From driver to hollywood screens
Local Vibes
May 13, 2005
From driver to hollywood screens

by Sheron Garraway

What started as just a job as a driver for the cast and production crew in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” turned into a role in the production as a “rower” on the Governor’s boat. This is not something that happens every day but such was the lot of local singer Winston “Papa Istan” Lewis.{{more}}

Papa Istan said he was just doing his daily job as a tour guide when one of the production members responsible for boats approached him and suggested that he try out for the part as an oarsman.

He explained: “They needed some people to play the role and the guy told me that I looked strong. Like I could fit the part, so I filled out the application, got my picture and tried out for it.

“It wasn’t like you would just be selected because you knew someone on the movie set. You had to rehearse for the part; they are really serious people.

“After I was selected, I had to get up at 3, 4 or 6 in the morning depending on what time they were filming, head down to the cruise ship dock and then we were taken to Walliabou.”

Papa Istan said from there, it was ensured the crew got something to eat first before they were given numbers to get their costumes. They were then taken for make up.

“The ladies put the make up on you and did stuff to you that I liked (smiles). I even got a little black wig. I think it fit very nice, you know what I mean?”

He explained how he was told to sit and wait for his “role call” to be in the movie. When that came through, he was rowing away on the sea and doing his part. “It wasn’t like a big part. I was on the only black guy in that area and I was rowing with the other guys.

“We were rowers for the East Indies Trading Company working for the Governor. We were the ones who stormed the beach before everyone to safeguard the crew on our boat. So I wasn’t a pirate, I was more of a sailor; a sailor for the Governor. It was really fun.”

Istan also revealed that he got the opportunity to meet some of the big movie stars like Johnny Depp.

“I met those guys on the set, but I didn’t have my camera at that time. He was really cool and he even told me how I could improve on my acting skills. There were moments when I was far out in the sea and they had their cameras in land but they could see you really close up. They would tell me that I was smiling too much and that I had to put on a serious face. I guess I was excited, but those guys are real professionals.”

Asked which was the high point in the whole venture, Istan said “everything”. He noted that when he was in the US he got a part in a prison movie staring John Claude Van Dame but he fell ill and didn’t get the chance to do it. Getting a part in “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a dream come true and although it was a small part Istan was just elated to be part of the project.

So, when you see the only black sailor storming the beach to go ashore in the Pirates sequel, you know it’s “Papa Istan” fulfilling his life-long dream.