More pirates! Naomie Harris, Alex Norton, and Stellan Skarsgard join the cast of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2!

Lots of casting news about the POTC sequels this week! The Hollywood Reporter notes that stunning British actress Naomie Harris, who appeared in 28 DAYS LATER and AFTER THE SUNSET, has been cast as a gypsy queen in both POTC sequels. Also signed for both sequels is Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, who appeared in Jerry Bruckheimer’s KING ARTHUR last summer. Skarsgard will play Bootstrap Bill Turner, the father of Orlando Bloom’s character–but there is no word on how old Bill will be revived from his watery grave. He will, however, figure in both sequels. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reports that Skarsgard starts working on the films in February and won’t be finished until December. “We are going to shoot around the Los Angeles area as well as in the Bahamas and the West Indies,” says Skarsgard. “I’m playing the old pirate ‘Bootstraps’ Turner… it should be fun, I enjoyed the first one.”

Another addition to the cast is 55-year-old British television star Alex Norton, who will play Edinburgh sea captain Sam Bellamy. The role is described as “a high-profile part,” and Norton told the UK press that it was the biggest role of his career: “It’s safe to say this is about as big as it gets. I’ve only just heard that I got the part of Captain Bellamy. I’m really excited.” Norton added that his three sons, Jock, Rory, and Jamie, are huge fans of the original Pirates blockbuster and are thrilled that their pop will be working with Captain Jack Sparrow. “I start filming in Los Angeles next month,” Norton said. “We then head out to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in June and July. “

Actor Kevin McNally will be returning to the POTC franchise in the role of Joshamee Gibbs. But although producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently said he was also negotiating with Geoffrey Rush to return as Barbossa in a third PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie, apparently that deal has not yet been struck. This morning’s Hollywood Reporter mentions that the POTC sequels “reunite the main players in the 2003 blockbuster: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley star, Gore Verbinski directs, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio write and Jerry Bruckheimer produces.” But there is no mention of Geoffrey Rush–yet.

The Zone thanks emma and DeepinDepp for their many POTC updates this week. We appreciate all you do to keep the Zone up-to-date with the latest news!

TV ALERT–Brief Johnny Depp appearance on Monday's OPRAH WINFREY SHOW!

Set your TIVOs and VCRs to tape the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW next Monday! Ms. Winfrey is featuring this year’s Oscar nominees on Monday’s program. The centerpiece of the hour will be a satellite interview with RAY’s Jamie Foxx, but she will show clips from Johnny’s appearance last November. This could be new footage from the after-the-show segment, like the snippet Oprah aired last week, where she asked Johnny which three people he would like to ask over for dinner, and Johnny named Jack Kerouac, John Lennon, and Vincent Van Gogh. Or she might be re-airing Johnny’s comments on FINDING NEVERLAND from the November 2, 2004 show. It’s certainly worth tuning in to find out! The Zone thanks Chicago Jazz, Tigress, and L2 for their posts on the News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp shares the cover of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's new Oscar issue!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY celebrates this week’s Oscar nominations by featuring six nominated stars on their cover, including Johnny; the picture is a smaller version of his most recent EW cover. Inside, EW writers recap the nominees in all the major categories. Reviewing the Best Actor nominees, Chris Nashawaty calls Johnny’s performance as J. M. Barrie “a pleasure to watch. He’s a lost boy blessed with a boundless imagination and the gift of getting us to join whatever whimsical adventure he sets out on [. . .].”

In the Best Picture category, Nashawaty offers a persuasive assessment of FINDING NEVERLAND’s hidden power: “FINDING NEVERLAND isn’t so much about the creation of Peter Pan as it is about the touching relationship between Depp’s and Winslet’s characters,” Nashawaty observes. “Depp’s loony grace and Winslet’s sadness and humanity are what stick with you when the theater’s lights go up. After all, Peter Pan may have taught us how to fly, but FINDING NEVERLAND shows us actors who know how to soar.”

The Zone thanks addicted2depp, who broke the news about the EW cover on the News & Views board, and emma for posting the articles.