A little over a week ago, at Disney's first annual D23 Fan Expo, Johnny Depp greeted fans in full costume as Captain Jack Sparrow, to announce the planned Summer 2011 release of the fourth installment in the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise, titled On Stranger Tides.
But with the unexpected departure of Dick Cook, the longtime head of Walt Disney Studios, on Friday, Depp's future involvement in the highly-successful franchise is in serious jeopardy. In a phone interview from London wit the LA Times, Depp said of Cook leaving Disney:
[I am] shocked and very sad. [Dick Cook is] the sweetest man on the planet and such a gent. It seems like the whole town is shocked.
Cook called Depp to break the news to him:
He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself. He said, 'I'd like you to hear it from me before you hear it from someone else or read it.' He said, 'today was my last day.' He didn't give me a reason.
I didn't see this coming. There was no reason to see this coming.
Depp explained it was because of Cook that he ended up working with Disney in the first place. Cook had been trying nab Depp for years with various movie and animated projects. Depp recalled the day, in Cook's office, that the studio chief threw out an idea that he immediately pounced on:
He said, 'We're thinking about doing this Pirates of the Caribbean movie,' I said I was in. This was before there was a script or anything.
Depp said the reason for his blind commitment to the movie was because he trusted Cook:
He's instantly trustworthy. And you generally don't meet people at the studios you trust. He's a rare beast.
Depp said Cook had the same trust and admiration for him, defending his then controversial choices for the Jack Sparrow character-- filling his mouth with gold fillings, with "things tied into my hair", basing the look and mannerisms on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards-- when filming for the first Pirates of The Caribbean began:
When things went a little sideways on the first 'Pirates' movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me.
While some of the Disney executives...
...opposed to my body language. [Cook] was completely supportive of me.
Depp said while he has a potential deal in place to reprise his role in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and other potential sequels, which depends on how good the script is, his passion for the project at the moment has been severely dampened by the news that Cook will no longer be around.
There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment. It was all born in that office.
Even with the mixed reviews of the last two sequels, fan response for more Pirates movies has been predominantly positive. His waning excitement for a fourth movie is understandable. Sam Raimi's Spiderman cast have a similar outlook towards continuing a project without their leader, as well as Nolan's Batman cast. You see this all the time in sports as well.
Depp said he is confident that he and Cook will one day work together again.
He will be somewhere and I will always look forward to working with him. I consider Dick a friend inside an insane system. He's someone I understand and I think he understands me.
So what do you think of Johnny Depp potentially leaving the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise?