Johnny Depp Explains His Version Of Tonto

Earlier this month we showed you the first image of Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger and Tonto in Disney’s big budget Lone Ranger adaptation. Johnny Depp recently spoke to EW about his take on the character, and he took a moment to explain that dead bird he’s using as a hat.

“I’d actually seen a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, and looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it,” Depp said in a recent interview. “The stripes down the face and across the eyes … it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean.”

Depp and Hammer as Tonto and The Lone Ranger

“There’s this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side. I saw these parts, almost like dissecting a brain, these slivers of the individual,” [Depp] said.”That makeup inspired me.”

Kirby Sattler's "I Am Crow"

“It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior’s head. It looked to me like it was sitting on top,” Depp said, which led him to another eureka moment. “I thought: Tonto’s got a bird on his head. It’s his spirit guide in a way. It’s dead to others, but it’s not dead to him. It’s very much alive.”

Am I the only one that imagines a scene where Depp’s animatronic headpiece gives him spiritual advice? And the voice just happens to also be provided by Depp? Seriously, if that’s in the trailer I will be first in line to check that out.

The Lone Ranger is scheduled to ride into theaters on May 31st, 2013.


John Shannon

John Shannon studied Creative Writing at the University of Maine where he also served as a film critic for the Maine Campus Newspaper. He currently resides in the greater Portland area of Southern Maine where he works by day and watches film by night. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @JohnWShannon
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