“I have to politely, regretfully decline the offer”: Oscar-winning Legend Almost Said No to Working With Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean

The actor was set to appear on a famous Stage play, Waiting for Godot.

johnny depp, pirates of the caribbean


  • Pirates of the Caribbean was one of Disney's most lucrative franchises, and had a talented cast to back itself up.
  • Geoffrey Rush, who played Barbossa, turned down the role initially, but was convinced by his agent to go ahead with it.
  • The actor wrote to his colleagues from the production, and informed them about his decision to leave for the Pirates of the Caribbean.
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Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most influential series of the early 2000s, being a series of films that had completely taken over the mainstream media space during its heyday. The series was based on a theme park ride at Disneyland and had a great cast of actors partaking in the franchise.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
A still from Pirates of the Caribbean | Disney Pictures

Geoffrey Rush essayed the role of Hector Barbossa, the mutinous first mate of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. He was an integral and iconic part of the franchise, so much so that the creators decided they wanted to bring the character back from the dead. However, Geoffrey Rush almost decided not to go with the role due to some commitments he had already made.

Geoffrey Rush wrote a four-page email explaining why he could not take the role

Captain Hectore Barbossa Pirates of the Caribbean | Disney Pictures
Captain Hector Barbossa Pirates of the Caribbean | Disney Pictures

Back in 2017, Geoffrey Rush spoke to Inside the Magic and talked about how he almost lost the chance to star with Johnny Depp. He said:


I originally had turned it down because I had committed to work with a longtime colleague director in a theater in Australia, and we were planning to do a production of ‘Waiting for Godot.’ So I remember writing a four-page email to my agent and it was titled something like ‘I hope you’ve got a strong cup of coffee and you’re sitting down… I have to politely, regretfully decline the offer. It’s a wonderful script, but I’m committed to this.’

The actor was to be a part of a long-running theatre production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which deterred him from accepting the role at first. The actor wrote a four-page email to his agent and considered the matter to be that. However, his agent wrote back, with an even bigger email, making the case for why he must take up the role.

Geoffrey Rush wrote to his colleagues after backing out from the production he had committed to

Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Swann and Geoffery Rush as Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End | Disney Pictures
Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Swann and Geoffrey Rush as Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End | Disney Pictures

Rush was finally won over by his agent, which means he had to back out of the production of Waiting for Godot.  Rush revealed that he decided to exit the production, and informed all of his colleagues about his departure. Regarding this, he said:

I wrote to all my colleagues and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m bailing out; I’m not doing it because I don’t like you. But there’s an opportunity that’s come up that I think is a very important career maneuver.

Rush would go on to essay the role of Barbossa in The Curse of the Black Pear, which he thought would be his only appearance in the franchise. However, the actor would return in Dead Man’s Chest and play a major role in At World’s End, On Stranger Tides, and Dead Men Tell No Tales, starring in the role with an obvious finesse.


Written by Anuraag Chatterjee

Articles Published: 679

Anuraag Chatterjee, Web Content Writer
With a passion for writing fiction and non fiction content, Anuraag is a Media Science graduate with 2 year's experience with Marketing and Content, with 3 published poetry anthologies. Anuraag holds a Bacherlor's degree in Arts with a focus on Communication and Media Studies.