Johnny Depp (in Jack Sparrow costume) surprises Disney D23 Expo audience

Sept. 11, 2009 | 8:59 p.m.


Johnny Depp, arguably the biggest movie star in the world, surprised the audience of Walt Disney Co.’s D23 Expo in Anaheim by sailing on stage in his famous pirate regalia.

As 5,000 fans jumped to their feet, the star emerged in full character, with his bleary ballet of the forever besotted Jack Sparrow.

Cracking wise about rum he also said he’d like a little snack — that nice frog named Kermit who had been on stage earlier and “probably tastes like chicken.”

Disney executive Dick Cook played the straight man for the short presentation and it was the least he could do: The “Pirates” franchise has pulled in more than $1 billion in domestic box-office alone and Depp is also on tap for a fourth, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011. (An earlier version of this post had scrambled title and date — blame the blackberry!) Depp is also starring “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Lone Ranger” for the Mouse House.

Depp arrived on stage in gliding replica of the Black Pearl pirate ship and, before they saw his famous face, the crowd was cheering at the sight of his silhouette behind a billowing back-lit sail and pumping stage smoke. Depp was the big finale in a program that featured appearances by John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Tim Burton and a performance by Miley Cyrus. Check back here more details on the program, as well as info on Guillermo del Toro’s newly announced venture with Disney and Pixar.

— Geoff Boucher



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Photo of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow by Walt Disney Pictures


63 Responses to Johnny Depp (in Jack Sparrow costume) surprises Disney D23 Expo audience

  1. Pamela says:

    Since when is Johnny Depp the biggest star in the world?? No offense, he's very talented, but I must have missed that memo…

  2. Margaret says:

    I would have loved to see this just to see this would totally be worth me coming to the disney expo Just love love love Johnny Depp cant wait for the alice and wonderland movie to come out.

  3. patrick paduch says:

    I love days like this when it has been a little hard to get through and i stumble upon somethin godd about the world…namely DISNEY. You guys can not imagine how much good you do for the world. Please keep it up.

  4. patrick paduch says:

    I would like to replace my first comment with this comment which does not have bad typos!
    I love days like this when it has been a little hard to get through and I stumble upon something good about the world…namely DISNEY. You guys can not imagine how much good you do for the world.
    Please keep it up.

  5. am_underground says:

    Since he's the only actor alive today that steps out of the box to act. Not since Sean Penn has someone shown the versatility and depth like Depp and Penn never put on a full blown costume. He may not please most people and box office, but in most cases you cannot afford to miss him on screen.

  6. oakley says:

    Uh. Geoff…the "Black Pear"? Is the L too drunk on rum to get back on the ship? ;-D
    I'll start scouring Youtube for the footage now…

  7. x181 says:

    ever since the media made him the biggest star in the world; just to suck money out of you.

  8. Malcolm Powder says:

    Black Pearl presumably?

  9. Cara says:

    I second that. I didn't get the "biggest star in the world" memo. I'm a little surprised to hear Depp headline over Cage and Travolla.
    FYI – It's Black Pearl, not Black Pear.

  10. Geoff Boucher says:

    Sorry for the Black Pearl typo, I was jabbing away at my Blackberry and missed a letter. The dangers of deadlines in the digital age. Please forgive me all, yes, I know the name of the ship!
    And I stand by the argument that Depp is the biggest star in the world at the moment. There's a reason he came out last. And it's news above Travolta and Cage because they were announced in advance and surprises are news by their nature.

  11. No way says:

    Uhh, if you really think he's the biggest star in the world, can you quantify that? Otherwise it's a lame way to open a story since it's a pretty dubious claim.

  12. avlisk says:

    I vote for Ricky Gervais as the Biggest Star on the planet.

  13. Wendy says:

    It's OK Geoff! Depp's big in my book!
    What an awesome surprise! Wish I could have been there but some footage on Youtube will have to suffice!

  14. Robert Mcguiers says:


  15. Robert Mcguiers says:


  16. YesDeppIsABigStarr says:

    To those who said they didn't get the memo re: Depp being a huge star. Erm, why do you think Pirates 2 and 3 made hundreds of millions of dollars. The writing for both SUCKED yet people saw the film more than once and it was a bigger success internationally. Yeah, he's a big star. Check out Boxofficemojo and other sights that show how much his films earn domestic and intentionally.
    I'm not on the Depp train, but I can at least see his star power.

  17. brian says:

    i also throw in my hat in the ring that says depp is arguably the biggest star in the world, arguably being the key word here
    the only other in contention would be pitt.
    lets turn this comment section into
    "who is (arguably) the biggest star in the world" voting poll!

