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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."


Depp, who said his enthusiasm for a fourth "Pirates" movie has waned with the news of Cook's exit, said "it seems like the whole town is shocked," Depp said in a phone interview from London. He said Cook called him a few hours ago to break the news.

"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

Comments () | Archives (36)

Disney is going through a big transition. Post Eisner, there's alot of bad blood in the company and things will be changing alot the next few years. Depp may walk and this would be a big loss for fans and Disney.

Oh how sad. Depp may walk and I could understand it if he did. It would be a big disappointment to us fans but we would understand.

Depp may feel a momentary loss of "enthusiasm", but I'm sure once the interview was over with Claudia, his agent pointed out "that will be enough of that kind of talk, Johnny" and then probably said something like "you might be looking, at guarantees and % of sales, altogether at $40MM from POC-4".

So, I'm sure Johnny might be sending flowers and some chocolates to Mr. Cook, but this talk about losing "enthusiasm" (funny, it was later nuanced with "at the moment") is all blather from a wacky dude who doesn't really live on the same plane as the rest of us ... nice life, I guess, if you can get it ... but just really weird.

But I do concur, it is a shame about Mr. Cook's sudden departure. He seemed from the outside looking in, to be a complete class act with a pretty good track record.

This is very sad, indeed, and hopefully will not impede a forth "Pirates." I think the next installment should be written by an "outsider" who sees things a bit differently. It is true what Johnny says about trust in the entertainment business. I'm not personally in it but have tried to enter it via script writing. Well, only one script: The Forth "PIRATES." I've written a script with a simple storyline--a wonderful storyline--that incorporates Disney elements and is true to the Disney spirit. If tweeked a bit by the "professionals," I believe it would bring in more $$$ than ever and our beloved Walt Disney himself would look down on us with his twinkling eyes, smile magically, and then give Jack a big wet kiss. It is a loveable script, if only given the chance:) Oh yes, it must be simple because Jack is so BIG a character on that Screen!!! I love this site.

I'm really sad to think that maybe Pirates 4 won't happen now. I hope it does. And I hope that the new people who become in charge still let Johnny and the directors and everyone keep their original vision. Because that's the way it should be.

If Johnny Depp says Cook's a good guy, then I believe him. Johnny Depp is an island of class in a sea of crass.

Why exactly was Cook ousted? Anyone?

I too feel a dampening of spirit, I have seen Disney Executives online and immediately liked Mr. Cook, he has that for real, kind and trustworthy face. I hope he stays in the entertainment business I would certainly trust him with my script, if only I knew where to give it. Good Luck to him.

Bill Brown, you must be an uncreative, boring man; for you have no imagination. Johnny Depp did the most amazing portrayal of Jack Sparrow, and i doubt that any one could have done it better. As for money, johnny depp is not remotley interested. Aren't you aware of his film choices? Edward scissorhands, Benny and Joon, Sweeney todd? Johnny Depp has always been attracted to the people he works with, not the money that it produces! It seems that you need to take a closer look at the man before judging him so rudely, and although i am judging you, it seems appropriate; you're writing easily shows that you are extremely unlikeable.

- Cristle

What a beautiful thing to say, Robert. Thank you.

And why should we care if another POC film doesn't get made? They're crap.

I never realized how much Depp had become a corporate shill until now. I can understand why the exec called him personally. Depp is their cash-cow AND actor with "integrity." And Cook has filled Depp's bank account too. Their mutual love is built on the almighty $.

Disney faces stronger competition in its most lucrative markets. I don't envy the next executive. He's going to have a tiger by the tail.

The first movie is usually very good and that sparks sequels. The sequels are always more of the same. They are made to milk the original and mine the wallets of the mentally lame that didn't get it the first time.

He probably had Republican thoughts and Disney cannot allow any Republican thoughts. :-)

Hope this does not impact the 21 JUMP STREET feature film in development with Cook and Deep.

The Wall Street Journal said, "In an industry known for sharp elbows and backstabbing politics, Mr. Cook stood out for his folksy, self-deprecating demeanor and low-key style. But people in the film industry said he also had been slow to embrace modern innovations."

I wouldn't be surprised that Mr. Cook had some enemies at Disney. An old friend of mine works in the animation department, told me years ago that he personally met the man and liked him right off, but he said to me that certain people were trying to fire him no reason. Looks like they found a way to get rid of a nice man, it's sad that he has left.
Johnny should just finish Pirates and move on with his life and refuse to ever work with Disney. He has friends in the business, at least there is plenty of work for him in the coming years.

Please. The third "Pirates" was just a bad movie. I'd rather JD spend a few months working on something that isn't yet another bloated cash-in on a totally wrung-out IP.

Let's just forget about Pirates and the pampered Depp. What is apparent is that the whole movie industry has been in disrepair for sometime. Very few blockbuster films anymore -- in so few categories. Originality seems lost in an apparent drug infested Hollywood. When was the last time we had a great science fiction film or even a terror, monster film other than the usual dinosaur, or over stuffed gorilla remake? Perhaps it's our failing schools that there are so many dullards in the film industry today. The dramas and mysteries seem all and the same -- rapid dialog (to cover reality glitches) and over saturation of the film industry with so little differentiation from film to film. Ya all are drugged dullards, me thinks.

I heard that theres not even a director for Pirates 4.
but i bet Johnny will still do it, because he's kids love captain Jack so much. and even if the script sucks Johnny would find a way to make it awsome!

Very sorry to see Dick Cook go.
He actually trusted the filmmakers and was
a joy to work with on "Open Range".
Mr. Cook will have more offers than Disney
next week.

Bob Iger has a very short memory, Dick Cook was the only executive holding the really fragile Disney-Pixar relationship together a few years back when Eisner & Jobs were having their mega ego maniac wars. I think it's time to kick out the Fortune 500 corporations out of Hollywood and return it to filmakers & marketers & distributors. Take Hollywood private!!!!

If I were Johnny, I would lose my enthusiasm too. Because I don't know that people at the studios work with me because they love and trust me, like Cook, or just because I'm famous now and so they have to get me into it.

Es un poco triste que el Sr Cook deje Walt Disney Studios,despues de 40 años,pero El Sr Jerry Bruckeimer es un gran director y ha dirigido muy bién las tres películas de Piratas del Caribe anteriores,pienso que el Sr
Bruckeimer lo hará muy bién y Johnny Depp lo hará perfecto.

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