Pirates Of The Caribbean Writers Reveal The Character They Liked More Than Captain Jack

Pirates of the Caribbean

There’s no mystery who the breakout character in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is. While other movies based on Disney park attractions haven’t made that much of an impact, the nautical saga became a box office juggernaut, probably in large part thanks to the widespread popularity of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. But his creators have now revealed that the worst pirate you’ve ever heard of wasn’t actually their favorite character to write.

In a fascinating chat with Creative Screenwriting, acclaimed writing duo Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio revealed that they were most interested in Elizabeth Swan, the heroine played by Keira Knightley, and they always saw the films (the original trilogy, at least, which they penned together) as Elizabeth’s story, with the other characters revolving around her.

As Elliot explained, Elizabeth is the trilogy’s protagonist as the romantic way she views pirates is at the heart of the story.

In Pirates, Elizabeth is the protagonist, representing the idea of the romance of the pirate,” he said. “The romantic illusion of the outlaw is a very common concept in our society; in fact, the underpinning of all romances is the anti-hero, the Byronic bad boy. That’s what Elizabeth is looking for.”

Elliot went on to add that he thinks you can compare 2003’s franchise-starter The Curse of the Black Pearl to one of Disney’s animated movies, with Elizabeth in the role of the princess.

“Each of the characters surrounding her present differing points of view on that issue. [Buena Vista Motion Picture Group President] Nina Jacobson put it best,” he elaborated. “She said it’s like an animated movie: you have the prince (Norrington [Captain Norrington played by Jack Davenport), the pauper (Will [Will Turner played by Orlando Bloom]), the rogue (Jack [Jack Sparrow played by Johnny Depp) and the villain (Barbossa [Captain Hector Barbossa played by Geoffrey Rush). All of these characters are presenting these different points of view to the princess (Elizabeth).”

Famously, Disney completely underestimated the impact Jack would have on audiences and was even against casting Depp in the first place, as they didn’t approve of his kooky performance. As the films went on, though, Sparrow became the true star of the franchise. This is why there’s so much skepticism over whether the studio can continue the Pirates universe without him now that Depp has been let go following his damaged reputation.

In an interesting throwback to how Elliot and Rossio viewed Curse as Elizabeth’s movie, though, Disney is working on two female-led projects. The one that’s furthest ahead is Margot Robbie’s spinoff, which The Suicide Squad star is attached to produce and probably star in. Pirates of the Caribbean will live on, but fans will have to adjust to no more Captain Jack.