  18. Kate says:

    I don't go and see every movie that Depp is in, so in *MY* world he isn't the "biggest star" but you can't deny that people go and see his movies in large numbers. Travolta and Cage are, in my opinion, larger than Depp. Both Travolta and Cage have taken on different characters and worn costumes in their movies, so they are willing to step out of the box too.

  19. Wow says:

    I would've loved to have seen that! However if I were there and had to experience the wailing of (ugh) miley cyrus, I probably would've taken a sharpened pencil and destroyed my eardrums to save myself from that horrid wailing disney calls "music"

  20. alan clemens says:

    the writer did say, "arguably".

  21. Dan says:

    I think Ruby Gettinger is the biggest star on the planet (and I say that as a fan).

  22. shaun says:

    You got the release date wrong too, guy. It's clearly stated as 2011, not 2012.

  23. Dia says:

    Since he walked onto a movie set and they began filming, thats how long he's been the biggest movie star in the world.

  24. Ava says:

    Gosh, you guys are annoying as hell, critiquing every typo or OPINION, such as Depp being ARGUABLY the biggest star in the world. Just enjoy the article for what it is. A nice story about the ever-gracious Depp willing to do anything to please fans. Relax.

  25. Robert says:

    Depp is FAR bigger a star than Travolta (a has been who got 2nd life thanks to Q) and Nick (there is no franchise too low for me too stoop) Cage.
    I'm not a huge Depp fan, but no doubt, he is the biggest and most recognizable star today.
    He guarantees an opening and is perhaps the best actor of his generation.
    Damn River Phoenix.
    Why did you have to OD?

  26. Chadimus says:

    Pamela, you didn't get the memo because it could not be slid under the gigantic rock you live under.

  27. Chadimus says:

    Have Travolta or Cage ever personally launched and headlined a three, now four pic series bringing in an excess of 1 Billion dollars? Nah, didn't think so.
    I guess I could have just mentioned Bangkok Dangerous or Be Cool to prove the point…

  28. kss says:

    YesDeppIsABigStarr: If Pirates 2 and 3`s writing sucked than all the other movies in the are total piece of sh* should keep your mouth about things like this because you obviously have bad tastes in Movies.Every Normal person and movie watches loved the Pirates Sequels especially 3 because they thought it was Epic and most people say it was the Best one.Why don`t try asking real life people for a change instead of online nerds.They made Billions dollars because people loved it if people thought it sucked why would they pay so much money to watch it

  29. John G says:

    Yes I too would agree with biggest star in the world. Just go ask any teenager or 20-something as they spend the most at the box office these days. Travolta and Cage were big in a past generation.

  30. joann says:

    so love him as Captain Jack Sparrow. I wish there was going to be another, and yes he is the biggest male star

  31. CaptainFlyingSparrow says:

    Pirates Of the Caribbean
    Curse of the Black Pearl
    Dead Mans Chest
    At worlds end
    On stranger tides.
    Ok I guess the name is pretty cool it gos with all the others ones but it sounds a little bit like another set up. i hope we dont get another Pirates 2 I hope this one will be the best out of the others!

  32. CaptainFlyingSparrow says:

    Ok one more thing JOHNNY DEPP ROCKS! lol so Pirates 4 would still be cool because his in it.

  33. Carol says:

    I think Depp could pull in more people at the box office than either Travolta or Cage. Anyway i wanted to say thank you so much for posting this article and making my grim day a little happier.

  34. T-Reesa says:

    Thank you AVA! What other HUGE star on the planet would do what Johnny did today? Thats right, NONE! Johnny is the most gracious movie star of our time and he gives of himself ALL the time just as he did today. He shows his appreciation to his fans through appearances like this, and never before have I seen another actor do what Johnny does. Not only is he EXTREMELY talented, but he knows that his fans are the ones who put him where he is and he goes far, far beyond what any other actor has ever done to show his gratitude for his fame. Brad Pitt is "too famous" to sign autographs- Don't even put them in the same category! Johnny is the most versatile actor ever, and he is kind, thoughtful, and humble. I had the pleasure of seeing Johnny today and it was not the first time, because Johnny, unarguably the biggest star in the world, makes himself accessible to his fans.

  35. VJ says:

    Depp only started to get really big with the 'Pirates' movies. Before that not as much. I think if you look at all tha stats its maybe Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, or Will Smith that would come out bigger. Depp is a much better character actor than any of them but thats not technically what the "biggest movie star in the world" needs to be.

