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Succession Star Calls Johnny Depp 'Overrated' While Talking Role He Could Have Taken In Pirates Of The Caribbean

Veteran character actor Brian Cox appears to be the kind of man who doesn’t mince words. Which should make his upcoming memoir, Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, an enjoyable read. As excerpts from the book begin to make the rounds ahead of its publication, we are starting to learn about coveted roles Cox turned down over the course of his Hollywood career, and one of them would have put him opposite the “so overrated” Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. 

Opening up about his career in the excerpt published by GQ, Brian Cox says he was up for the role of Governor Swann in Disney’s blockbuster franchise, but went on to say:

It would have been a money-spinner, but of all the parts in that film it was the most thankless, plus I would have ended up doing it for film after film and missed out on all the other nice things I've done.

Part of me understands why Brian Cox felt this way about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise when it was offered to him. At that time, the movie was only known as “being based on a theme park ride,” and Cox likely didn’t know how much acting would be allowed by the series. But if you ask franchise veterans Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy, they’d probably tell you that they chewed more scenery than normal as director Gore Verbinski gave the cast members plenty of rope. 

As for Johnny Depp, he did earn an Oscar nomination for playing Capt. Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but his previous film roles didn’t impress Cox much. The actor writes in his memoir:

Another thing with Pirates of the Caribbean is that it’s very much the 'Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow"' show, and Depp, personable though I’m sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated. I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t. And subsequently, he’s done even less. But people love him. Or they did love him. They don’t love him so much these days, of course. If Johnny Depp went for Jack Sparrow now, they’d give it to Brendan Gleeson.

Zing! Brian Cox is riding a wave of critical goodwill lately thanks to his portrayal of Logan Roy in the popular HBO Max series Succession. He earned an Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for that part back in 2020, and the consensus on the series is that it keeps getting better, led in part by Cox’s performance. Johnny Depp isn’t enjoying the same levels of success. His off-screen allegations seem to have stopped his acting opportunities in their tracks, and he was even removed him from the Fantastic Beasts franchise (he was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen) in recent years.

Personally, I’m glad Brian Cox didn’t sign up for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It could have interfered with his contributions to the Bourne series, Deadwood, and his stellar turn in David Fincher’s serial-killer masterpiece, Zodiac. Give me all of those, instead.

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.