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Johnny Depp Reportedly Nixed a Female Villain for Pirates 5 Because He Thought It Would Be “Redundant”

Warning: Hypocrisy rage inside.


I haven’t given much thought to the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales because 1. I think I’ve reached the end of my own personal ability to care about Johnny Depp, and 2. This franchise has been on a roll of declining quality since the start and I see no indication that they plan to deviate from that trend. By the time a franchise gets to its fifth installment, they have to work really hard not to be just completely redundant. Apparently, that’s something Johnny Depp is aware of. Unfortunately, his idea for how to fix the problem is pretty infuriating.

Terry Rossio, who wrote the screenplays for the first four POTC movies, wrote a blog post on some of the “time risk” obstacles writers in Hollywood face, in writing vs. the hustle of actually getting movies made. It’s an interesting, informative (though, warning, extremely lengthy) read for anyone with an interest in screenwriting, full of anecdotes from a life in the industry.

One such anecdote, which he drops around the middle of the post, explains why he was not brought on to write the latest Pirates movie. (Or at least, what he was told.)

“My version of Dead Men Tell No Tales was set aside because it featured a female villain,” he writes, “and Johnny Depp was worried that would be redundant to Dark Shadows, which also featured a female villain.”

This is why when people point to a female character or creator in Hollywood as a sign that the entertainment industry doesn’t have a sexism problem, the rest of us cry “bullshit.” Because sure, Dark Shadows had a female villain! What great strides for women characters, right?

But because of that one project, Johnny Depp thought it would be “redundant” to act opposite another female antagonist, in an unrelated franchise, on a movie that was to come out HALF A DECADE LATER. (I’m not sure when Depp read the script for POTC5, since these movies take years to make, but even if he read it in 2012 when Dark Shadows came out, he had to have known that years would pass before its release.)

I’m all for putting Javier Bardem and Geoffrey Rush (the villains in the new Pirates) in as many movies as possible. They’re both fantastic actors. (And, honestly, they deserve way better than this.) But women in Hollywood are relegated to such a niche, marginalized position that letting more than one a decade play something other than a love interest is viewed as “redundant,” and audiences shouldn’t be accepting that as even the slightest bit tolerable.

(via IndieWire, image: Disney)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.