Legendary Actor Turned Down ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Because of Johnny Depp

in Movies

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

Credit: Disney

Legendary Scottish actor Brian Cox has revealed that he turned down a key role in the massive Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for a simple reason: he did not want to work with Johnny Depp.

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Credit: Disney

Brian Cox has been working in theater and film since the late 1960s and has not minced words pretty much that entire time. If anything, over time, the Emmy-winning actor has only become more outspoken and extremely direct about how and why he chooses the projects he works on.

For example, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Brian Cox mentioned that he had turned down the role of King Robert Baratheon in the era-defining HBO series Game of Thrones, which eventually went to actor Mark Eddy. According to Cox, he turned it down because the paycheck was too small and his character was killed off early.

brian cox as logan roy on succession
Credit: HBO

Related: Johnny Depp Confirms New Movie, Proving Himself to Disney

Similarly, he has elsewhere mentioned that he was in contention to portray Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter series but lost it to Brendan Gleeson (via Landmark Cinemas), allegedly because “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.” To his credit, he says that Gleeson portrayed the character better than he would have.

In that same Guardian interview, Brian Cox says that he was offered the part of Governor Weatherby Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), the father of lead character Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). The role eventually went to Jonathan Pryce, who would portray the character in two more Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Governor Swann (Jonathan Pryce) in Pirates of the Caribbean
Credit: Disney

According to Cox, he did not want the lucrative role because he did not find it artistically rewarding, saying, “It would have been a moneyspinner but, of all the parts in the film, it was the most thankless.”

But even more importantly, he says, “[Johnny] Depp, personable though I’m sure he is, is so overblown – I mean Edward Scissorhands! Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face makeup, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t.”

Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Related: Johnny Depp Co-Star Expected Him To Quit Acting Before ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

It seems that Brian Cox turned down the role pretty much because he felt that Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow were not worthy of his respect as an actor and that Depp’s now-iconic performance was overrated. Strong words.

It is also not as though Brian Cox is not willing to ever join a franchise. Many audiences would recognize him as Colonel William Stryker in X2 (2003), the X-Men movie often regarded as a high point of the series. It is doubtless a coincidence that it was released the same year as Johnny Depp first became Captain Jack Sparrow, but still amusing.

Brian Cox and Hugh Jackman in X-Men 2
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Would Brian Cox have been good in Pirates of the Caribbean? Is Johnny Depp really “overblown” as Captain Jack Sparrow? Tell us your scurvy thoughts in the comments below!

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