Mackenzie Crook (born Paul James Crook; September 29, 1971) is an English actor, writer, director and stand-up comedian. Crook maintained an acting career spanning television, stage and film. One of his best known roles was Orell in Game of Thrones and Gareth Keenan in the multi-award-winning BBC show The Office, the highest-rated and fastest-selling comedy in Britain.
Mackenzie Crook portrayed Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. He reprised the role on several occasions, whether it's lending his voice to video games or appearing in advertisements, most notably VISA and M&M's.
Born in Kent, England, Mackenzie Crook started out as a stand-up comedian on the British club and theater circuit. Before his memorable role as the wooden-eyed Ragetti in Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, Crook was probably best known as Gareth Kenan in the multi-award-winning BBC show The Office, the highest-rated and fastest-selling comedy in Great Britain. Crook had starred in many hit comedies and was nominated for a prestigious British Comedy Award in 2001. Crook's other feature films have included Still Crazy, The Gathering, Finding Neverland (along with Johnny Depp and Angus Barnett), Sex Lives of the Potato Men, Churchill: The Hollywood Years, Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, Michael Radford's The Merchant of Venice and Land of the Blind. He also appeared in HBO's highly acclaimed The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, which starred Pirates of the Caribbean's Geoffrey Rush in the title role. During the hiatus between the completion of Pirates sequels, Dead Man's Chest and the resumption of filming on At World's End, Crook starred on the London stage in the drama The Exonerated, directed by Bob Balaban.
Many of those who have interviewed him have described him as a shy and quietly-spoken man, being also fairly nervous.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Mackenzie Crook was selected to portray the wooden-eyed pirate Ragetti opposite Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa, Orlando Bloom's Will Turner, and Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann in the 2003 worldwide blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Because of the film being hugely successful, Crook reprised his popular starring role as Ragetti in two back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, as well as voicing the character in the At World's End video game and appearing a series of advertisements.
The Curse of the Black Pearl
For the first film, Mackenzie Crook was cast into the role of Ragetti, who then was a member of Barbossa's cursed crew. Crook would work alongside Lee Arenberg, who portrayed Pintel. Director Gore Verbinski stated, "Pintel and Ragetti are Laurel and Hardy on acid; they're dangerous villains, but you like them because they're funny." In dressing up as Ragetti, Crook was given a "wooden eye" and he's skinny with bags under his eyes.
Initially viewed as a risky venture - as it was based on a Disney ride, and the first movie about pirates in decades - The Curse of the Black Pearl turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters in years. Mackenzie Crook also appeared in Lee Arenberg's video journal, titled "Diary of a Pirate", among many other members of the cast and crew. He appeared during chronicles of a day of filming on the Black Pearl, which was built on a barge.
Dead Man's Chest and At World's End
In 2005, because of the unexpected success of The Curse of the Black Pearl, production began on two back-to-back sequels: Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook returned as eternally bickering and philosophizing piratical best mates Pintel and Ragetti—who endeared themselves to audiences as a sublime comedic pairing in The Curse of the Black Pearl. "Pintel and Ragetti are marvelous characters to begin with," says producer Jerry Bruckheimer, "but Lee and Mackenzie did a brilliant job of taking something that was on the page and amping it to the nth degree." True to their roles, the U.S.-born Arenberg and British native Crook genuinely hit it off during the filming of the first Pirates film, inseparable off as well as on screen. Crook, "Pintel and Ragetti are pirates who, like most pirates, can swing either good or bad depending on who's paying the best fee. They're the classic double act—one thinks he's intelligent, and the other one appears stupid—plus Pintel and Ragetti had the foresight to stick their hands up and surrender at the end of the first movie." Jokes Crook, "We were smiling then because we knew we were making the sequel, and all the other guys fooling around on deck didn't!"
Like the majority of the cast and crew, Arenberg spent nearly eight tough but rewarding weeks of filming on the island of Dominica. And Ragetti's wooden eye has almost become a character unto itself. Actor Mackenzie Crook has to wear not one but two contact lenses for this effect, sandwiched one on top of the other. "It's uncomfortable," he admits, "but not painful. And it helps the character, because without it, I'm just any other pirate." Coincidentally, in real life, Crook has never worn contacts, "so this is into the deep end," he laughs.
For such grizzled Pirates veterans as Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, who play the tagteam duo of Pintel and Ragetti, At World's End presented another opportunity to expand their characters. "In the first film we were pretty vicious," says Crook. "We shot the servant in the governor's house straight away, really nasty, cutthroat villains. In the second film, we lightened up a bit and became a real double-act. But I think that Gore, Ted and Terry were keen to keep a vicious streak in us, because we're pirates when you come down to it, so we can't always just be goofing around. So I have a good kill count in 'At World's End.' I think I dispatch three or four souls."
Dead Man's Chest, which scored even higher numbers at the box office, though critics gave the film a solid drubbing for its convoluted plot. At World's End was originally the proposed end of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, though most in the industry felt that such a money-making engine could not be shut down so easily.
After the Pirates trilogy
After making At World's End, despite that Pintel and Ragetti were considered for the story, Mackenzie Crook did not return for the fourth film On Stranger Tides. In 2014, there had been several interviews with Crook, who made statements about returning as Ragetti. Crook also revealed that the film-makers had been in touch with his agent to discuss his availability, having previous called about appearing in On Stranger Tides, but it didn't happen as it was decided the film didn't need those characters, and made the assumption that the characters are being written back in the fifth film.
Other Pirates work
Because of his role was popular, Mackenzie Crook reprised the role of Ragetti for several aspects of the Pirates franchise. He voiced the character in the At World's End video game, appeared in a series of advertisements, most notably VISA and M&M's. Mackenzie Crook also lent his voice in the game Disney INFINITY. He also wrote The Secret Diary of Ragetti - Pirate Apprentice.
- He had a recurring role in the third season of the 2011-2019 TV series Game of Thrones, which also featured Jonathan Pryce, Ian McShane, Deobia Oparei and Anton Lesser.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - Ragetti
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Ragetti
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Ragetti
Notes and references
- Pirates of the Carribean presskit, accessed Dec 9, 2006
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - "Diary of a Pirate"
- POTC2 Presskit
- POTC3 Presskit
- BBC Radio 5 live - In Short, Crook 'available' for fifth Pirates of the Caribbean
- Out of the Office: Mackenzie Crook on David Brent movie - 'Nobody's been in touch' | Film | The Guardian
- Mackenzie Crook interview: Game Of Thrones, The Detectorists, Pirates 5 | Den of Geek