LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Johnny Depp is becoming the new face of Walt Disney Studios. The actor will preside over the manic tea party in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" as the Mad Hatter and will play Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," whose latest screen incarnation is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.
Disney formally announced the casting Wednesday at a studio presentation. It also said it is officially in development on a fourth installment of "Pirates of the Carribean," which would see Depp reprise his popular role of Captain Jack.
On the "Alice" front, Depp and Burton -- who first worked together in 1990's "Edward Scissorhands" and most recently collaborated on "Sweeney Todd" -- have formed one of the longest-running director-actor partnerships in modern Hollywood. When Burton committed to filming a new live-action/CG-animated version of "Alice," Depp was touted as the most likely candidate to play the Mad Hatter -- after all, having worked with Burton on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," he's practiced in wearing a top hat.
Mia Wasikowska, the young Australian actress who appeared in HBO's "In Treatment," has the film's title role.
Matt Lucas, who stars in the sketch comedy series "Little Britain USA," which debuts on HBO Sunday, is set to play the dual roles of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
"Ranger," meanwhile, puts Depp back in business with Bruckheimer, who produced the "Pirates" movies. Tonto is the Native American colleague of cowboy hero the Lone Ranger. The casting could stir up controversy with Native American groups, who might accuse the studio of putting a white actor in the role. One factor that could counter such an argument is Depp's mixed ancestry, which includes German, Irish, and Cherokee.
"Ranger" is being written by "Pirates" scribes Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and has no director at this time.