Johnny Depp never meant to become a major movie star, much less Captain Jack Sparrow.
The actor insists he did not seek superstar status when he first signed on to play his most iconic role, in the now-four-part "Pirates of the Carribean" franchise.
“It’s not my fault,” deadpanned Depp, who returns to theaters Friday as the smashed swashbuckler in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” “I did my best – I made a point of trying to get fired from the first one I made, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it."
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Depp’s only half-joking. He nearly got canned early on after a certain Disney exec objected to Captain Jack’s inebriated, androgynous attributes. Now, the quirky screen buccaneer is intrinsically linked to the actor who has managed to be Hollywood superstar and outsider at the same time.
“There’s most definitely a part of me in Captain Jack, and now, fortunately or unfortunately, there’s a great part of Captain Jack in me as well," Depp grinned in a recent interview. "Basically, I can’t shake him. He won’t leave me alone. He keeps showing up at odd times. In fact, he arrived this morning when I was getting my kids ready for school. I had shoo him away.”
And then there was his reunion with co-star Penelope Cruz, who plays a pirate “princess” who shares a complicated history with Sparrow.
“She taught me the raunchiest Spanish that I’ve ever been told. It’s so foul that I couldn’t bring myself to repeat it, here and now,” he laughs. “Whatever exists, in terms of chemistry, was just instantly firing on all cylinders. It felt completely right.”
Depp also gets a chance to re-team with his on-screen father, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who’s also something of a paternal figure to Depp as the inspiration for his characterization of Captain Jack. Depp also provided the narration for the audio book of Richards’ memoir “Life.”
“What an honor to be chosen by the man himself to represent the voice of the book,” Depp told PopcornBiz of the experience, some of which was captured on camera.
Depp is also directing a forthcoming documentary on Richards.
“We're in the process of cutting the footage that we have that we've already shot. We're doing it together now to see what we need next.”
And as for his off-screen life, he craves less fortune and glory than Captain Jack. “Smooth sailing – that's what I hope for,” he says. “I'm okay with no big ups and no big downs. That's all right. I'm just full steam ahead, with all things well and good. As a family man, all you want as a dad is pure happiness for your kids. Yeah, that's it -- that's my dream: happy kids.”