Johnny Depp chuckled when asked if he was worried about the notoriously harsh critics at the Cannes Film Festival, where his new swashbuckler Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides played amid far more sober fare.
Depp said his family — French actress and romantic partner Vanessa Paradis and their two children — are the only critics he needs.
"My family have seen more of my movies than I have. In fact, a lot more, including this one," Depp said before the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel screened. "They've been angels through this process, because I started out secretly testing characters on them to see how the reactions would be. When my daughter was little, we'd be playing Barbies, and I'd start doing these voices. Finally, she just said, ‘Stop.'
"So they go and see the movies, and basically, I can tell by their reaction if I did all right or not. So I'm very lucky in that way. They seem to enjoy them so far. I haven't been fired by my kids."
And the Cannes critics? Depp, 47, who spent the first two decades of his career in quirky little movies that rarely found much critical support, was not exactly quaking in his pirate boots.
"Yeah, I've always feared the critics" Depp said, laughing. "They really scare me."
The fourth movie in the Pirates franchise inspired by the Disney theme-park ride, On Stranger Tides casts Depp's boozy, woozy buccaneer Jack Sparrow alongside a female pirate (Penelope Cruz) and her notorious dad, Blackbeard (Ian McShane), in search of the fountain of youth.
Sparrow mumbles, minces, prattles and prances. He wears heavy eyeliner and a mess of baubles in his braided hair and beard. His clothes resemble a gypsy's castoffs as much as the attire of a dashing pirate.
"There wasn't a group of Disney upper echelon who had any enthusiasm whatsoever for what I was doing," Depp said. "They almost subtitled me."
But with $2.7 billion (Dh9.91 billion) in worldwide box office for the first three Pirates movies, no one at the studio gripes about Sparrow's idiosyncrasies now.
Bruckheimer has a script for a fifth Pirates movie in the works, and Depp said he's on board to keep playing Sparrow as long as the right ingredients go in.
"If you are surrounded by such an amazing and creative force such as Jerry, such as Rob, such strong actors like these guys, I think the possibilities are endless," Depp said. "But really, ultimately and truly, these films are made for the people who go in and they pay their hard-earned money to see these things. And if the people get tired of it or something, that's when it stops.'