The future of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise may be lost at sea.
Disney has been in the process of developing two different scripts, both of which are assumingly without Johnny Depp returning as Captain Jack Sparrow, and many fans have wondered what the future may hold for the beloved franchise.
Some fans remain steadfast that any Pirates of the Caribbean without Johnny Depp is a waste from Disney. Others have said they’re open to seeing what Disney could put together, but they’re not sold it will be good with Depp in his role as Captain Jack Sparrow.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there are certain things that Disney must address when moving forward. The company reportedly turned its back on Johnny Depp before the defamation trial with Amber Heard even took place and, now, even several months after Depp’s court proceedings have ended, it seems that Disney– and all major studios in Hollywood, for that matter– aren’t planning to be working with Johnny Depp anytime soon.
If Depp is truly gone from the franchise, here’s a look at the candidates who have had the most discussion to replace him.
1. Margot Robbie
Let’s start with the most obvious name. Both Margot Robbie and POTC Producer Jerry Bruckheimer have already admitted that a script was being developed that had Robbie as the lead character.
Robbie, best known for her work in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), I, Tonya (2017), Suicide Squad (2016), and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020), will see her new blockbuster Barbie (2023) released in theaters later this year.
Though there were reports in the spring of 2022 that Disney was moving forward with the script, Robbie unveiled in later comments that they were seemingly “canceled.”
“We had an idea and we were developing it for a while, ages ago, to have more of a female-led—not totally female-led, but just a different kind of story—which we thought would’ve been really cool,” Robbie said in a previous interview, “But I guess they don’t want to do it.”
While many took these comments to mean that the movie had been canceled entirely and that Disney was moving forward with another script, Jerry Bruckheimer explained that there were still talks about doing the movie at a later time, but it most likely wouldn’t be what we see for Pirates of the Caribbean 6.
“I think that that script will come forward at a certain point,” Bruckheimer said. “We developed two different stories for ‘Pirates’ and the other one’s going forward first, so that’s what we’re working on, to try to get that one made.”
With Bruckheimer admitting that Disney is prioritizing other movies right now other than the script developed for Margot Robbie, it stands to reason that we’ll see one of the other actors or actresses listed below take on the lead in the next installment of the franchise.
2. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom
Perhaps the only script that could make sense to replace Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean would be one that explores the relationship between Elizabeth Swann Turner (Keira Knightley) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom), with their son Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites).
Both Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom played roles in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Cure of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), and they both made appearances in the fifth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), meaning the only film their characters did not appear in was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011).
If you don’t recall the ending of the last Pirates film, we finally saw the curse that Will Turner was freed from the curse and was reunited with his family after almost 20 years when his son Henry broke the Trident of Poseidon. However, as Will and Elizabeth slept at night, there was an eery shadow that made its way into their room.
It seems entirely possible– and almost expected– that if Disney was going to move away from Johnny Depp, it would build on what we last saw in the final film. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom could carry a film and, should this happen, a film that features the Turner family facing an adventure together makes sense. This type of film could also answer questions that fans have about the couple in the fourth film and what their life was like for the years that Will served on the Dutchman.
3. Dwayne Johnson
The most notable name to be rumored to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been Dwayne Johnson. There have been multiple reports that Johnson has been in talks with Disney to take on a role in the future of the franchise.
Several outlets have reported that Dwayne Johnson could be an integral part of the franchise in the future. Johnson has a great relationship with Disney. Dwayne Johnson got his start with The Walt Disney Company when he signed on to star in the film The Gameplan (2007) alongside child star Madison Pettis. He would also star in Race to Witch Mountain (2009) just two years later before a period of almost a decade would occur without him starring in a Disney film.
Of course, he returned to Disney to be the voice of Maui in the beloved Disney Animations Studios film Moana (2018) and then played the role of Skipper Frank Wolff in Disney’s Jungle Cruise (2021) alongside Emily Blunt (Lily Houghton) and Jack Whitehall (McGregor Houghton).
While there have been rumors of Johnson returning for a Jungle Cruise sequel, it would be interesting to see what kind of character Disney could dream up for him to play in the Pirates of the Caribbean world.
Could it be possible that Johnson plays the villain against Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley? Is he the charismatic hero to help the couple finally break another curse plaguing them? Or, is it possible that Dwayne Johnson stars in his own film and creates his own character who could possibly even be a complementary piece to Johnny Depp in the future, if the actor was ever to reunite with Disney.
4. Dylan O’Brien
In addition to the big headliners that we’ve heard, there are also a couple more interesting names that have been thrown into discussions.
A previous report from Starte Facts indicates that Disney may be reaching out to Dylan O’Brien to potentially “revive” the franchise. O’Brien is known for his role in MTV’s Teen Wolf, as well as the Maze Runner franchise.
“However, as much as fans loved the movies, Pirates of the Caribbean had seen a steady decline from the release of its first movie; with the last movie they released grossing the lowest of them all. There were several factors to blame for the slow downfall of the franchise, this included a lack of clarity in the plot of the movie that made them hard to tie together and left big plot holes that viewers couldn’t ignore.”
If Disney is looking to go in a different direction with a younger cast, O’Brien is one of the “hotter” names who could potentially be involved.
He has shown that he can carry a successful franchise with the right pieces around him and while it would be interesting to see what the Maze Runner actor would look like placed in a “pirate role” in the 1700s, it something that Disney could potentially make work.
Of course, this decision would be met with much skepticism and– if Johnny Depp isn’t going to be involved– it would likely be hard to convince a fanbase that is already upset about decisions that this is a move in the right direction.
5. Maya Hawke
The other actress on the “younger side” who has been rumored to be in talks for the franchise is Maya Hawke.
Maya Hawke, best known for her role as Robin Buckley in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, has been pegged as another star who could potentially be used to revive the franchise.
Hawke is the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, and has played roles in several other films, including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) and Do Revenge (2022), but nothing would be bigger than landing a role in Disney’s premiere franchise.
If this is the case, it might be a situation where Hawke could potentially join O’Brien to bring a younger cast to the franchise.
However, just as we said with O’Brien, this decision would not likely be received well by Disney fans. While O’Brien and Hawke have great talent, they aren’t “household names” who will give the same “star power” that fans are wanting to see from a Johnny Depp replacement.
Some fans won’t be happy no matter what Disney decides if Johnny Depp isn’t a part of the plans– and that’s absolutely understandable– but others might be open to at least watching the movie if the right stars are involved with an intriguing story.
At this point, however, Disney has not confirmed its plans and most insiders believe the company hasn’t made its final decision on what direction it wants to go with the franchise, if a sixth film even comes to fruition.
Who do you think is the most likely replacement for Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean 6? Let us know in the comments!