After Disney chairman Bob Iger promised thousands of rabid convention-goers, "One more, there's nothing D23 fans like more than a surprise," a video highlight reel of Depp, his career and his various Disney roles caused the convention hall to go into a collective tizzy.
Iger said, "I'm thrilled to call Johnny a member of the Disney family, and today, Johnny Depp becomes a Disney Legend." Emerging onstage for photos and to receive the large, 2-lb. trophy, Depp smiled.
He was joining George Lucas, actress Susan Lucci and composer Danny Elfman among the day's nine honorees.
A mustachioed Depp, dapper in a tan suit, absorbed the crowd's adulation and sheepishly leaned in to the microphone to say, "Hi," causing more squeals, which made him add: "That's what I did when I woke up this morning. I screamed at the top of my lungs."
"So, I don't know why I'm here, I really don't," Depp said to laughter. He then added, "It's an absolute honor to be here."
In a languid, Captain Sparrow-ish delivery, Depp started, "And in all honesty, the only reason I suppose I am here …" before being distracted by a bug.
"A mosquito!" Depp said with amusement, waving a hand. "Did you guys see that?"
Then, alluding to C-3PO and R-2D2 coming on stage before him when George Lucas was honored, Depp continued, "Did you see a guy all dressed in gold and like a little machine? Cool."
Later in the speech, Depp continued to strike a more pensive, saying, "There's a word that's used and it's a word called 'fan,' and I never really liked that word, I don't know, because it implies that someone is above and someone is beneath in a weird way. So I'd rather say you are, in fact, my employer."
With applause from the crowd, Depp added, "Thank you for giving me this great opportunity to basically do stupid stuff for a living, and for watching," before ending his speech on a humorous note.
"I will treasure it and hopefully get to meet Mickey Mouse."