When it comes to formidable Disney roles, there’s probably none more iconic than Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. For over a decade, Depp brought the fan-favorite sea captain to life in a series of five films that earned The Walt Disney Company over $950 million.
Jack Sparrow, didn’t just succeed at the box office; the popular character has become engrained in popular culture, and it’s all thanks to Johnny Depp giving such a memorable and amazing performance time and again.
Johnny Depp Since ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’
Since the last film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), things have changed drastically for the Edward Scissorhands (1990) star.
Depp, whose career features a vast array of character roles stemming from Willy Wonka to the Mad Hatter, has undergone a series of misfortune, many attributed to a widely publicized defamation case with ex-wife Amber Heard.
As you probably know, despite working with Walt Disney Studios as Jack Sparrow (among other characters) and with Warner Brothers Studios as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series, Johnny Depp was abruptly fired from these high-value roles after allegations of abuse came at the hands of Amber Heard in an expose released by the Washington Post.
Since the infamous court case, which saw Johnny Depp ultimately victorious over Amber Heard, fans have been awaiting any word regarding the potential of Depp’s return to Disney as Captain Jack Sparrow.
However, Disney has remained solid in their position, and nothing has been disclosed about the future of Pirates of the Caribbean outside of rumors of a spinoff featuring Margot Robbie or whispers of weird scripts and close friends like Tim Burton and Jerry Bruckheimer suggesting that Johnny Depp may consider coming back to work.
As for Warner Brothers, they decided to go a different route after the firing of Johnny Depp, hiring Mads Mikkelsen to reprise the role of Grindelwald alongside Eddie Redmayne, who, interestingly enough, was mentioned as a potential romantic partner of Amber Heard during Depp’s hearing.
Depp Versus Heard
It seems as if when it comes to those two studios, the allegations and following court battle that ensued with Amber Heard may have been enough to permanently end their relationship with Johnny Depp in the long hall.
Despite the testimony of those closest to Depp, including ex-girlfriend Kate Moss, denying allegations of abuse by the superstar actor, based on silence, it feels as if Disney will not extend the olive branch to the academy award winning actor anytime soon.
Although Depp has been a permanent staple in Hollywood since his first film, Nightmare on Elm Street, in 1984, he has popular roles in movies like Ed Wood (1994), 21 Jump Street (2012), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Finding Neverland (2004) aren’t enough to mend the wounds caused by Depp’s abrupt firing prior to his trial with Heard.
Many, including Helena Bonham Carter, ex-Vanessa Paradis (mother of Depp’s children Lily Rose Depp and Jack Depp), and even Alice Cooper have had little to say regarding negative associations to Depp’s character, but still, as the actor gets back on his feet with recent oles like Jeanne Due Barry (2023), where he plays King Louis XV, Disney has yet to call.
What Johnny Depp is Up to Now
Depp, who received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, most recently wrapped up filming on Modi, which takes the Depp V Heard documentary star behind the camera instead of in front of it, directing greats like longtime associate Al Pacino.
However, the question still remains whether Depp could return to Disney and potentially save Pirates of the Caribbean. As one look on social media would suggest, the franchise can not continue without the superstar actor, who has focused more heavily on his musical career with The Hollywood Vampires since his trial.
The Future of ‘Pirates’
In a shocking turn of events during the defamation case with Amber Heard, the legendary actor Johnny Depp famously announced in agreement that he would not be returning to portray the iconic character of Captain Jack Sparrow in any upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean films.
That decision left fans and movie enthusiasts in a state of disbelief and has sparked intense speculation about the franchise’s future. Let’s delve into the reasons behind Johnny Depp’s departure and the impact it might have on the beloved pirate saga.
After portraying Captain Jack Sparrow for over a decade, Johnny Depp had become synonymous with the swashbuckling pirate. His charismatic and eccentric portrayal brought life to the character, propelling the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to immense success. However, bitterness at Disney seemed to have stopped the franchise in its tracks.
It is really Disney’s fault, however? Johnny Depp’s personal life has been marred by highly publicized legal battles, most notably his bitter divorce from actress Amber Heard. The highly publicized court case resulted in damage to Depp’s public image and significant financial loss. Subsequent legal battles have also weighed heavily on the actor, resulting in a defamation lawsuit against a British tabloid. These ongoing legal troubles have undoubtedly influenced Disney’s decision to step away from the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.
Still, Depp, who many feel has had a change of heart toward the role, could potentially return given a proper script if he can keep his nose clean. However, a potential new role may be enough for Disney to place the final nail in the coffin of Depp’s return.
The absence of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in future Pirates of the Caribbean films would undeniably mark the end of an era. Depp’s portrayal was instrumental in capturing the hearts of audiences worldwide and establishing the franchise as a staple in the adventure genre. It remains to be seen how the departure of such an iconic character will impact the future of the Pirates series.
Depp’s New Role?
However, interest in a new role that could be considered iconic but definitely not family-friendly may be enough to keep Depp away from Disney permanently.
According to Variety Magazine, director Terry Gilliam is eyeing Johnny Depp to play Satan in Carnival at the End of Days.
The former Monthy Python member went on record during the Red Sea Film Festival saying that in Carnival at the End of Days, “God wipes out humanity and the only character who wants to save them is Satan, and Johnny Depp plays Satan.”
Gilliam went on to elaborate, “This is a simple tale of God wiping out humanity for f—–g up his beautiful garden Earth,” Gilliam said. “There’s only one character who’s trying to save humanity and that’s Satan, because without humanity he’s lost his job and he’s an eternal character and so to live without a job is terrible. So he finds some young people and he tries to convince God that these young people are the new Adam and Eve. God still gets to wipe out humanity. It’s a comedy.”
Gilliam, who has worked with Johnny Depp before on Lost in La Mancha (2002), then joked that if you pay attention, his name comes before the popular actor in the credit, as he must keep Captain Jack Sparrow “in his place.”
A role like this for Depp, coming off of a highly publicized trial with Amber Heard, is certainly a creative decision. However, it is one that could potentially backfire in the eyes of those hoping to see him return as Jack Sparrow in future Pirates projects.
However, although Disney is a family-friendly company when it comes to satirical Satan material, their hands aren’t clean. To much condemnation, Little Demon, the story of Satan’s antichrist daughter born to a mortal, was released on Disney-owned FX. So, maybe it is too far of a stretch to assume that just because Depp could play Satan in a new film, hopes of coming back to Pirates are dead.
However, with Johnny Depp’s departure, the franchise must still embark on the daunting task of searching for a new actor to step into the boots of Captain Jack Sparrow. Finding an actor who can capture the same level of charisma and eccentricity will undoubtedly be a challenging endeavor. The casting decision for this pivotal role will likely shape the direction and success of future Pirates of the Caribbean films or projects with or without Johnny Depp.
Although it feels likely that by his own decision, the best-actor award winner will not return to Disney or Pirates of the Caribbean, we can’t be sure. However, Depp remains extremely enticing, and we’re all interested in any roles he may play in the future. The same can be said for Pirates, and how Disney will move forward with the franchise.