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Johnny Depp won his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. The jury didn’t award Depp the $50 million he sought, and Heard needs to pay him $10.35 million instead of the $15 million the jury awarded, but the legal drama seems to be over. That means Depp can get back to what he does best — acting. Fans want to know if Depp is returning as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In a very unique way, he is. 

Johnny Depp attends the premiere of 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' at Disneyland in 2011. Depp returned as Jack Sparrow in a unique way following his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.
Johnny Depp attends the premiere of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ | Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies led to a change at Disneyland

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at California’s Disneyland opened in 1967, and the park has changed the ride several times over the years, as the Los Angeles Times reported

One of those changes happened in response to Depp’s Oscar-nominated performance in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The film opened in 2003, but the ride changed when the sequel hit theaters in 2006. As the Times wrote, the revamped ride included three new characters: Jack Sparrow, Davy Jones, and Captain Barbossa. Disneyland based those characters on actors Depp, Bill Nighy, and Geoffrey Rush, respectively. 

Now, 16 years later, the ride let Depp return as Jack Sparrow in a unique way.

The unique way Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow 

Of all the memorable Depp movies, the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks might be the most notable. The five-film franchise made him an international superstar.

He possibly lost out on millions of dollars when Disney dropped him from the sixth Pirates movie after Heard’s 2018 op-ed, but Depp is back as Captain Jack. Sort of.

Disneyland shut down the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in March 2022. Coincidentally, that was several weeks before the Depp vs. Heard trial started. The shutdown was strictly for maintenance purposes, as Deadline reported, but it also offered an opportunity for Disney to remove Captain Jack Sparrow from the ride if it wanted to.

The trial created some bad press, the kind that saw other Disney stars get fired for over the years. Yet when the ride reopened in July 2022, the animatronic Sparrow, which was created in Depp’s likeness, remained. Disney had every opportunity to erase Depp’s likeness from the ride and chose not to. That doesn’t mean that Depp will give the film character a proper goodbye in a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean film, but it shows Disney isn’t closing the door in his face, either.

Whether or not Disney casts Depp in the next Pirates movie — or if the actor follows the reasons not to return to the role — he’ll always be immortalized in several spots on one of the most popular Disneyland rides. 

Depp won’t be going back to Disney with his next movie

Even though Depp ostensibly won his trial vs. Heard, getting his career back in full stride might take some time. Going back to Disney and returning as Jack Sparrow in more Pirates movies isn’t in the cards quite yet.


Johnny Depp Said Disney Initially Hated His Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and Put a Limit on Number of ‘Dangly Bits’

Depp’s first movie after the trial is the planned French film Jeanne du Barry, which sees him star as King Louis XV, according to his IMDb profile. It tells the story of a peasant who rises to become a mistress of the French king.

The movie also stars Maïwenn (the Diva in The Fifth Element) in the title role, Louis Garrel, Pierre Richard, and Noémie Lvovsky. Maïwenn directs, and Why Not Productions is financing. The small cast and sparse information aren’t accidents. The movie is still in pre-production with no release date in sight, but Why Not is still trying to get it made. 

Depp is also set to voice Johnny Puff in the Puffins TV series. It’s a return to a role he first played in the Puffins Impossible series starting in 2021. Whether Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow on the screen remains to be seen.

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