I'm a fanboy.
First, thanks to the success of 2003's "The Curse of the Black Pearl" — for which Depp earned an Oscar nomination — "Pirates of the Caribbean" became a trilogy.
Depp also achieved a three-part personal coup with the role: unbridled creative expression in a spectacular commercial success with a film he can happily share with his kids.
But with the second "Pirates" picture, "Dead Man's Chest," in theaters July 7 and filming nearly wrapped on the third, the 43-year-old actor is reluctantly preparing to put aside the roguish pirate he describes as "part rock-star, Keith Richards-kind-of-guy and part Pepe Le Pew."
"It's always hard to say goodbye to a character at the end of a shoot, but with Captain Jack especially," says Depp, who exudes the same magnetic charm in person as he does on screen. "I've really come to enjoy spending time with him, or as him, whatever it is. He's definitely a big part of me."
Depp even wears Sparrow's gold and silver teeth off screen: they're bonded to his own.
The stark originality of the character initially scared studio heads, says producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
"They said, `He's gay, he's drunk. Oh my God, what are you guys doing?' But once we cut a scene together, they saw the fun of it," he says.
That fun was tripled when Depp agreed to reprise the role — twice.
"None of us would be back if Johnny had not wanted to play this character again," Bruckheimer says.
Depp has tried to pour his soul into all his performances, he says, whether they were in a tiny independent film or a big-budget blockbuster. Commercial success, while appealing, was not crucial, he says.
"It didn't make sense to me that you go into work and put as much of yourself and your heart into something, and in the end, all it's about is how much money it makes at the box office. Eeew," he says with disgust. "I can't think that way."
His movies were "box-office poison," he says, but "it never felt that way to me."
"I'm not comfortable saying movies are art," Depp says. "I don't know that they can be because there's so much money involved."
So it is, he says, he approaches his work from an artistic, not financial, perspective. Box-office receipts "are kind of none of my business," he says.
"You have to have some sort of legacy in truth and honesty that you leave to your kiddies and the people you love."