The actor received the first ever distinguished artisan award for his work in films like "Edward Scissorhands," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland."
Depp's honor was presented by his long-time collaborator and makeup artist Joel Harlow, who is nominated for an Academy Award this year for makeup in "The Lone Ranger." Depp also starred in the film.
"This is a great honor, but glancing up at the screen I realize what a ridiculous thing I've done," joked Depp while accepting his trophy after clips of his work were shown at Paramount Studios theatre on Saturday evening.
"I mean seriously, why do they still give me jobs?" he added. "I've done a lot of things...I should probably apologize for a few, but I won't."
Praising the work of the makeup artists who've helped him "find the root of each character," the soft-spoken actor said he liked when his face was molded in "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
"I found, oddly, that I liked being encased in all of that stuff," he said. "I try something different each time as an actor with the amazing help of makeup artists who have made my whole career."
Resembling the boozy party that is the Golden Globes rather than the formal Oscars, the makeup and hair stylists awards, which honors the best in the business from film to television, was a reunion for the behind-the-scenes artists. Squeals echoed throughout the auditorium as artists with multi-colored hair and thick cat-eye style makeup hugged and kissed.
"It's our circle or little family's time to celebrate," said Harlow prior to the ceremony.
As an ode to visual effects, a woman painted white and dressed in white stood in the lobby balancing a large headpiece made of flowers as she was lit by green lights. Host Tom Arnold later joked she looked "edible, like a big white cake."
There to present the award for best contemporary hair styling to the stylists for "Lee Daniels' the Butler," best supporting actress Oscar nominee June Squibb called the green lighting "wild." Turns out she loves the color. She's even asked Tadashi Shoji to make her a green dress for Oscar night. "I've seen a sketch and it's wonderful!" she added.
Some of the evening's other awards went to Oscar nominees "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" for best special makeup effects and "Dallas Buyers Club" for best period and/or character makeup, while best contemporary hair styling in a television series went to "The Voice."
Makeup artist Dick Smith and hairstylist Gail Ryan received lifetime achievement awards.
Jane Lynch, Ed Asner, Johnny Knoxville, Nicollette Sheridan and Melissa Leo were among the presenters at the charming awards show that even included the engagement of a gay couple.
"Just have fun, that's all this is about," said Sue Cabral-Ebert, president of the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. "It's not brain surgery."
Could a gaffers and grips gala be next?
"You should see the electrical staff's awards," joked Arnold. "It's madness!"
The Oscar ceremony will take place March 2.