Jim Carrey Has a Long History of Losing Roles to Johnny Depp

Actor Jim Carrey shot to fame in the 1990s, ultimately becoming the Tom Hanks of the Golden Globe Awards. But Carrey definitely wasn’t an overnight success. Carrey began performing stand-up comedy while still a teenager and began acting just a few years later. Yet even after he became a household name, Carrey continually lost prime roles to none other than Johnny Depp. Here are a few of the movies Carrey lost to the Pirates of the Caribbean star.

Jim Carrey makes a funny face and points to his temple in a Hawaiian shirt
Jim Carrey | Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma

Jim Carrey was still on the rise in the early 1990s

As most fans know, Carrey didn’t officially become a movie star until 1994. That year, he headlined a trio of box office hits: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. Prior to that, Carrey’s biggest claim to fame was Fox’s popular sketch comedy series In Living Color. But before he began on that show, the actor was reportedly in the running for Tim Burton’s 1990 classic Edward Scissorhands.

According to Vulture, Carrey was one of several actors Burton considered for the title role. That list included such hot stars as Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. However, in the end, Burton chose Depp to play Edward Scissorhands. And that movie kicked off a long collaborative relationship between the director and star. Over the next 22 years, Depp would star in another seven Burton films, most recently 2012’s Dark Shadows.

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‘Edward Scissorhands’ wasn’t the last time Burton chose Johnny Depp

At a certain point, fans were no longer surprised when Burton continued to cast Depp in most of his movies. But even so, the director often first entertained the idea of going in a different direction. For Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for instance, Burton considered bringing Carrey in as eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. And it’s easy to see how the actor’s manic energy could have brought a unique spin to the role Gene Wilder first made famous.

However, Depp again bested Carrey. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory earned $475 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Still, Depp’s performance has proven divisive with fans and critics. And the movie’s legacy is complicated by the enduring love for the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which starred Wilder. Fans can only imagine how Carry would have transformed Burton’s version into a very different movie.

Jim Carrey could have played Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

Perhaps the most intriguing “what if” with regards to Carrey and Depp is that the former was among those actors considered for Jack Sparrow. That character, of course, debuted in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. And Depp’s performance provided him with the career boost needed to finally graduate from underrated talent to A-list star. He would reprise the role in four sequels over the next 14 years.

Considering how much of what makes Jack Sparrow work was Depp’s own idea, it’s hard to imagine Carrey pulling it off in the same way. His take on Jack Sparrow would likely have been far more comedic, whereas Depp manages to toe the line between playing the fool and a classic swashbuckling hero. In any case, Carrey starred in another 2003 hit, Bruce Almighty, and currently headlines the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise as the over-the-top Dr. Robotnik.

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