10 Ways Johnny Depp SAVED Pirates of the Caribbean

Oh, Johnny Depp: that glorious, talented man who has been blessing our screens since 1984. With quirky rolls, classic looks and, let’s be honest, more than a little controversy, how could we ever resist such a treasure of the screen? From portraying beloved characters like Edward Scissorhands to constantly gracing tabloids with juicy gossip, he has kept audiences entertained for years. And, when it comes down to it, love him or hate him, he’s Hollywood’s bad boy – the man we all wish we either had or were – and in some cases, both! And there’s no role that epitomizes his bad boy ways more than his portrayal of Jack Sparrow.

One thing that’s as clear as the Caribbean sea is that Johnny Depp saved Pirates of the Caribbean. Grab your Dramamine and more than a little rum, because today Scarlett Media presents 10 ways Johnny Depp SAVED the Pirates of the Caribbean. If you agree with our list, don’t forget to stumble over and and stab the like and subscribe buttons or blast a cannon at the dislike button if you disagree, and don’t mind being wrong.

Spoilers ahead… As if you have not watched this.

Number 10, Depp’s name carried the franchise 

Some viewers may be surprised to learn that Hugh Jackman was actually the first choice for this now infamous role though at the time, Hugh wasn’t big enough to carry the franchise, which is hard to believe since he’s basically the size of a truck now. We’re sure that Hugh would have made a great pirate, but without the fame of Depp, the franchise would have flopped. Take heart, though, Hugh. There’s still a little bit of you in there – according to the writer, the name “Jack” was a nod to Jackman, the original inspiration for the part. 

Without Depp, were people really going to line up to see a movie about pirates that wasn’t made by the muppets? The answer is obviously no unless it had the pull of Hollywood’s eternally sexy bad boy. All marketing would have had to do was say “Would you like to see Johnny Depp as a drunk pirate?” and theaters would have had packed seats for months.

But for now, one thing is certain. Johnny Depp got this franchise off the ground, saving it before it even started. Audiences came for the name and stayed for the swagger.

Number 9, Depp brought the swag to Jack

Now, you might be thinking “Wait, if they originally wrote the role for Jackman, it would have been a serious one, right?” The original script was for a more Blackbeard type character. Think more rape and pillage, and less plunder and fun. When Depp came into the role, he just couldn’t see it, so he did what Johnny Depp always does – he brought the swag like a true pirate. The Jack Sparrow we know and love today was totally off script. His brilliance was born out of Depp’s take on the role which he called a combo of The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards and Looney Tunes cartoon character Pepé Le Pew. 

Though Depp’s choice was obviously the right one looking back at it now, Disney was anything but happy with the early footage they saw and told him he had to change. Depp told them they would have to fire him if they wanted Jack played any other way. Disney gave in and an iconic character was born.

Number 8, Depp’s one liners

Rewriting an entire character and changing all of their characteristics is, quite frankly, more than a bit of a script shift. And Johnny Depp didn’t stop there. On more than one occasion, he just threw in lines as the spirit moved him. The classic line at the end of the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of many examples. 

“Now, bring me that horizon” was so perfectly played that it was accepted in just one take to be the pearl (or should we say, the Black Pearl) at the end of the movie. And you know what they say. The first line sells the story, and the last lines sells the next; proving that little bits of improvisation like this saved Pirates of the Caribbean from being a one film wonder. 

Number 7, Depp pulls in the big stars

Pirates of the Caribbean is full of huge names – Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightly and Penelope Cruz to name a few. These actors bring the movie to a certain caliber on their own, but there are small, yet stand out roles, from some unlikely stars that bring some scenes from good to great. 

Good old Uncle Jack in “Dead Man’s Chest”, or “Salazar’s Revenge” depending on what side of the pond you’re from, is memorably played by the one and only Paul McCartney. Guess who we have to thank for that? Yup, it was Depp. McCartney and Depp became friends back in 2012 when Depp appeared in a music video of McCartney’s and have been buds ever since. So much so that Johnny was able to get him on for that hilarious, jail cell cameo.

McCartney isn’t the only rocker Johnny Depp brought in. Remember how we said Keith Richards was the inspiration, at least partly for Jack Sparrow? Well, he  actually played Captain Teague, the father of Jack Sparrow and important member of the pirate council, in a two of Pirates of the Caribbean films. 3 and 4 if you were wondering.

Pirates are the rock stars of the seven seas, and thanks to Johnny’s connections they brought new fans to the franchise – just in time to add the new edge that people were craving, saving the studio from getting stuck in a rut. 

Number 6, Johnny and Jack are inseparable

Even after receiving much acclaim for his performance of Captain Jack, Johnny Depp wasn’t done with the character. But without filming, where did he take it? Disney land of course!

Johnny Depp was inside the sets of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland when a group of unsuspecting visitors came to the ride. 

While in there, Depp dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow and surprised the guests, mid ride. He was ad-libbing and interacting with guests whose boats he said he was planning to “commandeer” just as he did in the film.

What a legend!

Every franchise can kick out a couple of games, join panels at conventions and upload some fan fiction, but not every one can give you the chance to actually experience it; to really meet the characters rather than the actors. Johnny Depp made that fantasy a reality, and there’s nobody else who can carry such sparkle and intrigue like that. He kept Jack alive between the films, which had people waiting to book the next box office ticket. His intuitive involvement saved the franchise from being relegated to whatever the movie version of Davy Jones’ Locker is.

