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Johnny Depp on his ideas behind Tonto from The Lone Ranger

The first image from Disney’s The Lone Ranger provided quite a shock for those expecting a close allegiance to the original TV series characters. Discussion about Johnny Depp’s unique take on the character of Tonto dominating the conversation. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Depp and learned that the bird-on-head look was inspired by “I Am Crow”, a painting by artist Kirby Sattler.

“[I] looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it,” Depp said. “The stripes down the face and across the eyes … 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.”

The original artwork is a bit different than Depp’s take (you can see it here here). The bird is merely flying behind the subject’s head. Depp decided to use that as inspiration and make some alterations.

“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.”

There are other signs The Lone Ranger won’t be your typical western. Depp says his interpretation of Tonto will provide even more fodder for traditionalists.

“The whole reason I wanted to play Tonto is to try to [mess] around with the stereotype of the American Indian that has been laid out through history,” he said.“…especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Ranger’s assistant. As you’ll see, it’s most definitely not that.”

The question now is, will this Gore Verbinski led picture recapture the magic of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and bring in the box office bucks? The Lone Ranger also stars Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter. The movie will be released by Walt Disney Pictures on May 31, 2013.

7 thoughts on “Johnny Depp on his ideas behind Tonto from The Lone Ranger”

  1. Yup, Dark Shadows being the other.

    Considering what we are supposed to get is the hapless Lone Ranger, guided by Shaman Tonto, fighting Native werewolves? Color me uninterested. If there was any justice John Carter would’ve been a hit and the Lone Ranger would’ve taken its place as the ego driven flop it seems sure to be.

    When I’m reading interviews that talk about the classic Lone Ranger that include comments like “That isn’t the story I was interested in telling”, then WHY is this person making a Lone Ranger movie. Isn’t it bad enough what they did to his Grand Nephew (the Green Hornet)?

    I am sick of the way Hollywood takes classic, and well-loved properties, and then screws them up horribly until they no longer resemble the property that was licensed in the first place. That Disney has sunk to this low makes me a VERY unhappy stockholder.

  2. Added Bruckheimer: “It’s the Odd Couple meets The Wild Bunch.”

    Yeah, that is NOT what I want to see in a Lone Ranger movie.

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  4. Yes, let’s make an updated, overblown homage to the original Lone Ranger. That worked out so well when they did “Legend of the Lone Ranger” back in ’81. Lit the box office on fire and re-kindled a renewed interest in the character with moviegoing audiences, as I recall. Oh wait… maybe not.

  5. To be fair, Legend of the Lone Ranger had a LOT of problems. The fact that it was an awful movie was just one of them. The fact that the folks involved with the film got into a VERY public feud and lawsuit with Clayton Moore was another.

    Seriously though, that was a TERRIBLE movie. Making a new version of the Lone Ranger isn’t, in and of itself, a bad idea. Making a new version of the Lone Ranger that is a mockery of what the fans have always loved, and only hopes to draw in new fans through cheap and crappy gimmicks?

    Bad idea.

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