The June 4th issue of Entertainment Weekly –yes, the one which features their list of “The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years”– includes a reminiscence by Johnny Depp for the character ranked #13 on their list, the unforgettable Captain Jack Sparrow. “I was just interested in exploring,” Johnny writes. “I was thinking of pirates as rock & roll stars, so Keith Richards was already in my mind. Then came Pepe Le Pew. And then Lee Marvin’s performance in Cat Ballou — it doesn’t get any better than that.” Marvin won the 1965 Best Actor Oscar for his performance, an extremely rare honor for a predominantly comic role. The inspiration was aptly chosen: Johnny’s Captain Jack Sparrow was Oscar-nominated in 2004 and honored by his peers with the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor.
However, the executives at Disney were not enamored with Johnny’s performance at first. “My agent, poor thing, was getting calls from Disney saying, ‘He’s ruining the movie!’ Finally, I just made the call to them and said, [. . . ] ‘Look, it may seem strange to you now, but you’ve got to trust me. I have a really strong feeling about it. And if you can’t trust me, you have to replace me.’ I felt like it was our duty [. . .] to push the boundaries. Because audiences like to see new stuff. They like to be surprised.” Fortunately for moviegoers everywhere, the Disney executives chose the first option, and the rest is cinema history. Yo ho!
The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the Entertainment Weekly article. To read more, see the Zone’s News & Views forum.