Johnny Depp Signs On To Bring Back Captain Jack In 'Pirates 4'

Disney also nabs Depp for 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Lone Ranger.'

is a busy, busy man. For the next several years, he'll be playing pirate, mad hatter, and cowboys and Indians. And — most important for a certain studio — he'll be doing it all while wearing mouse ears.

The 45-year-old actor, arguably the most desired A-list actor in Hollywood at the moment, made a surprise appearance in Hollywood Wednesday at the "Walt Disney Showcase," a preview of the studio's next several years of movies. As the crowd roared, it was announced that Depp would play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," Tonto in Jerry Bruckheimer's "Lone Ranger" and one additional role.

On Thursday morning (September 25), that role was announced by Depp's reps, confirming the dreams of millions who spent the night sleeping on Orlando Bloom bedsheets: Captain Jack Sparrow will return to fight another day.

According to "Variety," Depp has signed on for a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, returning to the franchise that has earned a combined $2.6 billion at the box office. Although he previously hinted that he'd be open to setting sail again in his most iconic role, it is largely believed that it will be a solo journey, as "Pirates" co-stars Bloom and Keira Knightley have insisted they're finished with the franchise. Last year's "At World's End" concluded with Sparrow setting sail for the Fountain of Youth, likely hinting at the adventure soon to come.

But before audiences see Depp back in his ratty pirate clothes and beaded beard, they can look forward to having a tea party with him in 2010. Stepping into the iconic role of the Mad Hatter, Depp joins previously announced 18-year-old newcomer Mia Wasikowska, who has been chosen to play Alice. The 3-D "Alice in Wonderland" will reunite one of the most successful director-actor duos of the last few decades for the seventh time; Depp has previously collaborated with Burton on everything from "Edward Scissorhands" to "Sweeney Todd."

Most likely sometime between those two films, Depp will hit the screen opposite an unnamed kemo sabe for a 21st century re-imagining of "The Lone Ranger," as previously announced by super-producer Bruckheimer. For a brief period of time, some news outlets believed that Depp would be playing the heroic cowboy — but this morning, the actor's reps insisted that he'd been cast as the Ranger's long-suffering, fiercely loyal Native American sidekick, Tonto. Depp, who has said in interviews that he has some Cherokee and Navajo in his blood, previously portrayed an American Indian in the 1997 film "The Brave."

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