Johnny Depp's Return to Pirates of the Caribbean Franchise Debunked in New Report

A new report sheds light on Johnny Depp's potential return to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, following the actor's controversial legal battle with his ex-wife Amber Heard. Recent rumors seemed to suggest that Depp was in the process of securing a $301 million deal to return as Captain Jack Sparrow, a role he portrayed across five films in the franchise. The rumor, which originated from PopTopic, alleged that "Disney is very interested in patching up their relationship with Johnny Depp" and that "they are very hopeful that Johnny will forgive them and return as his iconic character." A new report from NBC News has since debunked those claims, with a representative for Depp telling the outlet that "This is made up."

Depp most recently portrayed Jack Sparrow in 2017's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the question whether or not he will further reprise his role has essentially been debated about ever since, amid the ever-growing number of controversies that have surrounded the actor. During the recent court case involving Depp and Heard, in which he sued her for $50 million after she published an op-ed accusing him of abuse, the topic of the Pirates franchise came up quite a bit, with Depp testifying that he had initially wanted a "proper goodbye" for the character, but that he would turn down the opportunity to return now.

"My feeling was that these characters should be able to have their proper goodbye," Depp testified. "There's a way to end a franchise like that....I planned on continuing until it was time to stop."

A new Pirates film has been in development since 2018, with Margot Robbie attached to star and Christina Hodson penning the script since 2020. The film would hypothetically be a "soft reboot" of the franchise, with Disney reportedly having "balked" at the idea of Depp potentially coming back for a cameo appearance.

Depp and Heard's legal troubles have gone on for several years now, after Heard divorced the actor and obtained a temporary restraining order from him in May of 2016. Their relationship was also the driving force behind a previous libel lawsuit that Depp filed against the British tabloid The Sun, after the publication referred to Depp as a "wife-beater" in a 2018 article. Depp went on to lose both the initial suit and the subsequent appeal, and resigned from his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise just days later. In the aforementioned 2018 article in The Washington Post, Heard spoke about how her comments surrounding domestic and sexual violence have negatively impacted her role in the entertainment industry, particularly with efforts to blacklist her. 

"Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted," Heard wrote at the time. "A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me."

Depp has previously argued that the legal drama has led to him being "cancelled" by the entertainment industry. The actor currently has two new movies in the works.

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"It can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted, this cancel culture, this instant rush to judgement based on what essentially amounts to polluted air," Depp claimed in a 2021 interview. "It's so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe. It takes one sentence and there's no more ground, the carpet has been pulled. It's not just me that this has happened to, it's happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men. Sadly at a certain point they begin to think that it's normal. Or that it's them. When it's not."

"It doesn't matter if a judgement, per se, has taken some artistic license," Depp continued. "When there's an injustice, whether it's against you or someone you love, or someone you believe in – stand up, don't sit down. 'Cause they need you."