It's taken a while for Johnny Depp to unearth his own box office treasure in commercial hits such as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Back Pearl (2003) and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (2005). The actor had previously developed a reputation for choosing quirky, risky roles in films such as Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Now that the role of Captain Jack Sparrow has turned him into a household name, however, he's back for two more adventures in the two sequels Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007). Here, he talks about his joy at playing the role.
Did you ever think that the original Pirates of the Caribbean would be such a huge hit?
I had gotten used to the idea of never having a successful film. I was pretty comfy in that. It was a terrific shock. I'm still babbling over that.
Were you equally as surprised at how widely loved Jack Sparrow has become, in spite of his faults?
That was an enormous surprise as well. The fact that people took the character in and really supported me was a win-win situation, especially as some of the better-dressed people at Disney were having a difficult time with my interpretation of the character.
Did you need much convincing to come back for the sequels?
As long as there's a good script there, you're OK. I'd be happy to keep going with Captain Jack because I just very selfishly enjoy playing the character. I really love playing the guy, purely because it's fun and nothing more. There's no evil moment when you go into a back room and start counting money! It's never been about that for me. It's purely about playing the character. So if these guys wanted to continue on the same ride, if everything's in the right place, if the script and story was good, I'd stay on the ride, sure. The idea of a sequel felt totally normal to me. I was looking forward to it, just to be able to put the gear back on and become Captain Jack.
How did you come up with Jack Sparrow's distinct walk?
Jack's body language came from extreme heat. I locked myself in a sauna for a long period of time, which by the way I don't recommend! I thought that Jack was out on the open sea for long, long periods of time and he'd be subjected to the elements. What happens when you lock yourself in a very, very hot place is that it starts to affect the way you move. You get very uncomfortable and that's how Jack's movements were informed.
How was working with Bill Nighy (who plays the villain, Davy Jones)?
Bill is one of my all-time heroes and one of the finest actors around. I probably would have fallen over laughing had he been all tentacled up, but the fact is he was doing his work in a kind of glorified prison suit - this grey and black thing. It was fetching, but it was strange, with little ping-pong balls all over it. It was kind of fascinating to look at and it's probably that which kept me from giggling all the time.
Do you think those 'better-dressed people' at Disney greeted this film with some relief that you weren't any more 'out there' than last time out?
Well they haven't seen number three yet! Gore [Verbinski, director] and I were talking about this a couple of weeks ago and we said that if we're not making them really nervous, we're not doing our jobs properly.
Do you miss the characters you create?
Absolutely. Every time I get to spend time with these characters, there's always that certain point when the clock starts ticking and you know you'll have to say goodbye. And though it sounds horribly silly for a middle-aged man to admit, I do maybe go through a bizarre deep depression and you miss these guys, because you know you're never going to see them again in that capacity. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to Jack Sparrow - hint hint!
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 6th July 2006.