Number 5, Depp may be the last real pirate

Can you image Pirates of the Caribbean without Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow? No, we can’t either, and we were bitterly disappointed at his lack of screen time in the fifth movie. Even if we did get some young Jack, it just wasn’t enough Depp. That’s not to say Anthony De La Torre didn’t do a spectacular job, because he did. We just wanted more.

Apparently, the directors had a similar experience while shooting the first film. The original plan was to have Jack be a minor, quirky character with only 8 minutes of screen time and no major ties to the plot.

Depp’s portrayal however was such a fan favourite that they had to rewrite the following films to keep him in, evening basing number four totally around him. In true Hollywood fashion, Disney didn’t want him and then couldn’t get enough of him once the dubloons started rolling in. It’s clear that Depp saved Pirates from being vanilla, and it looks like fans aren’t too keen on seeing a Pirates movie without him in, so no Depp might mean no more Pirates, further proving that Depp is truly the heart of Pirates.

Sorry Zak Effron, you might be taking up the role of Jack but for the fans, but you’ll never be Captain Jack Sparrow. And like any loyal crew, many hard core fans are refusing to accept Disney’s mutiny of their Captain, already saying they’ll boycott a Pirates movie without Johnny. 300,000 people have already signed petitions for his return, proving he’s the only saviour, the fans want sailing the seas. 

It might not be long before we have to set sail on a video journey about how firing Johnny Depp ruined the franchise. 

Number 4, Depp’s reputation stopped it being silly

Aside from having perfect hair and a jawline to die for, Johnny Depp is attractive because he’s, well, weird. And honestly, nobody does weird as well as Depp. He injected so much of his unique brand of weird into Jack Sparrow that we pretty much see them as the same person at this point – which they kind of are. Fans know going into a movie with Johnny Depp that weird things are going to happen, and honestly they’d be disappointed if that didn’t happen.

Johnny is typecast in a way that gets people on board with strange from the get-go. Pirates needed that quirkiness. From the moment watchers see Depp, anything is possible. Depp makes people open up their expectations and roll with the weirdness that is octopus men, zombie sharks, stone licking, a pet kraken and all of the things that would seem kind of stupid if you stepped back and thought about it objectively. But Depp kills all objectivity with his smoldering eyes and weird, weird persona and we love him for it.  Without Depp, Pirates ran the risk of being more than a bit silly and Depp saved them by twisting it into something quirky and cool.

Number 3, Depp’s charisma can’t be learned

Pirates have always had a certain allure. Despite them being murdering, thieving, swashbuckling rogues who probably had poor hygiene, bad teeth and a whole host of diseases that we don’t have time to talk about, pirates have always had a special place in our hearts. For many, they’re just downright appealing. And what could be more appealing than Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow? Regardless of your morals, it’s pretty clear that every fan has wanted to join his crew. Sparrow has huge charisma. That magic ingredient isn’t something that can be written into a script or learned. You just have to have it. Even through a screen, that genuine, god-given charisma is felt and it draws people in. It just makes his character so enticing. Whether you want to sail the seven seas on the Black Pearl or share a bottle of rum with the Captain on a beach in the middle of nowhere, we know Jack’s charisma had you watching the films over and over. 

Number 2, Depp reawakened a whole genre

When Pirates of the Caribbean came out, the pirate genre was in Davey Jones’ locker. There were a few ocean faring movies about, but nothing that stood out as the go-to for pirate fare. Frankly, it was all a bit flat and we were all land lovers, basking in the afterglow of one too many vampire films. 

It’s our pal Johnny who really made pirates a fun and approachable concept. Without Depp, we’d probably be on the side of the Navy, since Will and Elizabeth are the next in the line of fan favourites. He revolutionized the way we saw pirates, and since then there have been a lot of positive pirate roles – and not just in movies. The steampunk era heralded sky pirates, Assassin’s Creed rose Black Flag, Amazon had an exclusive series by the same name and a whole lot more. 

Without Depp’s version of Jack, we’d all be stuck in a rut of good guy saves the day and gets the girl when really, we could be focusing on adventure. The world isn’t black and white, and neither is this portrayal. And he gave color to an entire era of piracy… in a good way, saving it from a dull and macho stereotype that modern audiences just don’t want to see.

Before we get to our number one reason Johnny Depp may be the only reason this franchise was successful, swoon onto the subscribe button so you don’t miss any of our weekly videos about who and what saved or ruined our favorite parts of Hollywood. 

Number 1, Even rotten tomatoes says so

Considering Jack Sparrow has less screen time than Will and Elizabeth, it’s telling that the official summary for Pirates on rotten tomatoes is this: “Thanks to the efforts of Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, and a sashaying Johnny Depp, what was once just a ride at Disneyland has transformed into a blockbuster adventure franchise filled with swashbuckling high-seas thrills.” Wonder how that went down with the other actors. Luckily, Orlando will always have the success of another franchise to keep him warm at night. 

Not only did Depp save the movies, he saved every site talking about it from scraping around for ways to advertise it – because Depp is an advertisement in and of himself.

Thanks for watching, if you liked it be sure to hit that like button and subscribe to our channel. If we haven’t already done your favorite film or franchise, let us know in the comments and see if your recommendation gets picked. Until next time, bring me that horizon and bring it with Depp – because he truly saved this franchise the way he pulled Elizabeth from the waters; the way only he could.

Writer: Bandi Crawford
Editor: Arielle Andreano
Voice: Ashley Hollier
Video: Angel Gustanski

#Saved #ScarlettMedia #JohnnyDepp

Scarlett.Media productions are for commentary, criticism and parody. All media samples are for transformative and fair use.

See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).