When the first image from Gore Verbinski’s upcoming The Lone Ranger came online earlier this year, there was much discussion about Johnny Depp’s unique visual approach to the character of Tonto. EW caught up with Depp and learned that the bird-on-head design 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 told the outlet. “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.”
Although the original piece of art (which you can check out by clicking here) had the bird merely flying behind the subject’s head, Depp appreciated the look and made some alterations.
“I thought: Tonto’s got a bird on his head,” the actor continued. “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.”
According to Depp, his interpretation of Tonto will go even further against the grain of what fans of the character might expect.
“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.”
Also starring Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter, the big screen adaptation will be released by Walt Disney Pictures on May 31, 2013.