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With a new installment in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series potentially on the horizon, the question of whether Johnny Depp will return still lingers.
The development of Pirates of the Caribbean 6 has been in a state of limbo for years. The most recent film, 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, was a significant flop on top of being panned by critics and fans.
Additionally, the franchise’s headliner, Johnny Depp, became something of a Hollywood pariah in recent years, in part due to his very public defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.
Craig Mazin, showrunner of HBO’s smash hit The Last of Us, revealed (via the Los Angeles Times) that prior to the pandemic, he pitched an idea for a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which was reported to be a reboot.
To Mazin’s surprise, Disney picked up the idea and entered it into development. Things have been stagnant on that front for a few years now, apart from the penning of a “fantastic script,” and now, the still-ongoing writers’ strike has complicated Pirates 6’s progress even further:
“We pitched it and thought there’s no way they’re buying it, it’s too weird. And they did! And then he wrote a fantastic script and the strike happened and everyone’s waiting around.”
Of course, until the Writers Guild of America makes a new deal with the film studios, further headway on a sixth Pirates film will continue to stall. Still, the way in which Mazin hyped things up should prove quite promising, and perhaps even even exciting, for fans.
Previously, in late 2022, Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer stated that not one PotC movie was on the docket, but two. What’s more, is that Barbie star Margot Robbie was attached to lead one of them.
But where does that leave Johnny Depp who served as the face of the franchise for all five existing films?
For Pirates 1-5, Johnny Depp’s name was practically synonymous with these movies. His Captain Jack Sparrow was a cultural phenom for years, particularly in the mid-2000s when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End came out.
In 2012, Depp was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, but even that couldn’t prevent the actor’s downfall. After a glut of high-profile misses, such as 2015’s Mortdecai and Tim Burton‘s Dark Shadows from 2012, dished out major damage to his star power, Depp’s reputation was flagging considerably.
Then came another blow to his career in the form of his headline-grabbing legal battle against Amber Heard, Depp’s ex-wife. Heard alleged domestic abuse against Depp and although a jury found Heard guilty, the majority of Hollywood now doesn’t seem to want to touch Depp with a ten-foot pole.
So, where does he stand with the still-gestating Pirates of the Caribbean 6? Speaking to the media over the summer, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey remained “noncommittal” over whether or not Johnny Depp would reprise Jack Sparrow in the movie.
Now, there’s a strong possibility that Bailey was merely saving face with that remark. But taking into consideration that the movie has indeed been labeled as a reboot, perhaps Pirates 6 will start fresh with a clean slate, throwing out all of the older films’ continuity.
With that in mind, it seems quite probable that the sequel wouldn’t be listing Depp on its call sheet, despite his gradual return to show business. But of course, anything’s possible.