Johnny Depp Had A Surprising Response After Disney Execs Thought His Pirates Character Captain Jack Sparrow Was 'Drunk'

Johnny Depp in Pirates 2

Johnny Depp has had a long and successful career in film, including a variety of blockbuster hits. But despite his versatility as an actor, he's perhaps best known for his tenure as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Depp ultimately played the role in a whopping five blockbusters, although the property will reportedly move on without him moving forward. And it turns out that there was some pushback for the actor's now-iconic portrayal of the character, namely because folks at the studio thought he might actually be drunk.

Captain Jack Sparrow is the protagonist of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and moviegoers have watched his misadventures and slurred speeches for over a decade. And while it's impossible to think of any other version of the character, Johnny Depp recently explained how Disney execs were originally unsure about what he was bringing to the table. As the 57-year-old actor put it,

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.

Well, that's certainly one way of taking criticism. Johnny Depp had conviction in what he was bringing to Captain Jack Sparrow in 2003's The Curse of the Black Pearl, and ultimately it was a characterization that really resonated with audience. The character said his iconic lines through swigs of rum, and seemed to survive his various adventures on the big screen largely through luck.

Johnny Depp's comments at the Zurich Festival (via EuroNews) are sure to surprise the countless moviegoers who caught one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on the big screen. His performance as Jack Sparrow buoys each entry into the franchise, and provides countless laughs along the way. This is all due to Depp's performance, so it's strange to think of his instinct being pulled back ahead of The Curse of the Black Pearl.

As Johnny Depp mentioned, this pushback only encouraged him to go farther with his take on Captain Jack Sparrow. Obviously the studio was eventually won over, with the 2003 movie making a ton of money at the box office. Depp would later be tasked with leading four sequels as the character, further proving how he was right about Jack all along.

Despite Johnny Depp being synonymous with his Pirates of the Caribbean role, he's not attached to appear in the untitled sixth movie that's in development at Disney. It's hard to imagine the franchise without Jack Sparrow, but perhaps it'll usher a new era for the series. Besides, Depp is busy starring as the villainous Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

CinemaBlend will keep you updated on all things Pirates of the Caribbean as details become public. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.