  36. isaur says:

    So much bull—t..Of course Johnny Depp is the biggest star. Geoff not talking about "oscar" best actors type such as Nicholson or Penn, he's talking of the STAR that millions love and admire and want to imitate not just for the acting but for his whole persona. Johnny is the only one that possess both great acting and a magnetically enigmatic personality that attracts millions…. Brad Pitt will be second

  37. Tom Storm says:

    I like Johnny Depp – no, make that REALLY like – he takes on challenging roles – and he's great to watch – but 'arguably the biggest movie star in the world' begs response. In economic terms Meryl Streep gives producers a bigger bang for their bucks – Mickey Mouse was the foundation 'star' of a major movie company – Denzel Washington and Brad Pitt will always see me buy a ticket. Brew Swillus (sorry) almost always delivers and Daniel Craig takes on tough-to-play roles – so too Samuel L. Jackson…and the list goes on forever. Missing from this 'arguably' claim is a definition of 'movie star'. How do you quantify the claim? World's biggest rock band. World's biggest liar. World's most gentle human being. It's a matter of opinion and is therefore a spurious claim.

  38. Alex Cross says:

    I think that is why they said 'arguably the biggest' guess noone caught that but me. Oh well. Anyway some may consider him that and some may not that is the beautyof using the word arguably in a sentence. As for him being over travolta and Cage…myself i would watch depp anyday in a movie before JT or NC. But that is MY opinion :) See yall later pumpkins

  39. rose says:

    well i am excited to watch this… i cant… i already bought the 3 pirates…. i wish its already 2011 LOL

  40. isadepp says:

    Johnny Depp IS the biggest star…Geoff not talking about ''oscar" stars such as Nicholson , Penn or Cage.He surely talking about "The STAR" that millions love and cherish.. the STAR millions of woman dream of and men want to imitate The Star that not only is a great actor but possesses a magic persona so attractive,unique, enigmatic…Who else would be that STAR but Johnny Depp? nobody ………o.k. Brad Pitt will be in second place


    uh youhr dumb he is the biggest stupid idiot bioggest in the world dumb jerk. he is a hottie. No way and all the other dioots shut up he is the BIGGEST AND HE DID NOT COME OUT LAST WHY DONT U SHUT UP AND OKAY STUPIDPEDOS TRAVOLAT AND CAGE ARE SO LOW AND DEPP IS WAY OVER THEM HE IS HUGE SO IN YOUR FACE DUMB IGNORANT PEOPLE

  42. James says:

    Pamela, it says arguably the biggest movie star in the world. He is one of the biggest stars in the world, that is not an opinion. He makes 20 million a movie and is the star of a multi billion dollar movie franchise, he is a household name. If you didn't know he was amongst the biggest movie stars in the world than you need to get out more often.

  43. James says:

    x181, The media didn't make him the biggest mvoie star in the world, us people did… by going to see the Pirates films which were all smash hits.

  44. YesDeppIsABigStarr says:

    Travolta and Nick Cage are not bigger stars than Depp. Look at their box office earnings the past few years. That alone will tell you that your statement is false. Come on.
    I get it. You're a fan of Travolta and Cage and not Depp. But be sensible here. Depps films open huge. Travolta and Cage.. Not so much.

  45. YesDeppIsABigStarr says:

    To kss
    You are taking this a bit personally you think. Even Depp has been quoted to say the 2nd and 3rd films were confusing. That's a nice way of saying the writing wasn't up to par.
    I'm glad the films made money as I liked the first Pirates. The characters are interesting, particularly Barbossa. But 2 and 3 were not fantastic. There were so many plot holes. Additionally they did nothing with the Calypso storyline. There was a relationship hinted on between Jack and the sea goddess. Did the writers explain that one, NO. Then there is the fact that Jack Sparrow was an EITC soldier. Was that explained? How about that pirate brand on his arm burned in his flesh by Beckett? The writers explain that one? I could keep going here.
    Davy Jones was totally misused in the 3rd film. Will Turner and Elizabeth overused.
    I'm glad Keira and Orlando won't be in the 4th. Hopefully this one will be more like The Curse of the Black Pearl.
    Like I said before, people went to see the 2nd and 3rd film for Johnny. BTW Dead Man's Chest made 400 million while At World's end made 300. Yes that is a lot of money and nothing to turn your nose at but there was a drop off here.

  46. Charlotte Chevalier says:

    i heard the guy is going to appear as a pirate in the new Pirates of the Carribean movie. does anyone know if its true?

