Johnny Depp Explained Why His ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Jack Sparrow Prank Was a Total Fail

Johnny Depp once tried to prank guests aboard Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride and, according to the actor, it didn’t go quite how he hoped. Depp explained that, much to his surprise, being decked out in his full Jack Sparrow costume and trying to scare everyone kind of backfired.

Johnny Depp greets fans in costume as Jack Sparrow after after a day of filming 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow | Peter Wallis/Newspix/Getty Images

Johnny Depp’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ prank wasn’t as successful as he expected

During a 2017 appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Depp shared the details of his Pirates of the Caribbean Disneyland ride prank gone wrong. It seems guests on the ride didn’t find Depp’s presence all that surprising — because they thought he was animatronic.

Norton asked about Depp’s appearance in costume at Disneyland. “That must have caused a sensation,” he said.

Depp recalled how he was hoping to give people a scare. “I did something that … as soon as Pirates was gonna happen, I thought, how great would it be to be able to have the opportunity to stand there as some sort of animatronic until the people come by?” he said.

Depp continued, “And then you start screaming and then, you know, scare them… All these years later I got the chance to do it so I was very excited. These boats were gonna come around the corner and they just sort of looked at me as they were coming around and I’m frozen and I went, ‘Oy, what are you looking at?’”

The reaction was pretty lackluster. “And then … nothing back,” Depp said. “You know what I got? All of the iPhones in the world going, ‘Wow, well that’s a pretty good animatronic, actually’… It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Johnny Depp shared the inspiration for his ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ character

In a 2012 interview with IGN, Depp gave some insight into how he shaped the character of Jack Sparrow. “I start getting like waves of images or ideas and I start making notes immediately,” he shared. “It starts like right away for me, when reading the script. It really has to do with, ‘This is interesting, this I think I can add something to. This is something that’s a challenge.’”

Depp famously drew inspiration from Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards. “I started trying to figure out pirates of the 18th century, and sort of what it was all about,” the actor said. “Initially you think money, and all that. I think it also had much more to do with freedom. To be out there, moving forward.”

The actor said pirates were “the rock and roll stars of the 18th century” so he connected the dots to “the coolest rock and roll star of all time” — Keith Richards.

Surprisingly, Depp also found inspiration in cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew. “What I loved about Pepe Le Pew was this guy who was absolutely convinced that he’s a great ladies’ man. And he’s a skunk,” the actor said. “Watching those cartoons, this guy falls in love, deeply falling in love with this cat. The cat clearly despises him .. I always loved a character like that, just blinders no matter what the actual reality is happening around him.”

He added, “This guy sees only what he wants to see. Pepe Le Pew was the kind of character who always was able to run between the rain drops. He’d just always make it through.”

Depp shared the ‘depression’ he experienced after playing Jack Sparrow

Depp also said it was challenging to end his time playing the character because he loved being Jack Sparrow.

“I really loved being the character so much so that at the end of the film, when they wrapped the end of the film — and this has happened to me before — you go through a sort of a decompression, and a depression where you feel like, ‘God, I’ve just been this other guy for six months or seven months. I’ll never see him again,’” he shared.

Depp isn’t into the method acting approach but, nevertheless, felt a loss when he was done with filming. “Just, knowing someone so well and having played them, having them be second nature, it just happens naturally,” he explained. “It’s very foreign to the body to stop doing it.”

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