How Johnny Depp Became Tonto for the Lone Ranger


If we take a look at Johnny Depp’s recent films, we’ll understand why no one could be a better Tonto than he. From pirate movies to Alice in Wonderland , Johnny Depp captures our hearts and minds. He is always a bit different from the rest, ready to seduce you with rugged charm, ruffling everything else. So, the wonder-kid of Hollywood, and sexiest man alive, wears a new cloak now, portraying Tonto in The Lone Ranger. He discloses how he found it quite exciting to once again put his own, personal stamp on a character.

Depp disclosed the fact the the idea of playing a part in the Lone Ranger was presented to him while filming The Rum Diary in Puerto Rico. At that time he had seen a painting of a Native American warrior with stripes down his face. The painting reminded him of his pirate character, Captain Sparrow, and soon he started experimenting with a look. In his words, “I asked my make up artist, Joel Harlow, to help me put something together. So, we did the make up and I asked the photographer to take some shots. And finally I was like ‘Yeah, we’ve found him’, and now he needs to be brought to life”. At first, the ‘bird’ on his head seemed like a bizarre idea. He saw a flying bird over the head of the figure in the painting, and he thought ‘it looks like it’s attached to his head.’  He decided to attach the crow onto his head and became Tonto.

Depp, 50, one of the hottest names in Hollywood, is all set to launch The Lone Ranger, his big-budget summer flick. He approached the role with a sense of serendipity. As a kid he loved to watch the show and identified himself with Tonto. “I always identified with Tonto. And as a kid I wondered why the Indian was the sidekick. Why isn’t he the hero?”, he said. He revealed a little bit of family history to support his Tonto connection. “I was told at a very young age that we have some Indian blood in our family; my great grandmother on mom’s side had quite the look with braids and everything. She was a wonderful, beautiful woman and she lived until 102 and chewed tobacco until the day he died”.

But Johnny assures that his ‘Tonto’ is very much different from the television show. He wants his Tonto to be a ‘colossal redwood.’ He tried hard to depict the true character, “What I wanted to do was to play this character not as a sidekick. I wanted to play him as a warrior and as a man with great dignity and integrity”. He sees it as his small sliver of a contribution to try to portray the dignity of Native Americans.

The Lone Ranger, a buddy film, features Armie Hammer as the ‘Lone Ranger,’ and Johnny as ‘Tonto.’ Depp is quite hopeful about this new character. Armie is the naive, earnest ‘white man’ of the film with a firm eye mask. This Young actor looks like a classic movie star and the chemistry with Tonto works well.  The Lone Ranger team works.

Depp experienced a horse riding incident while shooting the film. The horse, Scout, jumped over a few obstacles with Depp on his back. The horse took a fall, landing on him.  Fortunately, the actor was not seriously injured.

Johnny ‘Tonto’ Depp, the wackiest actor of our time, joined personalities with the character. Now we all get to watch him cast his charm over the audience with his rugged Native American look including a dead crow on his head. How actor Johnny Depp turned into Tonto; how he molds himself into each character, is always a delight.


Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul

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