Disney has reportedly cut ties with Dwayne Johnson in a major film franchise after a massive $3 billion lawsuit was filed that names Johnson as the mastermind behind an elaborate kidnapping plot against another former pro-wrestler and her children.
In May 2022, Johnny Depp was still buried in the drudgery of a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Four days a week, Depp made the trek from his hotel room to the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, and each day, those in the gallery and those watching the trial online were privy to new accusations, new allegations, and new revelations about the couple’s tumultuous relationship.
Depp’s legal woes in response to his ex-wife’s unrelenting attempts to defame his character permanently had taken a toll on his acting career, ultimately leading to Depp’s dismissal from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise by Disney and the Fantastic Beasts franchise by Universal, among other lost opportunities and film projects. And in the midst of the battle brewing in Virginia between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard during the spring of 2022, reports began to surface about the possibility of another wildly successful actor taking on the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.
In May 2022, several media outlets began reporting about Disney’s possible plans to offer the titular Pirates role to actor Dwayne Johnson. Because of Johnson’s success in Hollywood, as well as his relationship with Disney, the idea of the studios welcoming Johnson aboard the Black Pearl didn’t sound too far-fetched, though many fans of the swashbuckling film franchise were up in arms over such a proposal, saying they’d boycott any Pirates film that didn’t feature Johnny Depp in his career-defining role as the drunken, witty-with-words Captain Jack.
Johnson has had roles in some of Hollywood’s most lucrative films and franchises, including the role of Luke Hobbs in The Fast and the Furious franchise and the role of Black Adam in the film by the same name. His career also includes roles in many movies for Disney, including Race to Witch Mountain (2007), The Game Plan (2009), Moana (2016), and The Jungle Cruise (2021). He is now one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors and just recently announced a new film project for Disney–the live-action take-two of Moana.
But it’s amazing how quickly things can take a turn for the worse.
Before Johnson was a Hollywood icon, he was a WWE star. He began acting in 2001 but didn’t officially hang up his gold belt until 2019. Now, one of his former associations inside the WWE has come back to haunt him, as Johnson has been named in a massive $3 billion kidnapping lawsuit by former TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) wrestler Trenesha Biggers, also known by her ring name, Rhaka Khan. Khan claims that she and her children were the targets of an elaborate criminal plot orchestrated by Johnson and a plethora of other defendants–some individuals, some groups, some government agencies, and some businesses–and that together, the defendants worked to kidnap Biggers, as well as her children.
Now a report at Essentially Sports suggests that talk about Johnson taking over the role of Captain Jack has been silenced following news of the lawsuit against the former wrestler. The report even goes so far as to suggest that the producer of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, Jerry Bruckheimer, could be nearly laser-focused on bringing back Johnny Depp for the role in the sixth installment of the franchise:
Now it looks like Depp is finally going to come out of his unwanted hiatus, as producer Jerry Bruckheimer came up with his stance on his casting in the next Pirates film from Oscar’s red carpet. Bruckheimer noted, ”We’re all working on it [the next “Pirates” film]. We’ll see how it comes out. We’re very excited. I think we’re gonna have a great screenplay, and we’re getting close.”
When asked about Depp potentially returning, the co-producer noted, ”We’ll see. I would love it. I would love to have him in the movie – that’s all that I can tell you.”