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Shy traits of the Caribbean; PIRATES STAR KAYA ON TURNING HER LIFE AROUND I was dyslexic, bullied and insecure but then I discovered acting and look at me now.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY PETER SHERIDAN

AS Johnny Depp's new leading lady, British beauty Kaya Scodelario plays a strongwilled woman who is no one's damsel in distress.

But the star of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, today reveals she was once a tormented schoolgirl wracked by fear and anxiety before acting turned her life around.

"I was incredibly insecure as a child," says Kaya, 25, who got her screen start 10 years ago through teen TV drama Skins.

"I was bullied. Dyslexic. It really affected my self-esteem. I went through a year of hating myself. I was bullied to the point of having to change schools."

Classmates even taunted Kaya because her dad had walked out when she was one.

"I was the daughter of an immigrant, a single parent," says Kaya, who was raised alone by her Brazilian mother in a council flat in Islington, North London.

"I had no idea what I was going to do in life. I had no ambition."

But that all changed when she plucked up courage to try her hand at public speaking at school. Kaya was transformed.

SCREAM "The first time I ever stood up in class in front of everyone, I loved it - embodying a character so different to myself," she says. "I've been fortunate enough to make a career out of it."

Yet when it came to appearing in the Pirates franchise, her old insecurities returned while shooting a scene where she and Depp are on the gallows.

"We had 500 extras, animals, kids, and we're about to be executed and we decide to have an argument," she says. "I got to scream at 600 people to 'shut up!' which I was so nervous about, as I've never done stage or theatre and I get incredibly insecure about public situations.

"It was like this cool learning curve of being on show, having to just own it, go for it, and act like an idiot. I really enjoyed it."

Kaya was only 14 when she made her acting debut as manipulative teen tearaway Effy Stonem in Skins.

The Channel 4 drama also launched the careers of Dev Patel, Nicholas Hoult, and Jack O'Connell who Kaya dated for a year before they split in 2009.

"I grew up in a very working class neighbourhood," she says. "A lot of my earnings from Skins went on bills and getting us a new sofa."

SHIVER ME TIMBERS Kaya awed by Jack Sparrow She quit the show after four seasons and appeared in indie films including Moon and Wuthering Heights before finding Hollywood stardom in sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner and its sequel, with a third due next year.

But despite all her experience, Kaya admits feeling weak at the knees when filming began on Pirates.

"I'd met Johnny Depp, at the table read, but when he came on set dressed as Jack Sparrow, that was it - I was a little kid again. I was more starstruck by Jack Sparrow than I was by Johnny Depp."

Filming in Australia opposite Depp, 54, and swashbuckling cut-throats played by Geoffrey Rush, 65, and Javier Bardem, 48, left Kaya in awe. "You look around on set and think: Oh, three Oscars. It's crazy," she says.

FUNNY "Every day was a lesson in acting. It was like going to the best drama school ever for six months - and it happened to be on the beach.

"Johnny was very kind to me. He's wonderful. He becomes Jack Sparrow and just lets it flow, and fall out of him. Geoffrey was so "Johnny was very kind to me. He's wonderful. He becomes Jack Sparrow and just lets it flow, and fall out of him. Geoffrey was so funny. I didn't expect him to be. He's a huge, big teddy bear." But Bardem, who plays the menacing ghostly pirate hunter Captain Salazar, intimidated Kaya at first.

"I thought he was going to be super-intense the whole time," she says. "But he's actually super-lovely, and fluffy and friendly in between shots."

Kaya plays Carina Smyth, a gutsy scientist and astronomer who helps Depp's Captain Sparrow search for the mythical Trident of Poseidon. She navigates the pirates' adventures while squeezed into crushing corsets and high heels, yet she says it was the male stars who moaned about their costumes. "There was a day when all the men were complaining about the little heel on their boots," she says. "They were going, 'oh, these boots! My back is killing me.' Big deal. Are you kidding me?" Kaya had battles of her own with her tightly laced bodices and billowing gowns. "I had a corset and 17 layers," FLUFFY Bardem she says. "The first day on set I thought, 'how am I going to do anything in this dress?' "I'm very much a jeans and T-shirt girl. But you adapt, and get your husband to slowly loosen it at lunchtime without telling anyone."

Kaya's husband is US actor Benjamin Walker, 34, who starred in 2012 hit Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

PREGNANT They met in 2014 while filming action adventure The King's Daughter set for release later this year. They married in 2015, and as the villain their son was born last November. In this fifth Pirates, Kaya takes on the leading lady role originated by Keira Knightley in 2003. The pair share a pivotal scene in the latest movie, but they never actually met.

Instead, they were combined on screen digitally as Kaya was nine months pregnant when Knightley filmed her cameo.

"It was actually my due date," Kaya recalls. "I was very heavily pregnant, so I wasn't even there.

"There was a lot of camera trickery, so I never got to meet her, which I'm really sad about.

"I know she lives near me in London, so I'm going to stalk the streets and try to bump into her maybe."

And if a sixth Pirates movie

Johnny was so kind to me. He's wonderful. He becomes Jack Sparrow and just lets it flow KAYA SCODELARIO ON WORKING WITH PIRATES STAR DEPPSo nervous at having to scream 'shut up' at 600 people from gallows KAYA ON HER ANXIOUS MOMENT IN PIRATES

CAPTION(S):

FLUFFY Bardem as the villain

SHIVER ME TIMBERS Kaya awed by Jack Sparrow

BIG BREAK Kaya played Effy in Skins

FAME Guest on the US Late Late Show with James Corden

SHIP SHAPELY At the latest Pirates movie premiere in Hollywood

PIRATE'S TREASURE As gutsy Carina on deck with Jack Sparrow. Below: the gallows scene that had her nerves jangling

Picture: FLYNETPICTURES.CO.UK
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2017
Words:1094
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