Writer Says Dead Men Tell No Tales Had A Female Villain … Until Johnny Depp Made Them Change It

Writer Says Dead Men Tell No Tales Had A Female Villain … Until Johnny Depp Made Them Change It

Image: Disney

For Oscar-nominated actor Johnny Depp, female villains are like the Highlander … apparently, there can be only one.

A 2016 blog post from Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriter Terry Rossio (recently discovered by MoviePilot) has shed some light on some production weirdness with the latest film, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Rossio, who worked on the previous Pirates films, wrote a plot for the fifth film back in 2011. It was ultimately rejected, with Jeff Nathanson coming on to pen the film instead — along with Depp, who collaborated on the script.

In one section of Rossio’s detailed blog about the trials of working in Hollywood, aptly called “World Creation Subject to Whim Destruction,” Rossio revealed that it was actually Depp’s decision to reject his story. And why was this first version of Dead Men Tale No Tales scrapped? Because it had a female villain — and according to Depp, one of those is enough for him.

“My version of Dead Men Tell No Tales was set aside because it featured a female villain, and Johnny Depp was worried that would be redundant to Dark Shadows, which also featured a female villain,” Rossio wrote. “Sometimes it just takes a single decision by a single person, often just a whim, to destroy years of story creation and world-building.”

Granted, Javier Bardem is a great actor, but it seems so misguided and insulting that Depp would reject a female villain solely because he’d already faced one in one other movie. He’s fought countless male villains across several films, and not once has he complained that “yeah, one evil dude is enough, maybe let’s tone it down on the Y-chromosome baddies.” The series already has enough issues with female representation, with the latest film only having one notable female character, played by Kaya Scodelario. This harms way more than it helps.

The whole thing comes off as incredibly sexist, and another example of Disney making questionable decisions to keep Depp happy, solely for the sake of keeping Captain Jack Sparrow alive. Let’s not forget that, according to his ex-manager, he doesn’t even bother learning his lines anymore.

Jessica Chastain is all of us right now.


  • I thought we cancelled Johnny Depp before his spousal abuse became public knowledge. Perhaps his actual reasoning was Amber Heard was already enough female villain for him at the time. Because how dare she not like being slapped.

    • for someone who was so adamant that he was a wife beater, she sure settled out of court quickly. Guess she had nothing to prove!

      • Maybe she chose to grab some money and get the hell out instead of being dragged through a lengthy court case and Hollywood press…

      • The guy seems a bit unhinged. I would take the money and run rather than have my private life dragged through the mud by lawyers with an unlimited budget.

  • He sounds like a bit of a dick to work with in general. Turning up to set hours after everyone else did so they are all just sitting around waiting for him before they can start filming.

  • When are these media outlets going to stop circulating garbage about Depp like the “doesn’t learn his lines” thing? Come correct or leave it alone.

  • Depps a dick and this series has been subpar since part 2… so honestly, no major loss. There’s bigger franchises where tentpole roles are now going to a more diverse range of people, this isn’t really one to worry about.

  • This kind of thing does seriously suck. Regardless of one’s gender, all it takes is ONE person to derail a massive project, creating huge delays, setbacks and completely changing the direction often for worse. This has unfortunately happened to me in my line of work.

    As for Johnny Depp… bloody hell. I guess that’s the shitty thing about “showbiz”, when you’ve got big movie stars in the movie, essentially a key to a franchise (Johnny Depp is Captain Jack Sparrow, after all) then they can honestly do (or they feel like they can do) whatever they want.

    Christian Bale did something similar for Terminator: Salvation, e.g. he was supposed to be another character, but complained because he wanted to play John Connor, which required re-writing, re-casting etc.

    I’m really disappointed by Johnny Depp. I thought he was really cool until… all this happened (not this movie thing, but the uh, wife beating, being a huge dick thing). :/

  • Well it is a pirate movie set in a time period when most women either weren’t pirates or hid themselves as men to be pirates…

    I know Depp’s a dick but just saying…

  • *Sigh* I feel like certain random accusations are considered more legitimate than others because they allow you to create an issue out of them. What makes this any more news than anything anyone in Hollywood says without any evidence? Because it involves a movie coming out soon we were already sure was going to suck? I always wanted it rebooted with Elizabeth as the protagonist and felt like Sparrow has trouble carrying the drama but I’m not going to bend over backwards and even consider a bunch of conjecture just because it fits my existing view, when basically, a lot of people sling shit in Hollywood and it’s naive we can assume to constantly see the truth and it just so happens to always fit our ideals.

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