Kaya Scoderlario has been redefining our social expectations of female characters for a decade, ever since 2007 when she hit our screens playing the tortured but loveable teenager, Effy in the seminal drama, Skins.
Now, a mother to her little boy with fellow actor Benjamin Walker, who she met on the set of The King’s Daughter in 2014, Kaya is giving an age-old character, the Disney female sidekick in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, a healthy does of kick ass sass. Gone is the damsel in a dress and, in its place, a fully-fledged feminist who doesn’t ‘take that pirate bullsh*t,” as Kaya fondly remarks. Here, the British actress, who isn’t scared to challenge her husband on equal pay, talks Johnny Depp and pirate calamities on set…
“My biggest misconception about filming Pirates was that Johnny was going to be kept apart from everyone, we wouldn’t really see him, he’d be a bit of a diva and you’d only ever get to see him in character. Whereas, really, we got to spend a lot of time together, he was very friendly, jokey and shared a lot about himself with everyone around him. He constantly tried to crack up all the crew, make them laugh and the set had a real family feel to it which surprised me because it was such a huge scale movie.”
“It was like meeting Captain Jack Sparrow at Disneyland on day one! A lot of Johnny’s movies are quite dark and intense and that has always been the image I have of him. I remember the first day I got on set in my dress and the scale was huge, I was like ‘my goodness where am I?’ Then there was Johnny dressed head to toe in costume and I completely lost, it I was like, ‘that’s actually Jack Sparrow!’ I’d already met Johnny and I was kind of start struck to meet Johnny Depp but I was definitely more star struck to meet Jack Sparrow!”
“I didn’t want to just be playing a princess or a damsel in distress and I didn’t want to be playing the girlfriend of a dude that was three times my age! I phoned the director and said, ‘I’m not going to play a woman that I don’t respect.’ That doesn’t mean she has to be perfect and can’t have flaws but there has to be some kind of message to her and there has to be a reason for her being in this story. Disney very honestly told me that they wanted to create a kick ass woman who is very modern for that time, who isn’t buying all the pirate bullsh*t and instead was very strong willed and argumentative. I knew that she had a back story, she wanted to go to university for instance and a lot of times with women in movies you don’t have a back story, you literally turn up and you know who you are and what you’re doing but I liked that there was something I could work with.”
“My lowest moment on set was breaking my shoulder. I get very home sick and a six-month shoot is the longest I’ve ever done and with the time difference, you can’t really spend time with friends and you feel very disconnected to everyone. I had a day where I actually broke my shoulder on set after I slipped off a rope. I fell on to my arm, caught myself with my hand and popped my shoulder out. I didn’t want to take time off work because it would have delayed filming so there was a moment where I had to have my arm strapped to my back and the pain was absolutely excruciating. I just screamed my little heart out between takes.”
“I had a really honest conversation with my husband about equal pay because we met on a movie where he was paid more than me just because of gender. Not enough men are discussing women’s issues in the public eye, either. The fight for equal rights or pay has become this thing where people expect actresses to talk about it. Why they feel that a man is worth more is an important issue to discuss - we are moving in the right direction - but we need to continue to talk about it and continue to label it as an issue.”
‘I don’t know any women who are one-dimensional so why would I play one! I’ve always felt like that I came in to this industry very young, I wasn’t drama school-trained and I came from a very working class background. Because those were the conditions I grew up in and every woman in my life has been inspirational, strong and independent. Now because I am a mother there is an added element to it - especially a mother to a son - because a lot of people say my Pirates character is a great feminist character for young girls but I think she’s great feminist character for young boys too. I can’t wait to take my son to see Wonder Woman - I can’t wait to show him all the female characters can be well-rounded people.”
“Skins was such a special breeding ground for talent because none of us wanted to become famous. We were all just normal kids who had a passion for something – we just loved to act. We never had the opportunity to do it professionally so we were incredibly lucky to have Skins - we were never competitive with each other and we were very supportive of each other. We were there telling stories that we believed in and it was better than playing a 13-year-old girl who was supposed to be perfect because you can’t relate to that? I think that just set us up for a really honest outlook on life and our careers and even now, if one of us gets a job, we’ll text each other saying, “awww that’s amazing!’ That’s exactly why it was so successful, we worked together!”
Disney’s 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge' is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download now.