  47. Jackie says:

    ARGUABLY the biggest star. Obviously that meant we have to argue about it! Lol!
    I am one who agrees with that statement. He is one hell of an actor and pretty damn good looking! As for John Travolta, I love him to death! He's great, but in my opinion, Johnny has a little more emotional range than he does. Nicolas Cage is another of my favorites, and let us not forget that if it weren't for him, Johnny Depp would never have even thought of acting. He's the one who convinced him to try it!
    As to the topic at hand, Pirates, I am so excited! I am prepared for the fact that this is the fourth movie, and therefore unlikely to be as good as the first three, but I am still stoked!

  48. Amy says:

    Pamela: where the hell have you been? Johnny Depp is one of the best actors in history.. you need to crawl out of your rock more often..
    Cant wait! :)

  49. MsT says:

    I LOVE Johnny Depp.
    Was never a big fan, till Chocolat…
    Never even wanted to see Pirates – because the trailer looked too spooky weird for me…
    Then I saw Black Pearl and kicked myself – didn't realise what a blast I was missing…
    I LAUGHED all the way through – just LOVE the camp'tn Jack – sexiest pirate there ever was…
    CAN'T wait to see the next Pirates instalment…

  50. Johnny Fan says:

    I loved all the Pirates movies and am excited to see a 4th coming out. The 3rd tied everything together. The P on Jack's hand is a brand put there by Beckett because Jack worked for the East India Trading Company years before, transporting slaves but did not like doing it and left. Johnny is a great star and I do not think anyone else could have pulled of Jack Sparrow like he did!!!

  51. Robbie says:

    What a great event for fans of Disney seeing Johnny Depp come sailing through!
    congratulations to Johnny for working the show with such humility :)
    I've never been disappointed by one film his ever made, his so handsome and
    truly humble, one thing Disney is aware of that Mr. Depp has brought in over
    a billion dollars for the franchise.. hoping for a raise Johnny? you deserve it.
    maybe a new gold tooth or a sports car to go with? how about a 65 ft. yacht!
    Go for it Jack.

  52. Paulina Garces says:


  53. Paulina Garces says:

    So cool! Love Jack Sparrow it´s so funny

  54. Kristal says:

    To answer the first post – Johnny Depp became the biggest star in the world when he hopped on the Disney train and helped them bring in over a billion dollars in the US, not to mention a legacy of cash for the Mouse. That's how you become that role.

  55. Paul Telling says:

    I LOVE JOHNNY DEPP AND I LOVE ALICE IN WONDERLAND! Big Big fan and looking forward to Tim Burtons film so much should be friggin awesome! Anything to see it again on the big screen the TV version have been pretty crap good to finally have someone take it seriously!
    For more "Alice in Wonderland" check her out here!
    Paul Telling –
    Creative Communications Creator and Graphic Facilitator
    Pauls Site

  56. shay schmitt says:

    I can't wait till the new Pirates Of Carrabiean comes out the third movie was a little off topic though

  57. teri ellis says:


  58. su says:

    Johnny Depp is the biggest star in the world because he has multigenerational appeal – I've been a fan since 21 Jump street (and my mom loved him then, too), through 'Gilbert Grape and my 15-year old daughter is an absolute Depp fanatic. She's had me drag out all my Depp favourites – we just watched Edward Scissorhands the other day with some of her schoolmates, and it has not gotten old – the screaming started as soon as he came onscreen.
    If he dropped out of the Pirates series, there would be no franchise. He IS the draw. I like Cage and Travolta, but neither have that box-office pull across both nations and generations that he has.
    Did you not see the reaction at the teen choice awards after the second Pirates when he came on stage cleanshaven? Half the audience did not know who he was, but was screaming just on the "Who IS that?" appeal; it only intensified when they realised it was Depp. Even Travolta can't do that. An actor who is good at his craft and popular with females of all ages, as well as young males…well – what else do you want?

  59. glaiza astrero says:

    Im a big fan of johnny., because he is a very good actors I watch almost all of his movie and Im still going to watch all of his up coming movie in the future. he always get satisfaction to the rule that he play thats why people love's his character so much

  60. You you could edit the page title Johnny Depp (in Jack Sparrow costume) surprises Disney D23 Expo audience | Hero Complex – Los Angeles Times to more specific for your blog post you create. I liked the the writing all the same.

  61. […] but Johnny Depp has been a good soldier (and a good sport) when it comes to waving the flag at splashy promotional events and reaching out to fans who adore the character Jack Sparrow and his fey and besotted brand of […]

  62. BAH says:

    Nicholas Cage is a horrible actor. I don't know how people can claim he is bigger than Johnny Depp. Cage is known as the actor everyone loves to hate.

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