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Before Mads Mikkelsen, Keanu Reeves Stole $1.7B Franchise From Johnny Depp That Led to Actor Getting His Part in The Pirates of the Caribbean

johnny depp mads mikkelsen keanu reeves

The last half a decade hasn’t been kind to Johnny Depp. For the industry, his defamation trial has been one of the most humiliating sagas being dragged out into the public and one that has occupied the popular culture’s attention for way longer than necessary. Needless to say, the allegations of abuse and domestic violence levied against the actor by his former wife, Amber Heard, led to Depp’s resignation from his roles at the Disney and WB franchises.

Now, almost a year after the Fairfax trial, the industry looks back at the career of the actor, who up until 2018, had been such a mass favorite and had contributed extensively to the industry.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Also read: “I don’t want to be the alien movie guy”: Will Smith Refused The Matrix After Independence Day, Lost Out on Millions That Made Keanu Reeves Hollywood’s Heartthrob

Keanu Reeves Takes Over Johnny Depp For The Matrix Role

Over two decades ago, a masterpiece was born into the world of science fiction filmography. Conceived by the Wachowski sisters, the visionary and ambitious blueprint of The Matrix strived to establish a new world order in the industry of film and television, and it succeeded in doing so too. For years, the debate that was started by Keanu Reeves’ film has occupied mainstream consciousness and given rise to arguments about the Matrix theory, an intellectual thesis that also often finds an application in the field of criminal defense.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix

Also read: “Suddenly it became a challenge”: Keanu Reeves Was Refused Three Times By Al Pacino Before Becoming Global Phenomenon With Matrix Franchise

Interestingly enough, the franchise that catapulted Keanu Reeves to such a global spotlight was originally offered to Johnny Depp. Despite other relatively well-known actors being in the race, Depp’s reputation in the ’90s essentially meant that he was the first and most favored choice for the Wachowskis. For whatever reason, however, the Pirates actor turned down the role of Neo, eventually leading to Reeves getting the part, and him moving on to find a home among pirates and monsters at Disney.

Johnny Depp’s Lost Career in Hollywood: 1990s to 2018

Johnny Depp was one of the most beloved and talented actors of his generation. The ’90s first gave him the space to creatively flourish, and a time of success and fame followed soon after that led the abandoned and neglected child inside him to find joy and acceptance in the throes of Hollywood glory. His rollercoaster saga and descent into addiction and substance abuse during the mid-90s then became a habit that wouldn’t leave his company for the foreseeable future.

Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 1
Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts

Also read: The Rock Allegedly Replacing Johnny Depp in Pirates 6 Already Has Insane Fan Support: ‘Jungle Cruise is Pirates of the Caribbean With Dwayne Johnson’

Ironically enough, it was never addiction that led to Johnny Depp’s downfall and eventual exile from Hollywood. Amber Heard’s allegations in The Washington Post op-ed, published in 2018, led to studios dropping him instantly, and one of the first franchises to do so was Warner Bros.’s Fantastic Beasts, in which Depp secured the coveted role of the Dark Wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. In the HP spin-off franchise’s third and final installment, The Secrets of Dumbledore, Johnny Depp was replaced by Hannibal actor, Mads Mikkelsen.

As of now, Depp looks to make a comeback with director Maïwenn’s film, Jeanne du Barry, or La Favorite – a French biographical period drama that is being distributed by Netflix. The film is currently in post-production and a release date has been scheduled for 2023.

Pirates of the Caribbean is available for streaming on Disney+.

Source: Don David [via The Things]

Written by Diya Majumdar

It's 2023 and Diya Majumdar's social life is defined by a 365-day binge-marathon of films and television shows. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, she now has more than 1000 published articles on Fandomwire, and her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema. She happens to be a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh, and hardly anything fascinates her more than painting exact replicas of all their troubled works – in oil, of course.