Pirates of the Caribbean's Jack Sparrow, Will, and Barbossa Were to Be Played by Completely Different Actors
The iconic Pirates characters were supposed to be portrayed by other legendary actors who rejected the roles because they didn’t believe in the franchise. But we have no regrets.
- Pirates of the Caribbean has a great cast, but most actors were not the first picks for their characters.
- Both Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom had serious big-name competitions.
- Geoffrey Rush booked the role of Barbossa only after Robert De Niro rejected it.
Pirates of the Caribbean is undoubtedly one of the most popular and beloved movie franchises in the world and the jewel in Disney ’s golden crown. Over the years, Pirates grew from an experimental film no one expected too much from into a massive and infinitely rich franchise with movies, spin-offs, and side products.
Most performances in the Pirates of the Caribbean films are now considered iconic, but truth be told, most actors we saw in the final product were not the first picks for their characters. Captain Barbossa, Jack Sparrow, and Will were all supposed to be played by different actors who rejected their offers for various reasons.
Primarily, because no one really believed that Pirates of the Caribbean would succeed. At the time, all pirate movies had only one fate: complete and utter failure.
Who Was Supposed to Play Captain Jack Sparrow?
We can’t imagine anyone but Johnny Depp playing legendary Captain Jack Sparrow today, but when the franchise was only beginning, he was far from the first pick. In fact, a handful of even more big-name actors were thrown into the short list of preferred actors, and Depp only booked the gig after most of them refused the job.
Matthew McConaughey, Cary Elwes, Christopher Walken, Michael Keaton, Jim Carrey, and Hugh Jackman were all considered for the part of Captain Jack Sparrow. Many of them declined the offer; others, like Jackman, were considered too immature (this was before X-Men). After trial and error, the team settled on Depp.
Who Was Supposed to Play Captain Barbossa?
The on-again, off-again rival or ally of Jack and his crew, Captain Barbossa has always been a prominent figure in Pirates of the Caribbean. Geoffrey Rush nailed the grumpy, unsettling, yet funny character of Barbossa perfectly well, but he wasn’t the first pick for this gig, either. He only came around after one star actor rejected it.
The Pirates of the Caribbean team wanted none other than Robert De Niro as Captain Barbossa — and we can definitely see why. But, like most other big-name actors we mentioned, De Niro didn’t see Pirates succeeding and thought of it as just another failed attempt at reviving pirates movies, so Rush took over the role.
Who Was Supposed to Play Will Turner?
At the beginning of the franchise, Will Turner was the main character while Captain Jack Sparrow was merely his trickster. That changed later, of course, but when Pirates of the Caribbean was just starting out, the part of Will was considered the primary — and though it made him famous, Orlando Bloom was not the first choice.
Many big names were considered for this bit. Tobey Maguire, Jude Law, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Tom Hiddleston were all potential Will Turners. Some of them rejected the gig; some (ahem, Hiddleston, ahem) showed up drunk for the audition. Orlando Bloom booked the role in the end as he was the most prepared.
Despite so many core actors not being the first picks, we can all agree that the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean turned out brilliantly. There are reasons why this franchise became so great, and the genius of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Orlando Bloom was definitely one of the crucial components for Pirates’ success.