Nearly a decade passed between films for Albert and Allen Hughes—2001's "From Hell" to next week's "Book of Eli"—but don't think for a second the twin brothers weren't busy. They pursued a bunch of different Hollywood projects, and were pursued for many more. Two such films, as MTV News has exclusively learned, were mammoth Disney productions.
The Hughes brothers were approached to direct both "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "The Lone Ranger." Once Gore Verbinksi dropped out of the "Pirates" franchise in April after directing the first three films and before Rob Marshall signed on, the Hughes brothers met with Johnny Depp (their "From Hell" star) and Jerry Bruckheimer to discuss boarding the big screen flicks.
"That right there we had to entertain for a minute, one, because it came from Johnny and, two, because it came from Johnny," said Allen. "Johnny is one of the most lovely people you could encounter in this godforsaken business, and if he asked us to jump through fire, we'd do it."
Said Albert, "We were thinking, 'We're not those guys, but if Johnny wants us to do it, we'll talk to Johnny. He's cool.' We're seriously going to consider anything he says to us."
Even though they suspected they weren't the right filmmakers for the project, things might have worked out had the Hughes' not finally jumped back to directing. But by the time the "Pirates" meeting materialized, the duo was already knee-deep in post-production on "Book of Eli."
"It was just bad timing because we were in the middle of editing 'Eli,'" explained Allen. "When we fall in love with something, we're in love. It's like cheating on your woman to go, 'Oh, let's go start dating someone else.' That wasn't gonna happen. But it was so much appreciated to be in a room with Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny and be talking about that."
The Hughes brothers had stayed in close touch with Depp since "From Hell," exchanging emails and making long distance phone calls, always holding out hope they'd work together again. "He knows and we know it doesn't get any easier than what we had together," said Albert. "We're all very similar in a way. We're all very sensitive and cynical at some points. Funny and goofy and we like relaxed sets. We don't like stress. We don't want to do this just to go make some money."
In that same meeting, Allen said, "We were also talking about 'Lone Ranger' "—another project Depp is set to star in (as sidekick Tonto). And the brothers thought deeply about both.
"We had to think about it because it's Johnny," said Allen. "But then it's Jerry Bruckheimer too. He has to make the decision and Johnny has to make the decision and even if Johnny wants to work with us, there are other octopus legs to that thing."
Ultimately, all involved decided that it wouldn't be the right fit. But Depp and his one-time directing team are still itching to get back on set together.
"We all want to work together again," said Allen. "We just have to find the right thing."