Zoe Saldana Says She Had A Horrible Time Making Her Biggest Movie

Zoe Saldana had a horrible experience when filming Pirates of the Caribbean, and it almost made her turn down every franchise role afterward.

By Mark McKee | Published

Franchises are all the rage now in Hollywood; almost every movie that hits theaters has fans asking when the sequel is coming or which universe it fits into; fans even stay after the film until the end of the credits hoping to get a sneak peek at what’s next. Of course, not every movie is a part of a franchise, but thanks to the enormous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seemingly every studio is looking for the next big thing. But long before Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the MCU with his 2008 appearance in Iron Man, fellow Marvel heavy hitter Zoe Saldana was cutting her teeth in Hollywood as part of the biggest franchise of the decade, Pirates of the Caribbean – but apparently, Saldana nearly walked away from the franchise after admitting that the experience was terrible on her.

zoe saldana pirates
Zoe Saldana in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, she revealed that her experience wasn’t a good one, and she almost walked away from franchises altogether. Of course, what fans of the franchise never saw was Zoe Saldana’s struggles on the Pirates of the Caribbean set and that she nearly walked away from doing franchises for good. She explained in the interview that it was her first Hollywood mega-movie, and she felt like she was lost in the trenches of the production most of the time.

Saldana told Entertainment Weekly that there were too many actors, crew, and extras on the Pirates set that it became overwhelming. Coupled with the different shooting locations not being very agreeable resulted in her not having a good experience with it at all. She elected not to return to any further installments of the franchise, keeping her strong character (a woman allowed on the boat, mind you) a sole performance in the first film. 

In 2003, Johnny Depp was a relatively well-known actor, but not because he was anchoring any giant Hollywood productions. Instead, he was primarily known as Tim Burton’s go-to guy for the difficult-to-play parts. Zoe Saldana was an unknown, having never done a big production, and new to something of significant scale, that was until they both ended up on the set of the Disney production inspired by the theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Curse of the Black Pearl.

Both careers, along with Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley, exploded after the film’s success, causing all of them to become household names once and for all. Luckily for all of her fans, Zoe Saldana didn’t let her experience on the Pirates set keep her out of franchises for very long; she would eventually go on to star in three of the biggest franchises in the last two decades with her roles as Uhura in Star Trek, Neytiri in Avatar, and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Part of that later success may be due to Jerry Bruckheimer (producer of Pirates of the Caribbean) seeing her later in her career and apologizing for her experience. Zoe Saldana told EW it meant a lot to her that the Pirates producer would remember her and her experience and take accountability for it. It’s a good thing, too, because none of those three franchises would be the same without her. Who knows, now that she has more experience in the world, maybe a reunion with Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is in order.