Johnny Depp says he's 'shocked and very sad' about Dick Cook's departure
Johnny Depp, star of Walt Disney Co.'s hugely successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, said he was "shocked and very sad" to hear about the abrupt departure of studio chief Dick Cook, whom he called "the sweetest man on the planet and such a gent."
"He is the utmost gentleman, so he made the call himself. He said, 'I'd like you to hear it from me before you hear it from someone else or read it,'" Depp said. "He said today was my last day. He didn't give me a reason."
Depp added, "I didn't see this coming. There was no reason to see this coming."
The actor said it was because of Cook that he ended up working with Disney in the first place. Cook had been trying woo Depp for years with various projects including doing voice-overs for animated films and one day, in Cook's office, the studio chief threw out an idea that Depp pounced on.
"He said, 'We're thinking about doing this 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie,'" Depp recalled. "I said I was in. This was before there was a script or anything."
Depp said one of the reasons he committed to the movie was because he trusted Cook.
"He's instantly trustworthy. And you generally don't meet people at the studios you trust," Depp said. "He's a rare beast."
Depp said Cook's true character was evident right from the get-go. "When things went a little sideways on the first 'Pirates' movie and others at the studio were less than enthusiastic about my interpretation of the character, Dick was there from the first moment. He trusted me," said Depp, referring to his controversial choices to fill his mouth with gold fillings and wear "things tied into my hair" that made him resemble Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards as much as he did a pirate.
While some of the Disney executives were "opposed to my body language," Cook "was completely supportive of me," Depp said.
As for the fourth planned "Pirates" movie, Depp said while he has a potential deal in place that will depend on how good the script is, his passion for the project at the moment has been severely dampened by the news that Cook will no longer be around.
"There's a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment," Depp said. "It was all born in that office."
Depp said he was confident that he and Cook will one day work together again.
"He will be somewhere and I will always look forward to working with him. I consider Dick a friend inside an insane system. He's someone I understand and I think he understands me."
Update (Saturday, 12:05 AM): For more, read the story in Saturday's Times.
-- Claudia Eller
Photo: Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean." Credit: Peter Mountain / Buena Vista Pictures