Today, Pirates of the Caribbean is a huge billion-dollar movie franchise, but when the first movie was in production it was a huge gamble for Disney. The last movie in the swashbuckling genre was 1995’s Cutthroat Island, which was a total box office flop and led to the closure of Carolco Pictures. So when Disney hired Johnny Depp to play Captain Jack Sparrow in The Curse of the Black Pearl, his take on the character was seen as very risky.
Depp’s co-star Greg Ellis, who played Lieutenant Commander Theodore Groves in three of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, has shared just how essential Depp was and still is to the franchise.
Appearing on Stevie J Raw in the video below, Ellis said: “I think back to when we made Pirates 1, the last Pirates movie before that was a decade previous…in Cutthroat Island.
“People forget that to get Pirates of the Caribbean green-lit and made was a huge risk.
“And it would not have been green-lit if it were not for Johnny Depp. Reality. That’s it.”
READ MORE: Pirates of the Caribbean: Who Johnny Depp based Jack Sparrow on
Ellis continued: “And there was still nervousness when we started making it because Disney – people forget at that time as well and still to this day – is a culture of family and children and funfair rides and cartoons and magical fantasy kingdoms.
“So the notion of this effeminate, slightly drunken…pirate was to put terror into the hearts of Disney.
“So I commend Disney, [Disney chairman at the time] Dick Cook in particular for actually having the chutzpah to move forward with it.”
Depp’s Pirates co-star reaffirmed that really it was Johnny and without him it wouldn’t have been made.
Ellis told us: “I think for Pirates 6…in an ideal world, every character who the fans have fallen in love with will be able to come back to kind of wrap everything up.
“Ultimately it comes down to screenplay and story.
“If Jack Sparrow isn’t a key, if not the key element, to wrapping up a multi-billion dollar franchise, is it not akin to not having Captain Kirk in [the original] Star Trek?”
Pirates of the Caribbean 6 is still in the works, but in the meantime, a spin-off starring Margot Robbie has been confirmed.
Speaking with Collider, Robbie was asked what she was planning on bringing to the Pirates franchise.
The 30-year-old replied, “A lot of girl power!”, before admitting that there wasn’t too much she could say about the spin-off just yet.
She added: “No, it’s too early to talk about it… I love [screenwriter] Christina, obviously. I’m not a producer on Pirates, so I’ll sit back and kind of wait for the process…
“No, we’re really, really excited at the prospect of adding obviously a very key female element to that world.”