Keanu Reeves Takes Iconic Role From Johnny Depp in Film Franchise Worth Billions

Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves
Credit: Disney / Warner Bros.

For all his talents, actor Johnny Depp simply couldn’t keep the iconic role in a famed billion-dollar franchise from slipping out of his hands forever. But just imagine how different The Matrix‘s (1999) successful film franchise would have been if Depp took the lead.

johnny depp as captain jack sparrow, looking anxious

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Related: Johnny Depp’s Most Prolific Role Might Just Be the One You Never Knew He Played

Actor Johnny Depp

Actor Johnny Depp has never been lacking in talent. He began his acting career in 1984, playing a small role in Wes Craven’s horror film Nightmare on Elm Street. After that role, Depp routinely received offers to audition for other roles, and the trend continued for over 30 years.

Then, following false accusations by his ex-wife, Amber Heard, Depp saw a drop in offers for new films and roles. He sued Heard for defamation of his character, and during the trial, Depp testified that Heard’s lies had cost him numerous roles, including his iconic, self-made role of Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Johnny Depp Jack Sparrow

Credit: Disney

Related: Fans “Disgusted” by Johnny Depp’s Recent Appearance; Is the Actor’s Health Declining?

Disney seemed to part ways with Depp even before hearing the verdict in the defamation trial as if the entertainment giant had already chosen to side with Heard before all the facts and testimony were presented. Even now, several months after the verdict in the case was delivered and Heard’s claims about domestic violence and domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-husband Johnny Depp were proven false, Depp’s future as the swashbuckling pirate remains uncertain.

Disney continues to refuse to make any apologies to Depp (but that’s ok because he’s already gotten the last word–and he did so beautifully.)

Johnny Depp’s brilliance led to the creation of the character of Captain Jack Sparrow fans know today. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is worth more than $5 billion now, thanks to Depp.

Though Disney has pulled back on placing Depp back in the role for a sixth installment of the franchise so far, the company has had no qualms about continuing to use Depp’s likeness in its marketing of the film, its animatronics inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disney Parks, and in Disney-branded merchandise for the film.

johnny Depp: Sorry, fans, but Johnny Depp isn't returning as Jack Sparrow! Actor's rep reacts to Disney's $301 million deal rumours - The Economic Times

Credit: Disney

Related: Could Johnny Depp Return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Soon?

Depp in The Matrix?

However, it has come to light that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise isn’t the only multi-billion film franchise with which Depp has been associated. Another franchise with a corresponding iconic role was once Depp’s for the taking, but he passed on it because, at the time, he was regularly filming and playing the role of Jack Sparrow for Disney.

So, did Depp make the right decision?

Two film directors, known professionally as “The Wachowskis,” began writing the story of The Matrix (1999) in 1992 after a friend asked them to write an original story for a comic book. Their first choice for the main character, Neo, was Johnny Depp.

The first of many films in the franchise made close to $500 million at the box office and gave the Wachowskis a bright green light for three sequels: The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), and The Matrix Resurrections (2021).

The Matrix Resurrections': Neo and Trinity Are Back (With Amnesia)

Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Keanu Reeves Is An Official Disney Prince

Altogether, the film franchise has made nearly $2 billion. And who knows–with Depp as Neo, the films might have garnered double that amount. But because Depp was embracing and embodying the role of Captain Jack, the role of Neo was one he was forced to turn down.

Actor Keanu Reeves

Ultimately, actor Keanu Reeves landed the part of the computer programmer and cybercriminal known as “the One” in The Matrix films.

No disrespect to Mr. Reeves, of course, but there’s just something about Johnny Depp that tells us he would have taken the role of Neo in other directions, ultimately leading the cast and crew of The Matrix to even greater returns on their work and even greater notoriety over the years.

Are you happy Keanu Reeves starred as Neo, or would you have preferred Johnny Depp? Let us know in the comments!

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

One comment

  1. What a shame to judge before the real judge did. Not being greatful to a man who made you so much money and kept fans supporting you. I am another fan that will no longer support the Disney movies. I have removed our yearly trips to any WDW reaorts as well as friends of mine. I also find myself refusing to purchase any clothes and such with any Disney characters on it.