Stories about Johnny Depp haven’t been so positive lately. His last few films have been sh-t. He hurt his hand while in Australia shooting Pirates 5, but not actually when he was shooting Pirates 5. And there are a lot of rumours about how it actually happened, where it happened, his state of mind when it went down. Put it this way – none of those rumours involve him assisting elderly people at a retirement home or rescuing children from a bus.

Then, of course, earlier this week, there was all that speculation about him being missing and late to return to set after having surgery in the US. For weeks the tabloids have reported that he and Amber Heard were about to break up.

As you know, he and Amber made a big show of getting off the plane together yesterday, holding hands, like everything is totally fine. Click here for a refresher. Just a few hours later, the studio released the first promotional photo of Johnny back in character as Jack Sparrow. The picture was posted on Twitter by producer Jerry Bruckheimer:


“He’s back and we’re not letting him go”…

Well, given his absence from set the last month, you could read that several different ways. But of course what they’re doing here is attempting to change the conversation, remind you that this is Johnny Depp’s most enduring, bankable role. It’s basic public relations. It’s a makeover. You’re supposed to forget that he might be a mess. You’re only supposed to remember all the scarves and the rings and the belts and the hats when he’s playing a part, the part makes everyone else a lot of money.

At CinemaCon in Vegas too, that was the strategy. Warner Bros presented footage from the upcoming Black Mass in which Johnny plays Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Director Scott Cooper said that Johnny delivered “a performance for the ages”. Initial Twitter reaction from the preview seems to confirm it – click here to read some of the tweets. Black Mass comes out in September and already there are predictions that Johnny could contend for an Oscar.

Which makes it even more critical that they turn the discussion around now, to keep pushing this narrative: he’s committed to being Jack Sparrow, he’s one of the finest actors of his generation, he’s a movie star, and he’s still a heartthrob.

Are you back on board? Is it that easy?