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Johnny Depp in Demand: Studio Contracts to Pay Actor $10,000 for Each Word He Speaks in Film

johnny depp film roles
Credit: YouTube/Sundries

For many directors, casting Johnny Depp in a feature film role is an achievement that signals success in their own careers, and one director was so pleased to land Depp that the studio paid the actor $10,000 for every word he spoke during the film.

johnny depp captain jack sparrow kevin mcnally joshamee gibbs

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Related: Actor Keanu Reeves Takes Iconic Role from Johnny Depp in Multi-Billion-Dollar Film Franchise

What began as a seemingly insignificant role in a horror film in the early 1980s turned into one of the most lucrative film careers in Hollywood history for actor and musician Johnny Depp.

Between his first role as a teenager in Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 and his recent role as King Louis XV Netflix film La Favorite, Johnny Depp has made more than 70 feature films, embodying a wide range of character roles, including the Mad Hatter in Disney’s Tim Burton collab Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and, of course, the incomparable Captain Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise (2003-2017).

On May 2, 2024, Depp’s newest film, Jeanne Du Barry, will be released in 500 theaters nationwide. Depp will portray King Louis XV. Jeanne Du Barry first premiered in 2023 at the Cannes Film Festival, receiving a seven-minute standing ovation.

captain jack sparrow

Credit: Disney

Related: Dwayne Johnson and Johnny Depp Tapped for the Same Iconic Role in Blockbuster Film

Depp spent the bulk of his acting career enjoying offer after money-making offer for roles in upcoming blockbuster film projects, but all of that came to a screeching halt when Depp was accused by his ex-wife, Amber Heard, of domestic violence and domestic abuse.

Some moviehouses like Disney and Universal dropped Depp (though Universal was far kinder to the beleaguered actor than Disney was), and for a short period of time, Depp had very few offers to star in new films.

After a lengthy defamation trial in 2022 brought on by Depp’s suit against Heard, the jury found Heard to be the abuser, and Depp moved on with his life and career, taking time to pursue his first love–music–while playing guitar alongside one of his best friends, musician Jeff Beck.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

Credit: Disney

Related: Johnny Depp Congratulates His “Dear Friend” Robert Downey Jr. On His First-Ever Oscar Win

Though Disney has made no attempt to apologize to Johnny Depp for judging him without the facts, he continues to be a hot commodity in the film industry.

In March 2023, the director of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films, Jerry Bruckheimer, reiterated his desire to have Depp star in a further installment of the franchise.

The Hollywood trend over the last few years of denying roles to Johnny Depp is quite a switch from what had taken place throughout Depp’s career up to that point. In 1990, only a few years after Depp made his acting debut, he was cast in the starring role in a film written and directed by Tim Burton.

Edward Scissorhands debuted at the box office on December 7, 1990, and was an instant hit. The film tells the story of an artificial young man, Edward Scissorhands, created by a scientist who dies before his project is completed–but not before he gives him a freakish appearance with scissor blades instead of hands. Edward’s life is turned upside-down when a suburban family takes him in as one of their own.

The secret history of Edward Scissorhands | Dazed

Credit: Disney

Related: Real-Life Edward Scissorhands Causes Havoc in Suburban Texas Neighborhood

In the film, Depp embodies Edward Scissorhands, bringing the character to life. But his character is very quiet during the film, saying a total of only about 150 words throughout the length of the film. But for his efforts in the film, the studio paid Depp $1.5 million, or $10,000 for each word he spoke during the film.

Not a bad salary for speaking only 150 words.

Do you have a favorite Johnny Depp film? Let us know your top pick 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!

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