This Was The Hardest Part Of Persuading Keith Richards To Be In Pirates Of The Caribbean

Johnny Depp owes a great debt to Keith Richards, the inspiration for his swishy, eccentric pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp cobbled together Sparrow's sexually ambiguous swashbuckler from fictional and historical references, from Pepé Le Pew to B. R. Burg's "Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition." Still, it's Richards who is known as the figurative — and literal — father of Sparrow. The producers had no trouble persuading the Rolling Stones guitarist to join the sequel, "At World's End," as Sparrow's father Captain Teague, but had a devil of a time finding the right moment for him to come aboard.

During production, "Pirates" producer Jerry Bruckheimer had to work around the Stones' busy international tour "A Bigger Bang," he told London Net.

"The hardest part was trying to fit our film schedule into his touring schedule, so we had to find about three or four days when the Rolling Stones weren't touring. But I think he was happy to be part of the film. It's just a small role, but important to the story, and I think he had a ball. He was there with his wife and kids and he clearly didn't want to leave."

A lovely bunch of coconuts

The Stone's tour hit another snag when Richards found himself in a situation the "Pirates" writers could have created for Sparrow himself. During a vacation in Fiji in April 2006, the then 62-year-old rocker fell out of a coconut tree and sustained a head injury. The band resumed their tour that July after Richards underwent brain surgery in New Zealand. Richards pressed on with both the tour and his cameo as Sparrow's father, Captain Teague, that summer. His fellow shipmate Orlando Bloom, an international star in his own right, gushed over the legend (via Associated Press). "I can't wait to see him — well, if he doesn't kill himself falling out of coconut trees," Bloom said. "Very rock and roll."

Richards serves up a brief and delightful cameo in "At World's End." Standing in the shadows wearing a deep crimson coat, he blows smoke off the top of a deadly pistol with the casual breath of a cigarette drag. While the pirates argue over their code, audiences get to relish watching Richards play a beautiful acoustic guitar in the background. The scene is a perfect medley of pirate and rock star, the apotheosis of Depp's own vision for his character:

"When I was thinking about Captain Jack was the idea that pirates were the rock and roll stars of that era, of the 18th century. First and foremost, the myth or the legend would arrive months before they would ever make port, that kind of thing, which is very similar to rock and roll stars, and it was about freedom."

Hail, Richards

"Pirates" is one of Richards' few onscreen credits, and perhaps the only one where he doesn't play himself. He starred in the 1987 documentary, "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll," as a frustrated musical director for Chuck Berry. In a scene from "Hail! Hail!" Richards looks every bit like a modern day pirate. Talking about Berry, he lounges in a loose white, button down with a light blue scarf encircling his neck. A skull ring adorns the middle finger on his right hand and a cigarette sticks up between two spindly digits on his left. The then 44-year-old Richards already possesses a gravelly voice, no doubt shaped by years of smoking those same cigarettes, and his lackadaisical movements are guided by thin, delicate wrists. Like Sparrow, his easy smile tells you that though he may look old for his age, he harbors a youthful zeal under his weathered exterior.

There's one major difference between Sparrow and Richards. Whereas the fictional pirate is so worried about his own mortality that he concocts various ways to swindle Davy Jones or find the fountain of youth, Richards appears to have no anxiety about his end days. When asked about whether he feared dying after his coconut tree accident, Richards brushed off the question. And despite decades of alcohol and hard drugs, the septuagenarian keeps touring. In a testament to his endurance, Richards' potential for more cameos as Captain Teague may have outlived the "Pirates" sequels helmed by Depp.