Over the course of four "Pirates of the Caribbean" films — with two different directors, multiple cast makeovers and the recent addition of 3-D — one thing has remained constant: Everyone involved in the Disney franchise can't get enough of Johnny Depp.

Talk to anyone who had a hand in "On Stranger Tides," for example, the new adventure flick set to hit theaters on Friday, and each one will rave about Depp's exceptional kindness off-camera and his creative energy in front of it.

"It's a total dream to work with him," director Rob Marshall told us. "He is a consummate artist in every way; so dedicated, so inventive, a real genius. On top of all that is this amazing man: generous, kind, a real throwback from another time."

Those comments neatly echo what Jerry Bruckheimer told us. "He's a consummate pro," the producer said. "He's so creative. He always comes with fresh ideas. He's a very generous individual."

And, hey, guess what? All of that is very close to what Geoffrey Rush offered up about Depp. But Rush, whose nasty yet somehow kindhearted pirate Barbossa has gone sword to sword with Depp's Jack Sparrow since the first film, took it a step further, envisioning a time when the two characters might join forces beyond the tentative alliance they strike in "Stranger Tides."

"Johnny and I spoke about this: If these two guys could only get it together, they'd be the most kick-ass duo," Rush said. "Barbossa's got a lot of long-term strategic thinking and Jack's the master of improvisational, devil-may-care — he'll face any crisis and somehow always get out of it, not knowing from one moment to the next how he's going to do that. They'd be a hot team."

Check out everything we've got on "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

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