Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is mere weeks away, and Disney is terrified - not about whether or not the film will do well, but about star Johnny Depp’s sinking public image.
In a lengthy Hollywood Reporter article about Depp’s legal troubles with his former managers (he sued the managers for misappropriation of funds, and got countersued with a flurry of explosive details about his lavish lifestyle), Depp’s antics on the sets of the fifth Pirates movie are detailed.
“You’ve got to understand the kind of pressure Johnny was under in Australia,” says producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “At times helicopters would follow him home. There would be so many media outside his gates that trucks were feeding them. There was so much stuff made up about him: that Johnny had a fight on set and had gone back to the States, which we both read about while we were in his trailer.”
Despite Bruckheimer’s defence, sources close to the production told THR that Depp’s excessive drinking, physical fights with (ex-wife Amber) Heard and constant lateness on set, often left hundreds of extras waiting for hours at a time. Often, the report says, Bruckheimer and a team of executives would huddle together to formulate plans of how to deal with the star’s behaviour.
“There were certainly days when our plans were challenged,” says production chief Sean Bailey. “But no one should underestimate Johnny’s passion and commitment to this character and franchise.”
Often, sources say, a production staffer was stationed in an unmarked car outside the Coomera, Queensland, compound that Depp was living in, and would alert the crew the moment the first light had been switched on.
“When he got up, he’d turn on the light, and the moment the light went on they’d call the line producer, who would then call the directors (Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg): ‘He’s up! He’s getting ready!’ “ says an on-set source. “They even had a special code term, like ‘The eagle has landed.’ Johnny had no idea this was going on.”
Filming shut down at one point when Depp injured his finger “That was pretty serious,” says Bruckheimer. But he won’t confirm if the injury was due to a marital argument. “We don’t really know. He got it caught in a car door, or he got it caught in a sliding door. I’ve heard a couple of versions.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge opens on May 26.
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