With Disney getting ready to launch the long-awaited next installment in their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, a new report offers details of franchise star Johnny Depp's bizarre behavior that often derailed the big-budget production. A new report citing unnamed sources from the set claim that the actor was constantly late, believed to be due to excessive drinking and conflicts with his then-wife, Amber Heard. While these details were never confirmed, both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney production chief Sean Bailey also spoke about the various production challenges in this report.
The Hollywood Reporter published an extensive report that largely deals with a lawsuit between the actor and his former team, but also sheds light on his behavior on the set of Pirates 5, which was shot in Australia between February and July 2015. Sources close to the production reveal stories about the actor's "excessive drinking, physical fights with Heard and constant lateness on set." This tardiness often caused extras to be waiting for hours for the actor to arrive. When asked about these difficulties on the set, producer Jerry Bruckheimer spoke about the media circus that was swirling around the actor.
"You've got to understand the kind of pressure Johnny was under in Australia. 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."
The action star's constant tardiness often left Jerry Bruckheimer, Sean Bailey and other executives and crew members to figure out what to do about his tardiness. One unidentified crew member said that the actor is, "not a morning person." It got to the point where they even had to send a production staffer to wait in an unmarked car outside the Coomera, Queensland compound that the actor had rented, to signal the production when he was actually awake. Here's what an unidentified production member had to say.
"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!' They even had a special code term, like 'The eagle has landed.' Johnny had no idea this was going on."
The star's alleged drinking got to a point that it lead to an argument between his ex-agent, Tracey Jacobs from UTA, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, while they were both waiting for him to arrive on set in the Gold Coast suburb of Helensvale. While Bruckheimer denies this argument ever took place, one production staffer detailed this exchange, while mentioning that, by the time he did get to set, Johnny Depp was very pleasant to work with.
"She went over to Jerry and said, 'You've got to do something! You're the producer.' He said, 'You do something. You're the agent.' Everyone was an innocent bystander watching this train wreck. But when Johnny came on set, he was charming, nice. He's yin and yang."
We reported in March 2015 that production was briefly shut down due to Johnny Depp's injury on the set. While some reports claim that the injury was the result of an alcohol-fueled marital dispute with Amber Heard, Jerry Bruckheimer said he has heard a few different versions of the story, which involve the actor getting his finger caught in either a car door or a sliding door. Still, production was only minimally impacted, with Disney production chief Sean Bailey offering this statement about the actor's commitment to this franchise.
"There were certainly days when our plans were challenged. But no one should underestimate Johnny's passion and commitment to this character and franchise."
While it remains to be seen how this drama and controversy might impact Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales at the box office, it seems the actor is putting his troubles in the rear-view mirror. Entertainment lawyer Marty Singer stating that he saw the actor on May 3, and that, "he's never looked better." That's certainly good news for Disney as we get closer to the May 26 release date for Pirates of the Caribbean 5.