Actor Johnny Depp. Picture: Reuters

Johnny Depp says Disney wanted to "fire" him over his 'Pirates of the Caribbean' performance and insisted they didn't understand the way he was trying to portray Captain Jack Sparrow.

The 55-year-old actor's interpretation of Captain Jack Sparrow in the first film in the swashbuckling franchise left bosses baffled, and he admitted they didn't understand the character.

He told GQ magazine: "Disney hated me. [They were] thinking of every way they could to get rid of me, to fire me.

"'Oh, we're going to have to subtitle him.' 'We don't understand Captain Jack Sparrow. What's wrong with him?' 'What's wrong with his arms?' 'Is he drunk?' 'Is he mentally f***ing stupefied?' 'Is he gay?' "

Sparrow's sexuality was brought up in a conversation with Disney's Nina Jacobson - who herself is openly gay, and has campaigned for greater diversity in Hollywood's boardrooms - and Depp was sure "to be irreverent" with his answer.

He said: "It was a lady called Nina Jacobson from Disney at the time and she asked me a couple of questions and then said, 'What is it, Johnny? Is he gay?'

"My tendency, of course, is to be irreverent so I said, 'Nina, didn't you know all my characters are gay?' That was a pretty abrupt end to the conversation. And I just continued shaping Jack the way I believed was best."

Depp argued that Disney should have known what to expect when they hired him for the role, and insisted they should respect his vision after trusting him to take on the part.

He added: "I told them, 'Look, you don't like what I'm doing, fire me. You hired me to do a job and play the character and this is what I want to do.'

"This is the work. I mean, hadn't they seen any of the work I'd done previously? You might want to take a look at that before you hire a motherf****r, you know?"