iconic casting

Conservatives are mad Disney may cast queer actress Ayo Edebiri in new ‘Pirates’ movie

There has been instant backlash to a rumor — and little more than a rumor — that Disney might cast rising star Ayo Edebiri (The Bear, Abbott Elementary, Bottoms) in a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

What appears to have especially triggered some people is the suggestion the award-winning Black, queer actress might replace Johnny Depp in the hit franchise.

Since the first installment in 2003, there have been five Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Johnny Depp has featured in all of them as Jack Sparrow. The last one was 2017’s Dead Men Tell No Tales.

In 2020, Variety reported that two new reboot movies were in the pipeline. It said producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who was attached to the first five movies, was involved. It suggested one was more of a female-fronted piece. Margot Robbie’s name was among those bandied about as potential stars.

However, Robbie told Vanity Fair in 2022 that it was no longer happening.

“We had an idea and we were developing it for a while, ages ago, to have more of a female-led – not totally female-led, but just a different kind of story – which we thought would have been really cool,” she told the magazine. “But I guess they [Disney] don’t want to do it.”

However, Bruckheimer subsequently denied the idea was dead

“It’s alive for me. It’s alive for Disney,” reported The Sun. “I’m sure [Margot] was disappointed it didn’t go first, or maybe not because she’s very busy, so it might be a blessing to push this a bit. We believe we’ll get it made. It’s a very strong story.”

Depp, during his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, said that Disney had axed him from playing Sparrow. He suggested it was down to the allegations of domestic abuse leveled against him by Heard.

Matt Walsh and Elon Musk

It’s unclear where the rumor about Edebiri comes from but high-profile conservative figures have been quick to react.

Daily Wire podcaster Matt Walsh whipped up his followers on X, stating, “So then Disney is looking to replace a beloved male character with a female character based on an historical figure and at the same time replace that historical figure with a black woman. This is like the diversity casting hat trick.”

Elon Musk, owner of X, also felt moved to register his outrage. He reshared a story about the rumored casting and simply captioned it, “Disney sucks”.

His tweet has had over 450,000 likes and prompted over 29k comments.

Musk has consistently criticized corporate diversity and equality initiatives in recent weeks, blasting them as “racist” and “sexist”. He has highlighted Disney as a company he feels is over-obsessed with DEI.

Earlier this week, it emerged Musk was financially backing actress Gina Carano to sue Disney. Carano claims she was fired from Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian, after posting tweets criticizing gender pronouns and the Black Lives Matter movement.

A couple of days ago, Musk posted what he suggested were confidential memos from Disney encouraging greater inclusion within its movies.

Another X user has said that rather than being confidential, the guidelines were widely known and reported upon by trade magazines in the past.

Edebiri, 28, has not responded to the Pirates of the Caribbean rumors, or the backlash online. The Boston-raised actor is on a career roll at the moment, having recently won an Emmy and a Critics Choice Award for her performance in The Bear. She will soon star in a new horror movie, Opus, alongside John Malkovich and Murray Bartlett.

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