Rob Marshall (born October 17, 1960) is an American theater director, film director and choreographer. He was a Tony Award nominee, Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe nominee and Emmy winner whose most noted works include the 2002 film Chicago and the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret. Marshall was a distinguished director whose first three films have been honored with a total of 23 Academy Award nominations. His previous directorial efforts include the Academy Award-winning films Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Nine. Rob Marshall worked with Walt Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films in directing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Early life and career
Rob Marshall was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His sister is choreographer and director, Kathleen Marshall. He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1978 and was inducted into their alumni hall of fame in 2012. He attended Carnegie Mellon University and worked in the Pittsburgh theatre scene, performing with such companies as Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.
A six-time Tony Award nominee and George Abbott Award winner, Marshall co-directed and choreographed the worldwide award-winning production of Cabaret and directed and choreographed the Broadway revival of Little Me, starring Martin Short. He made his Broadway choreographic debut with Kiss of the Spider Woman, directed by Harold Prince, which also played at London's West End and Vienna. He followed that with productions of She Loves Me in Broadway and London; Damn Yankees on Broadway, the National Tour and London; Blake Edwards' Victor/Victoria on Broadway; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on Broadway; Company on Broadway; The Petrified Forest at the New York Public Theatre, and Promises, Promises for City Center Encores. Additional choreography credits include the feature film The Cradle Will Rock, the Disney/ABC movie musical Cinderella (Emmy nomination), the CBS movie musical Mrs. Santa Clause (Emmy nomination) and The Kennedy Center Honors (Kander & Ebb and Chita Rivera tributes).
Becoming a distinguished director, Rob Marshall debuted in the film industry with directing and choreographing Disney/ABC's critically acclaimed TV adaptation of the famous musical Annie, which received 12 Emmy nominations and won the prestigious Peabody Award. For his work, Marshall received an Emmy for Choreography and an American Choreography Award. After that he went on to direct the much anticipated adaptation of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago in 2002 for which he received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Director. For his work on Chicago, winner of six Oscars, including Best Picture, Marshall received the Directors Guild Award, an Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe Award nomination, a BAFTA nomination, The National Board of Review Award and the New York Film Critics Online Award, both for best directorial debut, as well as the American Choreography Award. Memoirs of a Geisha was the winner of three Oscars, three BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe. Marshall executive-produced, directed and choreographed the NBC television event Tony Bennett: An American Classic. He won his second Directors Guild Award for this production and three Emmy Awards for Direction, Choreography and Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
In 2009, Rob Marshall directed Nine, an adaptation of the hit Broadway production with the same name starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench and Penélope Cruz. Marshall would reunite with Cruz, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Nine, in the production of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
Pirates of the Caribbean
After Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was released, Gore Verbinski, the director of the first three Pirates films, was unavailable to direct due to his commitments with other project (particularly Rango. Months after his departure, Rob Marshall was chosen to replace him and direct Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer suggested Rob Marshall, as he considered him to be a "premiere filmmaker", stating that "Every film [Marshall] made I thought was unique and different."
On Stranger Tides
- "[The shoot] was 108 days. I've never shot more than eighty days, so that last month or so is really hard because you're just pushing, pushing, pushing, and it's not like there's a little small scene in this film. There's always something, some action, something happening. Johnny understood that he needed to be a leader, and he really brought such joy to the work. I felt like if I remember one thing, it's that sense of joy, that sense of adventure and sense of fun that I had with Johnny leading us."
- ―Rob Marshall
When it came to finding a director for On Stranger Tides, both Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp found themselves in complete agreement with whom that should be: Rob Marshall. His background in musical theater, film, and choreography were cited as benefits for him directing a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, as somebody had to be able to stage huge action and understands movement. Johnny Depp had a very short list of directors with whom he was willing to work on the fourth Pirates film.
- "Certain names were mentioned," said Depp, "and when Rob's name came up I thought, 'That's got to be it. Let's just hope he's a nice guy.' I've seen all of his films and he's got a great sensibility. He's got a great and unique approach to characters; his aesthetic sense is magnificent and his timing is perfect. So we sat down and talked, and from the first second I knew he was the guy. I just knew it. I don't think there's anyone better who could have come in and followed Gore. Rob's approach was very respectful of what Gore built in the first three films but at the same time he has his own signature. He gave it a very new angle; he brought a brand-new pair of eyes and a fresh look."
Rob Marshall accepted the job, because of the "whole new story line and set of characters. It felt new, and that was important to me." Marshall said the film provided him a long-awaited opportunity to work with Depp, and that his directing was helped by past experience as a choreographer – "the action sequences felt like big production numbers." Afterwards, Rob Marshall and executive producer John DeLuca met screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and did alterations of their own, including building the female lead. Marshall said that Penélope Cruz was the only actress considered for the role of Angelica, as she fit the description as "an actress who could not only go toe to toe with Johnny and match him, but also needed to be all the things that Jack Sparrow is in a way. She needed to be funny and clever and smart and crafty and beautiful", and invited her for the role as they wrapped the production of Nine.
On Stranger Tides would also be Rob Marshall's fifth collaboration with John Myhre, who became the film's production designer. Marshall visited the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland for inspiration, eventually paying homage with a skeleton holding a magnifying glass in Ponce de Leon's ship. An appearance of "Old Bill", the pirate who tries to share his rum with a cat, was also filmed but was deleted from the final cut. On filming "so many jungle sequences" in Hawaii, Myhre stated, "Rob Marshall put it nicely when he said that our journey through the jungle in the movie should be like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride...that every time you go around the bend, you have a new tableau."
As a grand introduction to making a Pirates movie, Rob Marshall was pulled up on a Jet Ski right up onto the beach for his first day of filming. Director Rob Marshall summed up the experience of filming On Stranger Tides, "It was a grand adventure on-screen and off. Each moment as we were making this film, whether it was in Hawaii or London or wherever we were, I believe everyone felt part of this unique experience."
A Fifth Pirates
After On Stranger Tides made over $1 billion worldwide, a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film was in the works. Director Rob Marshall had signed a two-year deal with Disney and was kept up-to-date on the development of the fifth Pirates film, while not officially signed up for the project. Several months after it was reported that rewrites were underway, Rob Marshall was asked on the status of a fifth film. Marshall stated:
- "Terry [Rossio] is writing it and he's working incredibly hard and he did a draft and rethought it all and started working on it again. You want to make sure you are asking the audience to come back to see an exciting adventure and it has to reach that caliber, and if not there's no reason to do it. I know Johnny feels the same way: He needs to see a script, but he would be happy — if it's the right script — to put that hat and sword back on."
It was since then that Rob Marshall was believed to be the director of the fifth film. However, as of 2012, Marshall had commitments and was developing two projects reportedly starring Johnny Depp: Into the Woods and The Thin Man. Therefore, as Pirates was a priority, a new director had to be chosen. And so, on May 2013, Marshall was replaced by the directing duo Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who were brought to direct the film.
Notes and references
- Rob Marshall circles 'Pirates' | Variety
- Producer Jerry Bruckheimer On Set Interview PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4: ON STRANGER TIDES; Updates on LONE RANGER and More
- POTC4 Presskit
- Cannes Q&A: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' Director Rob Marshall
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Audio commentary with Director Rob Marshall and Executive Producer John DeLuca
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Deleted/Extended Scenes
- 'Pirates of the Caribbean 5' Is Being Rewritten; Rob Marshall May Direct
- BREAKING NEWS: Rob Marshall Set to Develop Into the Woods << Disney D23
- Broadway World.com - Rob Marshall to Direct INTO THE WOODS Film for Disney!