“He seems to be channeling a drunken drag queen”: Roger Ebert on Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, Called Him a “Peacock in full display”

The actor earned his first Oscar nomination for his role as the pirate Jack Sparrow.

roger ebert on johnny depp’s jack sparrow, called him a “peacock in full display”

SUMMARY

  • Johnny Depp starred as the bumbling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
  • He earned his first Oscar nomination for the role and has become synonymous with the character.
  • Noted critic Roger Ebert called his performance vastly original and even termed him as a peacock on full display.
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One of Johnny Depp’s most well-known roles is that of the bumbling pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in the acclaimed swashbuckler film series Pirates of the Caribbean. He portrayed the character with all its quirks and weird body language intact and even earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal.

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While Depp was not the first choice for the role, he made the character his own and despite his apparent removal from the franchise, is irreplaceable in the eyes of fans. Noted critic Roger Ebert in his scathing review of the film had only nice things to say about Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow.

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Also read: “You have to keep that flame alive”: Despite Clashing On Set, Director Purposely Ignored Johnny Depp Controversy To Keep Him in Film

Roger Ebert’s Criticisms Of Pirates of The Caribbean

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp

The Johnny Depp starrer Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was originally based on a theme park ride that was present in Disneyland. The film began development in 2001 and went through several revisions before Gore Verbinski was brought in to direct the film. 

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The first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl dealt with the pirates of the ship Black Pearl, led by Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbosa, and the curse that rendered them to be undead. One of the highlights of the film is the swordfights between the pirates as they turn into skeletons at night as moonlight falls on them. 

However, noted critic Roger Ebert was reportedly annoyed by this as it served no practical purpose in the film. Since the pirates were undead made sure that there was no threat of the sword for them as they could not be killed.

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Also read: “It’s best to stay away”: Johnny Depp Would Never Play Some Characters in Movies Despite His Unparalleled Success With Jack Sparrow

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert

In his review of the film, Ebert called the film a ‘90-minute B-movie trapped in the blockbuster film’ and wrote,

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“Because they’re already dead, they cannot be killed…but doesn’t that mean there’s no point in fighting them?… The only reason I bring this up is that the battle scenes actually feel as if they go on forever. It’s fun at first to see a pirate swordfight, but eventually, it gets to the point where the sword-clashing, yardarm-swinging, and timber-shivering get repetitious.”

Despite his scathing review of the film as a whole, the legendary critic had great things to say about Johnny Depp’s performance in the film.

Also read: “All I can do is be vulnerable and honest”: Jenna Ortega, Johnny Depp and Tom Hanks Have a Surprising Similarity

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How Did Roger Ebert Feel About Johnny Depp’s Performance?

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

Actor Johnny Depp was reportedly not the first choice to lead the Pirates franchise as Captain Jack Sparrow. In fact, the character was written for Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman. However, due to his limited fame at the time, the studio looked at other options such as Jim Carrey, Matthew McConaughey, and even Christopher Walken.

Depp was finally cast in the role with actors Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley featuring along with him in the adventure film. Johnny Depp’s portrayal in the film has been an iconic part of pop culture now and he has been synonymous with the role ever since.

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Roger Ebert’s review too could not ignore Depp’s legendary performance as the bumbling pirate. Ebert had great things to say about the 21 Jump Street star’s highly original performance and even compared him to a peacock in full glory. He wrote,

“And yet the movie made me grin at times, and savor the daffy plot, and enjoy the way Depp and Rush fearlessly provide performances that seem nourished by deep wells of nuttiness.”

“Depp in particular seems to be channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly…There has never been a pirate or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie…He is a peacock in full display.”

The legendary critic is not the only one who was impressed by Johnny Depp’s performance as he earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

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Also read: Johnny Depp Shot Himself in the Foot by Rejecting Cult-Classic Sci-Fi Movie Directed by Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible Director

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Written by Nishanth A

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 400 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.