An interview with…Kevin McNally

While he is best known as Joshamee Gibbs, the sidekick to Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Kevin McNally is also an accomplished theatre and radio actor.

Born and raised in Bristol, Kevin’s first encounter with acting came at the age of 16 when he obtained a job at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Letting his talent flourish and appearing in many plays, Kevin was soon awarded a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Over the years he has starred in numerous plays, treading the boards with the likes of Jude Law, Maggie Smith and Alan Bennett.

Kevin has starred in many television shows including Life on Mars, Bottom, and Midsummer Murders. He has also had roles in films including The Spy Who Loved Me, Johnny English and Spice World.

Despite his many roles, he gained worldwide fame as pirate sidekick, Joshamee Gibbs in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Kevin was happy to briefly answer some of my questions:

How did you originally get into acting?

Well I started very young at a local repertory theatre which I joined after a youth theatre in Birmingham at 16 and then went to drama school and was out working professionally again by the time I was 19.

How did you end up working on Pirates of the Caribbean

I went to a casting director’s office in May of 2002 to go on tape for the movie. British actors do this all the time and you never expect to hear another word. Also ‘A Pirate film?’ I didn’t even expect it to get released.

How would you describe your character, Joshamee Gibbs?


As a kid I always wanted to be a pirate, but what was it like actually playing one?

Just the same as playing one as a kid but with much MUCH better toys!

Would you consider reprising your role for any future Pirates of the Caribbean films?

I have just played Joshamee again in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to be released in May and a fifth instalment is planned for next year.

As well as TV and film you have also done theatre. How do the two differ and which do you prefer?

In the theatre you are much more in control of your performance. So much can be changed in film by the editing process. I like to do both. I think one feeds the other. I often think you learn about yourself in theatre but in film you show what you know.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Pirates, certainly. The Donmar West End season 2008 and 2009 performing Ivanov and Hamlet, then taking the latter to Broadway. And a series on TV in the nineties called Underworld.

Are there any parts of your career that you regret?

There is no place for regret.

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be and why?

A cosmologist. It is my abiding passion outside acting! That…or a painter.

What does the future have in store for you?

I hope the pilot I have just done for US TV will be picked up. It is called Poe and I would love to do that for a few years. Otherwise, it’s back to the theatre for me.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into acting?

Oh yes. One: train, two: work hard and three: always prepare.

Thanks very much.

Thank you.

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