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The Surprising Looney Tunes Character That Inspired Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow Performance

Captain Jack Sparrow is arguably one of the most iconic movie characters of all time. Since his introduction in the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise film, 2003's "The Curse of the Black Pearl," he has been the face of the franchise based on the hit Disneyland attraction. From his outrageous outfit to his rambling yet colorful manner of speech, there are many things that fans associate with this rum-swigging outlaw. 

Johnny Depp has done so much more than play Jack on screen. Nearly all of Jack's personality and appearance come from his input during the movie's development. In fact, Jack was originally supposed to be a handsome, swashbuckling hero, but he had other ideas. Even though Disney executives hated his choices, the actor fought for his version of Jack to hit the screens, as detailed in a revealing 2018 GQ Magazine profile. It was a good thing they relented because, according to CNBC, "Pirates of the Caribbean" is one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time. Depp even earned an Academy Award nomination for best actor for his Jack Sparrow performance in 2004. 

In a 2003 interview with IGN, Depp names Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards — who later plays Jack's father in "At World's End" and "On Stranger Tides" — as a huge influence on the actor while he was crafting the performance. However, Richards isn't the only figure who factored into the creation of the Jack Sparrow we know and love. The "Pirates" actor has also stated that a certain cartoon character helped bring the pirate to life.

Pepé Le Pew influenced Depp's performance as Jack Sparrow

During a "Pirates of the Caribbean" rewatch, viewers should keep "Looney Tunes" in mind because, as revealed back in 2003, Johnny Depp based his Jack Sparrow's character partly on the amorous skunk, Pepé Le Pew.

In the IGN interview, titled "A Conversation with Johnny Depp," the actor spoke about how the Pepé Le Pew cartoon character influenced his performance. What drew Depp to Pepé was the toon's conviction that he was a ladies' man, even going so far as believing that Penelope's disdain for him was a result of her shyness. "This guy sees only what he wants to see," he explained. It is because of this distorted view of reality that characters like Pepé can do just about anything and "always make it through." 

Even though our cultural perception of Pepé Le Pew has changed drastically in recent years (via PopCulture.com), it is admittedly easy to see the ways Depp has incorporated Pepé Le Pew into Jack Sparrow. Though Jack is rather observant in some instances, he can also be extremely oblivious at other moments. Take, for example, the "Curse of the Black Pearl" scene when he reunites with Scarlett and Giselle and is not exactly sure what he did to warrant such slaps from them. It's also worth mentioning that Jack, like Pepé Le Pew, is incredibly lucky as he manages to get through several dangerous situations. At one point in the first "Pirates" movie, he even notes he gets out of a tough scrape "without even a single drop of rum."