Johnny Depp joined by familiar rocker in “Pirates” sequel?

By Sean O’Connell The publicity machine for next summer’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel – the fourth in the bank-busting franchise but the first without Gore Verbinski at the helm – is about to lift anchor.

Here’s what we know about the film. It will be subtitled “On Stranger Tides,” and will be filmed by director Rob Marshall in 3D. Johnny Depp is returning as Capt. Jack Sparrow, though Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom opted out of the anticipated blockbuster. They’ve been “replaced,” so to speak, by Penelope Cruz, Gemma Ward, and Ian McShane as Blackbeard the pirate. But Geoffrey Rush remains a holdover, reprising his role of Barbossa so he and Sparrow can search for the Fountain of Youth.

Depp turned up on screen at Comic Con to tease the sequel, though no real footage was shown. Then there was that heartwarming story of the eccentric actor appearing in character at a British school when a student wrote him requesting his assistance in a mutiny. We also learned, via Collider, that a “Pirates” trailer would be attached to Disney’s “Tron: Legacy” when it opens in December.

Today, The Playlist unearths some more unique – though, admittedly, predictable – casting news. Digging through a Yahoo feature on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, the site learned that the rocker will reprise his role as Sparrow’s father in “Stranger Tides.” He and Depp certainly hit it off. Here’s hoping Marshall finds more for Richards to do if he’s going to bother burying him in make-up and pirate garb.

More “Pirates” news at it floats across our radar. The teaser will be online in months, which should trigger more information. “On Stranger Tides” will open on May 20, 2011.

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