all over the ship. A fake monkey was made by Animal Makers and was substituted for the real monkey during these scenes. At one point the mast of the ship falls over and Capt. Barbossa is standing nearby with the monkey on his shoulder. This sequence was filmed in front of a green screen so the monkey wouldn't be frightened. Trainers stood on either side of the mast and controlled its fall. This was inserted into the film in post production creating a realistic sequence.

The monkey jumps down off the captain's shoulder, runs off and walks across a mast. Will watches the monkey and it bares its teeth at him. He begins to follow it. A trainer stood off camera and used a combination of verbal cues and hand signals to get the monkey to achieve this action. This whole sequence was shot in a series of several different cuts that were edited together in postproduction.

Jack sees the monkey with the medallion and begins to follow it as they both go across the mast of one ship to the other ship. A trainer released the monkey to give it a head start before the actor began to follow. The monkey ran to another trainer who was waiting with a treat and a hug. There were safety divers in the water below. The mast was actually a log which was secured in place by crew members before filming began.

After the credits begin to roll, there is a brief scene where the monkey is shown swimming in the water and up to the treasure chest. The water was very shallow and a special wooden platform was built and placed under the water. This helped to guide the monkey in the direction the director wanted it to walk. It then turns into the monkey creature with the aid of computer graphics. The monkey was cued by the trainer to crawl on the under water platform to the treasure chest where another trainer was waiting nearby. This made it appear as if the monkey was swimming, but it was really crawling across the water, again with the help of some movie magic.

Cotton's Parrot

Three Blue and Gold Macaws were used for the part of Cotton's bird. Salsa and Chip had their wings clipped and were used to riding on the actor's shoulder. Ranger was the bird that got to spread its wings and take flight. It was very easy to get the birds to ride on the actor's shoulder. Depending on the scene, sometimes the leg of the bird was tied to the actors costume with a light monofilament tether for safety reasons. Trainers were always nearby. The actor was introduced to all three birds ahead of time and spent many hours rehearsing with each of them so everyone would be at ease during filming. The bird rides on the shoulder of the actor throughout the film. Sometimes a trainer would place the bird on the actor's shoulder, stand off camera and the bird just naturally stayed on the shoulder. A fake shoulder was made and covered with a green cloth. The bird was placed on this and a trainer stood off camera holding up toys to get the bird to look in various directions. Later in post production, this was edited into some of the battle scenes so the real bird did not need to be used. It also gave the SFX team a chance to use the computer to make it appear as if the birds' mouths were moving as they spoke. Of course we all know that the voice and the movement were accomplished by movie magic!

Cotton is shown sword fighting with the bird on his arm in one scene. A stunt double was used for the actor, but the bird was real. The stuntman had the bird ride on his arm instead of his shoulder. A trainer put the bird on the actor's arm and stood off camera. All of the fight sequences were choreographed so that the actors were always aware of their spaces and any animals.

In another scene, Cotton goes to the side of the ship and throws Jack a rope to come aboard. The bird is on the actor's shoulder and is on the tie down on his shoulder. The trainer stood off camera and safety divers were in the water below just in case.

Towards the end of the film when Jack is about to be hanged, Cotton's bird flies onto a cannon and then to the flagpole where it takes a dump on the head of a soldier standing nearby. The flagpole was really a custom built stand on which the bird was used to landing. One trainer held the bird on her arm while another one stood on a ladder near the flagpole and whistled to the bird cuing it to fly to the pole and waiting trainer. The droppings were fake.

Fish & Sharks & Monkey Creature

The fish, the sharks, and the monkey creature are all computer generated.