TORONTO (Reuters) - Johnny Depp, the chameleon-like actor who has played so many different roles that he may not have a self, says he's finally found a role he wants to stay in: the buccaneer Captain Jack Sparrow.
Sequels frighten Depp, but he said the chance to reprise his role as the suave Sparrow in the next two editions of "Pirates of the Caribbean" was too delicious to pass up.
For an actor who has received far more critical praise than box office success, it is not about the money.
"More than it having anything to do with money, or franchise, or hopefully continued success, it actually had ... more to do with selfishly being able to meet up with that character again," Depp said in an interview at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday.
He was in town to promote "Corpse Bride," an animated feature made by his longtime friend, director Tim Burton.
Depp said he's often felt separation anxiety when he finishes a film, notably after his breakthrough performance in "Edward Scissorhands," also directed by Burton.
But he said he developed a deep affinity with Jack Sparrow, a character based on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Depp was nominated for a best actor Oscar for the role.
Depp had a sneaking suspicion he'd see Sparrow again after Pirates was released in 2003, but never imagined he would be part of a franchise.
Two Pirates' sequels are filming in the Bahamas and are slated for release in 2006 and 2007.
MANY ODD CHARACTERS
Over the years, Depp has played many odd characters like Hunter S. Thompson in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," the cocaine trafficker George Jung in "Blow," and Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in "Finding Neverland."
"I've always considered myself very lucky to still be getting jobs after all the weirdness I've put people through in terms of having to watch my films," he said.
The critical acclaim didn't make him a bankable property though and studios were nervous about using him.
"He's basically a great character actor in a leading man's body. He's always kept that integrity. To me, it's something I find that's really amazing in this business," said Burton, who has cast Depp in five movies to date.
For years, Burton clashed with studio executives over casting Depp, but with the actor's hilarious turn as Sparrow, the studios took notice and actually asked Burton about Depp as a lead in summer 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Their latest collaboration, "Corpse Bride," is a stop-motion animation film based on a Russian folk tale about unintentional unions between an unfortunate man and a dead bride.
There will likely be more projects together, but where would Depp's career be if not for Burton?
"I don't want to do anything to embarrass future generations of Depps to come, but I don't know that I would have had this much luck or success without a Tim Burton. I owe him a lot."