Jack Sparrow doesn’t usually feel regret, though he does at times feel lost. Fans of the devil-may-care seafarer may know what it’s like to be there with him.

In this week’s cover story, EW looks at how the fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean mega-franchise, On Stranger Tides (out May 20), attempts to reverse course from the previous two installments and return to the stand-alone spirit of the original. “I felt if we were going to do a 4, that more than anything we owed the audience a fresh start, without all the complicated mathematics of 1 colliding with 2 and 2 colliding with 3,” Depp says. “I felt like it was important to eliminate as many complications as possible.”

The Pirates series has earned $2.6 billion in worldwide box office alone (not counting home video, theme park and merchandising bonanzas), and Depp himself pocketed between $32 million and $35 million, according to estimates, for agreeing to a fourth. For the fans who have stuck with the franchise all this time, he says he wanted this one to be a better movie.

“They had to invent a trilogy out of nowhere,” he says of the previous films. “It was plot driven and complicated. I remember talking to [Gore Verbinski, director of the first three films] at certain points during production of 2 or 3, and saying: ‘I don’t really know what this means.’ He said, ‘Neither do I, but let’s just shoot it.’ This guy is this guy’s dad, and this guy was in love with this broad. It was like, ‘What?’”

As for Depp’s feelings about parts 2 and 3? “To be perfectly honest, I didn’t see them,” says the star. “I did see the first one. I have not seen the second one or the third one.”

To be fair, he tends not to watch himself onscreen anyway, but maybe Pirates 4 will get him to take a peek again?

For more on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, including Johnny Depp’s guide to Captain Jack’s style, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, May 6.

Pirates of the Caribbean
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