The first installment of Pirates of the Caribbean hit the big screen in 2003, and since then, the franchise has produced five feature-length films. These movies have loads of behind-the-scenes tales and interpersonal antics that - to quote William Turner - straddle a fine line between madness and brilliance.
As one of the highest-grossing films of all time - earning $4.5 billion worldwide - Pirates has become a pop-culture institution to rival Star Wars or Indiana Jones. The five-part movie series is so beloved that Disneyland even incorporated animatronics of Jack Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, and Davy Jones into the eponymous boat ride that inspired the series. Here are some behind-the-scenes stories from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Johnny Depp’s wild portrayal as the colorful, slurring Jack Sparrow may be one of the most memorable movie characters of all time, but it wasn’t so popular with studio head Michael Eisner at the outset.
According to Depp, the actor “fully expected to get fired” when he got a call from a Disney executive asking him “What the f*ck are you doing? Is it drunk?” in reference to Sparrow’s outlandish demeanor. Depp went on to claim that the studio nearly put subtitles on the screen for Sparrow's lines, though they eventually decided against the idea.
Keira Knightley first appeared as Elizabeth Swann at the age of 17.
She starred alongside Johnny Depp - who was 40 years old and already famous at the time - leading Knightley to share later on that “it took many years of therapy” to overcome the trauma of becoming wildly famous overnight at such a young age.
For most Pirates fans, imagining anyone besides Johnny Depp in the role of Jack Sparrow is practically impossible. Somewhat surprising, then, is the fact that Depp wasn’t the actor originally intended for the role.
Australian screenwriter Stuart Beattie spilled the news that Jack Sparrow was named after - and imagined for - actor Hugh Jackman. Jackman was a well-known actor in his home country of Australia at the time, but Jackman’s lack of international renown led Disney to pass on him as the first film's leading swashbuckler.
When you think of legendary rock bands, the Rolling Stones are bound to be near the top of the list. Depp certainly seemed to think so when he sought out inspiration for crafting Jack Sparrow. He imagined pirates to be the rock legends of the 18th century and Keith Richards to be “the coolest rock-and-roll star of all time... Hands down.” Richards even made a cameo as Captain Teague in the third installment, At World’s End.
Another inspiration for Depp's character came from Looney Tunes's infamous skunk, Pepé Le Pew, who has “blinders no matter what the actual reality is” and who is “the kind of character who always was able to run between the raindrops. He'd just always make it through."