Actors Who Almost Played Captain Jack Sparrow Before Johnny Depp

One of Johnny Depp’s most iconic roles was Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but who else came close to leading the Black Pearl?

Johnny Depp has had many iconic roles throughout his career, including his collaborations with director Tim Burton. Although one of his most memorable roles, and arguably his best, was Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film series based on the eponymous Disney theme park rides. The film franchise has featured dominating names in the theater industry over their years, like Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. They were among the most expensive movies ever made, but they made up for it with huge box office hits for every installment.

Depp began his tenure as Jack in 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, but he was only one of the suitors for the now well-known pirate. With a role as memorable as Jack Sparrow, it’s hard to imagine anyone else as captain of the Black Pearl.


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It’s unclear if Michael Keaton auditioned for the role.


Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne

Michael Keaton was one of the first actors considered for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Some of its most iconic characters include Bruce Wayne/Batman in the 1989 film Batman and Betelgeuse in Tim Burton’s 1988 film Beetle juice. It is unknown if Keaton auditioned for the role of Jack.

Jim Carrey recently announced his retirement


Jim Carrey in Liar Liar

Jim Carrey was by far the closest person to landing the role. The iconic comic actor known for The mask and Ace Ventura: pet detective, along with many other films, actually turned down the role. Carrey had a conflicting schedule between Pirates of the Caribbean and his 2003 film Almighty Bruce, so he was unable to commit to both projects. Unfortunately, the actor recently announced his retirement from acting.


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Hugh Jackman wasn’t quite a big enough star yet


Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine (2013)

Hugh Jackman was the first choice for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. At the time, the future The greatest showman the star had only played the role of Wolverine in the first x-men film and various Broadway productions. Apparently Disney didn’t think Jackman was already a big enough name in the film industry to take on the role.

Matthew McConaughey’s resemblance to Burt Lancaster sparked Disney’s interest


Matthew McConaughey in Lincoln's Advocate

Matthew McConaughey was also considered for the role of Jack Sparrow. McConaughey knew his breakthrough role in the 1993 comedy Dazed and confused, and won Best Actor for his lead role in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. He was considered for Pirates of the Caribbean payable to his resemblance to Burt Lancasteranother classic of pirate cinema.


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Christopher Walken was another early suitor


pulpfiction christopher walken flashback watch the scene

Another early contender for the titular role was Christopher Walken. However, it is unknown if he auditioned for the role. Walken won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1978 war film deer hunter, and later appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film pulp Fiction as Captain Koons.

Rik Mayall scenes were cut from Harry Potter


comedian Rik Mayall

Another potential actor to play Captain Jack Sparrow is rumored to be Rik Mayall. The late stand-up comedian appeared in numerous sitcoms during his career, as well as the role of ghost Peeves in Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone. Although all of his footage was cut before the film’s premiere.


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Cary Elwes was also among the many potential actors to play Jack Sparrow.


Dr. Lawrence Gordon Cary Elwes

Cary Elwes is best known for his starring role as Westley in the classic 1987 film The princess to be married. The future stranger things and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the star was also among the many names considered play Jack Sparrow. However, it is unknown if Elwes actually auditioned for the role.

Robert De Niro had no hope for Pirates of the Caribbean


Besides Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro was another actor who actually turned down the role. When Martin Scorsese’s frequent collaborator first read Pirates of the Caribbean scenario, he did not believe films would succeed financially. The franchise has hugely proven De Niro wrong with his massive box office hits.


Although it’s a good thing he turned down the role due to De Niro’s tendency to play tough gangster characters. Depp was arguably the best choice to play the comedic pirate, and no one else would have done it so easily.

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