Actor Johnny Depp is known for bringing a sense of whimsy to his characters, and he isn’t afraid to look a little silly while doing it. He’s channeled Keith Richards for Captain Jack Sparrow, Jonathan Frid for Barnabas Collins, and most recently, a warrior from a painting by Kirby Sattler for Tonto, friend of the Lone Ranger.
The film, which is a modernized version of the popular ’40s radio program–which was later turned into a television series–also stars Armie Hammer, perhaps best known as the Winklevoss twins in 2010’s The Social Network. Hammer plays the Lone Ranger, a masked cowboy who fights injustice in the West.
Depp says he wanted Tonto’s look to reflect the changes he’s brought to the character, mainly by trying to break the stereotypes that have plagued American Indians for years. He also tackles the opinion that Tonto was the Lone Ranger’s sidekick rather than an individual with his own ideas, which is the reason behind his look in the movie and was inspired by a painting.
“I looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it,” Depp said. “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.”
The bird headdress was also inspired by the painting, or rather by Depp’s interpretation of it. He says in the film, it’s meant to act as a sort of spirit guide for Tonto.
While some in the American Indian community aren’t happy with the actor’s portrayal of such an icon in television history, Depp is sure that some will be won over by his performance, by the imagery in the film, and by the score, which will be done by Jack White of The White Stripes.