Pirates of the Caribbean: Disney Had Other Candidates for the Role of Jack Sparrow Before Johnny Depp

Amber Heard’s ex-husband was not the studio’s first choice, which even thought of a now-Stranger Things star for the first film in the franchise.

In the imagination of many fans, another actor besides Johnny Depp would be unthinkable to give life to the captain Jack Sparrowthe always drunk and irreverent protagonist of Pirates of the Caribbean. But the truth is that Disney was considering several big names for the main role in the franchise, which began with The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) and has already accumulated five films.

After the release of Salazar’s Revenge (2017), House of Mickey intended to follow up with a sixth and final feature that would conclude Sparrow’s story. The idea ended up going down the drain due to the legal battle between Depp and Amber Heard, his ex-wife and actress who, in 2016, accused him of physical and verbal violence.

Johnny Depp Surprises Fans By Impersonating Jack Sparrow On His Way To Amber Heard Trial

With the recent (and controversial) verdict in favor of Depp, his return to the saga is open again. While the company doesn’t make a decision, we can investigate which Hollywood stars were considered to play the protagonist of Pirates of the Caribbean. Check it out below:


Before Depp was even an option, Disney was willing to do anything to get Matthew McConaughey to star in the film. The reason? His great resemblance to Burt Lancaster, an American actor who starred in the bloody pirate (1952) and which, for that very reason, served as an inspiration for Jack Sparrow.


Another one Disney tried to recruit to have a globally recognizable face on the poster was Robert De Niro. When the project was still in its early stages, he was offered the role of Sparrow, but he turned it down, thinking the film would be a failure, like the other pirate productions previously released.


One of the closest alternatives to materialization was that of Jim Carrey. The studio loved the comedian, who, in turn, was very interested in the character. However, filming would coincide with Almighty (2003), and he ended up opting for the latter. Interestingly, it’s not the first time the Canadian has come close to taking on a role as Depp, as he was also among the top contenders for Edward Scissorhands (1990).


Cary Elwes, now known for his role as Mayor Larry Kline in Stranger Things, was also on Disney’s radar for Pirates of the Caribbean. Westley’s interpreter in The Princess Bride (1987) could have added another iconic job to his resume, but to this day we don’t know if he auditioned for the role of Sparrow.


The name Christopher Walken came up as an alternative to that of Cary Elwes when there was the prospect of releasing the film directly on VHS, after the failure of the animation Beary and the Redneck Bears (2002). Can you imagine the Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor for The Sharpshooter (1978) playing the captain of the Black Pearl?

About Hrishikesh Bhardwaj

Tv specialist. Falls down a lot. Typical troublemaker. Hipster-friendly advocate. Food fan.

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