Following Johnny Depp’s victory in his defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a former Disney exec predicts the star’s return to the Pirates of the Caribbean film series as Jack Sparrow. Depp and Heard’s trial in Virginia put their private lives on trial in the public sphere. Ultimately, the jury awarded Depp $10 million in damages while awarding Heard $2 million. Both stars released statements after the jury read the verdicts. Heard decried the ruling as a setback for women (her lawyer says she plans to appeal). Depp, conversely, claimed the verdict gave him his life back and that “the best is yet to come.” Could that include a return as Disney’s famous pirate?
“I absolutely believe post-verdict that Pirates is primed for rebooting with Johnny as Capt. Jack back on board,” the anonymous former executive tells People. “There is just too much potential box-office treasure for a beloved character deeply embedded in the Disney culture. With [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer riding high on the massive success of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick, there is huge appetite for bringing back bankable Hollywood stars in massively popular franchises.”
Another anonymous insider tells People they believe Depp may reprise Jack Sparrow, but he’s unlikely to be in the starring role. Instead, they predict that Disney will go ahead with plans for a sixth movie, this time starring Margot Robbie. “I would think they make Robbie his daughter and likely have a cameo with him as a test,” the executive says.
Depp’s work with Disney also includes playing the Mad Hatter in the Alice movies. While testifying during the trial, Depp said he believed he’d been ousted from the Pirates franchise in a move by Disney to protect its reputation. He claimed he wouldn’t work with Disney ever again, even if they offered him $300 million. The executive speaking to People doesn’t buy it. “I don’t believe that based on his money troubles, especially given Pirates is a billion-dollar global franchise,” they tell People.
A third insider speaking to People believes Depp will return to Hollywood in some form. “I do feel someone will give him a chance. He is very likable and very talented. A studio will just have to gauge and see it worth the risk and value, but he also won public opinion. He gained a whole new fan base through this and, yes, he will be back.”
Depp’s debut as Jack Sparrow in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He returned in all four sequels thus far: 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest, 2007’s At World’s End, 2011’s On Stranger Tides, and 2017 Dead Men Tell No Tales. Disney has been developing projects in the franchise that do not include Capt. Jack.