ABOVE: Johnny Depp's inspiration for his character 'Tonto' in The Lone Ranger film More at: http://kirbysattler.sattlerartprint.com/
It was clear from this first photo released from The Lone Ranger set last month, that Johnny Depp was sticking by his word to make his Tonto a radical departure from the Jay Silverheels' Tonto of the the 1950s-era television show.
But ever since the photo still of Depp and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger was made public, inquiring minds have been asking: What exactly is the origin of his black-and-white painted warrior?
“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 explained that the lines of paint on the Native American’s face looked to him like a cross-section of the man’s emotional life.
“There’s this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, and 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,” he said.”That makeup inspired me.”
The painting also provided inspiration for Tonto’s headdress. “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.”...
For his part, Depp has said his motivation to play the character came from disliking how Tonto was relegated to subservience in the old... TV series. While the look may not be historically authentic, Depp wants Tonto’s character to be honorable and self-reliant...
“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, or the history of cinema at the very least — especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Ranger’s assistant,” Depp told EW. “As you’ll see, it’s most definitely not that.”
The Lone Ranger, directed by the original Pirates of the Caribbean filmmaker Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, opens May 13, 2013.