While many of us were fans of Johnny Depp before his turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, it certainly was a career-defining performance that made him more of a household name with mainstream audiences. His offbeat performance earned him raves and eventually a Best Actor Oscar nomination but Disney execs certainly didn’t see the brilliance of the performance early on and asked the actor to tone it down a lot during filming.
During an interview with “Euronews“, Depp revealed that his take on the character was not a hit with the studio:
“They were nervous, they were afraid no one would understand a word Captain Jack said. I got calls from them asking, ‘Is he drunk? Are you drunk? What’s the thing with his hands?’ I wasn’t discouraged in the slightest, it fuels me. I know that if they’re worried, I’m doing my job. When they asked me to bring it down, I turned it up.”
Oddly enough, it was the many weird tics and mannerisms that Depp applied to Sparrow that made him a cult classic character, despite studio execs having little faith in Depp’s interpretation of the pirate. Before PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN came along, the audiences had little interest in pirate-themed movies, and there were no iconic pirate characters in Hollywood history save for maybe Dustin Hoffman in HOOK. All the worrying turned out to be for nothing because the film turned into a huge hit with critics and audiences, grossing $305.4 million at the domestic box office and $624.2 million worldwide. The success of the film gave Disney a franchise that made them A LOT of money and ultimately turned Depp’s Sparrow the de-factor lead of the future installments when he merely started as a supporting character that stole the show.
Despite the success of the films as a whole, with each installment, the reviews became more lukewarm and the domestic box office began to suffer as the films tried to give us too much of a good thing. Disney is rumored to be looking into rebooting the franchise, parting ways with Jack Sparrow permanently, and putting a female lead in his place but there’s no denying that his initial arrival was a nice jolt to a sub-genre that never really had a huge hit.
What are YOUR thoughts on Depp’s career after the success of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN?