Jim Carrey, Captain Jack Sparrow? If you ask me, it doesn’t quite fit. But it was a situation that nearly unfolded over a decade ago. So if you’re wondering what we’re talking about here, comedian Jim Carrey was nearly Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl. So what happened?
When the first movie in the now seemingly endless Pirates of the Caribbean movies was released in 2003, it rejuvenated a genre that seemed long gone. Pirate and high seas movies were not usually a draw card for movie goers, and they were notoriously expensive to produce. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl changed all of that, and a lot of the credit for its success must go to Johnny Depp, AKA Jack Sparrow.
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There’s little argument that Johnny Depp owns the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. He revolutionized the image of the usual pirate in the movie, and showed the world that he was still a great actor. But it may never have been, because Disney wanted Jim Carrey for Jack Sparrow.
Back at the turn of the century, Jim Carrey was undoubtedly on a run of success. Beginning in 1994 with Ace Ventura, he had hit after hit after hit. Not only was he bringing in the audience, he was also gaining accolades as a great actor, winning two Golden Globes in a row for best actor. He had fast become an A grade bankable actor. Everything he touched turned to gold. Johnny Depp on the other hand, was seldom seen or heard of. To the unaware, his career was over. So it made sense for Disney to offer Jim Carrey Jack Sparrow. But it wasn’t to be.
Conflicts of schedules, you really just have to love them don’t you. This is what happened when Pirates of the Caribbean was going to be made. Jim Carrey turned down the role of Jack Sparrow because the scheduling conflicted with Bruce Almighty, one of his greatest ever hits to date. So it wasn’t all bad for Carrey in the end. He may have turned down an amazing role, and a chance to work with a genius like Geoffrey Rush, but he went on to star in a massively successful movie, and he also avoided many many sequels, something that he isn’t fond of. Plus, it worked out great for Depp also. The role revitalized his career, and he is once again a top billing actor.
But Jim Carrey wasn’t the only actor other considered for Captain Jack Sparrow. Among the other actors that Disney considered were Christopher Walken and Michael Keaton. Neither of these actors could have brought the role to life as Depp had, and I doubt that Walken’s strong New York accent would have fit the role so well either.
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