Johnny Depp became the key part of the Pirates of the Caribbean series as soon as it began in 2003. Since then, over the four sequels that followed, Disney earned more than $4.5 billion at the box office with the star at the forefront of the swashbuckling adventure movies – but this was not enough to tempt one legendary British actor to join the series.
Brian Cox recently wrote an article about his career, in which he revealed he was approached to work on the Pirates franchise as the Governor. The character was the father of Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Swann, and subsequently appeared in two of the film’s sequels (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End). But Cox confessed he “turned his nose up” at the part before it was eventually taken on by Welsh star Jonathan Pryce. Instead, Cox played William Stryker opposite Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in 2003’s X2.
Cox, said of the film: “It would have been a money-spinner, but of all the parts in that film it was the most thankless, plus I would have ended up doing it for film after film and missed out on all the other nice things I’ve done.”
He also didn’t have anything nice to say about Depp. Cox confessed: “Another thing with Pirates of the Caribbean is that it’s very much the ‘Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow’ show, and Depp, personable though I’m sure he is, is so overblown, so overrated. I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t. And subsequently, he’s done even less.”
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The 75-year-old added that he didn’t think Disney would give the role of Jack Sparrow to Depp now. Cox explained: “People love [Depp]. Or they did love him. They don’t love him so much these days, of course. If Johnny Depp went for Jack Sparrow now, they’d give it to Brendan Gleeson. So no – no regrets about Pirates, I don’t think.”
This was a callback to a previous comment he made about being offered a spot in the Harry Potter series. He recalled: “I think the part I might have played was the one that Brendan Gleeson got, Mad-Eye Moody, but Brendan was more in fashion than I was at that point, and that’s very much the way of the world in my business, so he got it. Also, he’s much better than I would have been.”
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The British star, who is best known for appearing in such films as Manhunter, Braveheart, Churchill and the TV series Succession, also revealed how turning Pirates of the Caribbean down was a bad move for his career. Cox said: “The guy who directed Pirates was Gore Verbinski, with whom I made The Ring, and he’s a lovely chap but I think I blotted my copybook by turning down the Governor.”
The actor isn’t the only person to hit out at the Pirates of the Caribbean films in recent years.
Zoe Saldana, of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy fame, was not happy with how she was treated on set of the 2003 movie. Saldana played Anamaria, the film’s only female pirate. Although she had a few standout scenes, she later confessed: “Those weren’t the right people for me. I’m not talking about the cast. The cast was great. I’m talking about the political stuff that went on behind closed doors. It was a lot of above-the-line versus below-the-line, extras versus actors, producers versus PAs [personal assistants].”
The Pirates of the Caribbean films are available on Disney Plus now.
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