Rock legend Keith Richards says he never imagined he'd be appearing in a Disney film franchise — surprise! — but he finds the experience of being in another "Pirates of the Caribbean" film "all good fun."

Share story

LOS ANGELES — After decades of dark excess, Keith Richards seems wildly out of place at family-friendly Disneyland. But on a recent Saturday, there he was, a rock ‘n’ roll exile on Main Street USA, attending the massive movie premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth installment in the blockbuster franchise in which he briefly appears as Capt. William Teague, father to Johnny Depp’s scoundrel son Jack Sparrow.

“No one is more surprised by all of it than me,” the Rolling Stones guitarist said with a wink. “I never expected to work for the Disney organization for a while. I’m still shocked but, hey, it’s all good fun.”

Richards first got on board for a cameo in the 2007 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” at the behest of Depp, whom the musician describes as a “blood on blood” friend, and it’s quite apparent they have a jolly good time playing pirate together. “If Johnny says he wants to do something, well, it doesn’t take much to get me to show up,” Richards said.

In this new movie, Richards is on screen maybe two minutes, but it’s enough time to kill a man, pass on some key knowledge to his offspring and deliver a line that gets one of the biggest laughs in the movie.

“Well, basically, I tell Johnny what to do at one point, and then I get out of there,” Richards said.

“This is so different than what I usually do, and I love to see how it’s made, you know,” he said. “And I don’t have to really do a lot of work. We did it in London at Pinewood Studios, and it was the usual thing. You get there early, and you wait around a long time. The makeup takes a long time; it’s an incredible amount of makeup, and sometimes you’re sitting there next to a guy who’s getting scales put on. … It’s a lot of preparation to do something that will be short, but it’s amazing stuff, as you expect.”

“Life,” the memoir out in paperback this month, only enhanced Richards’ real-world desperado aura and rock stature. Publisher Little, Brown and Co. paid $7 million for the 500-page-plus book, which was written with veteran journalist James Fox, an investment that seems to have paid off.

Richards was in a good mood at the “Pirates” premiere, eager to meet the screaming masses. That the youngest fans knew more about the Black Eyed Peas than they did “Black and Blue” didn’t bother Richards one bit. It actually provided a special sort of satisfaction.

“Not everybody that likes pirate movies necessarily likes rock ‘n’ roll, right, and so this all gives me another chance to communicate with different people,” Richards said. “Now everywhere there’s all these young people who know me as Capt. Teague, not as Keith Richards. ‘That’s Jack Sparrow’s dad!’ And that’s cool, man.”