Johnny Depp doesn’t want you to think of Tonto as the Lone Ranger’s sidekick.
Native Americans are more often than not depicted as the villains in American cinema. The star of Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger hopes that his portrayal of Tonto will help repair some of the wrongs made by Hollywood in the past.
“Since cinema has been around, Native Americans have been treated very poorly by Hollywood. What I wanted to do was play Tonto not as a sidekick — like ‘Go fetch a soda for me, boy!’ — but as a warrior with integrity and dignity,” he recently explained to the folks at Total Film.
He added, “It’s my small sliver of a contribution to try to right the wrongs of the past.”
This isn’t the first time Johnny Depp has portrayed a Native American character on the big screen. The actor, who says he is “one sixteenth Native American,” previously directed and starred in the controversial 1997 drama The Brave.
Depp admitted that it’s difficult to trace his heritage.
“Basically that means it’s likely that, somewhere along the line, you were a product of rape,” he added.
The actor said that Tonto’s look in The Lone Ranger was inspired by the work of Kirby Sattler. It was one of the artist’s paintings that help create the face of “warrior.”
“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.
Johnny Depp stars alongside Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger, which is based on the popular 1950s television series. The film finds the busy actor re-teaming once again with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. The pair also joined forces for the animated adventure Rango.
You can celebrate Johnny Depp’s 50th birthday by checking out the trailer below.
The Lone Ranger also stars Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, and Helena Bonham Carter. The film hits theaters on July 3.
What do you think about Johnny Depp’s interpretation of Tonto?