Johnny Depp on going Tonto in ‘The Lone Ranger’

Johnny Depp tries to demolish old portrayals of Native Americans on film in "The Lone Ranger." Credit: Peter Mountain
Johnny Depp tries to demolish old portrayals of Native Americans on film in “The Lone Ranger.”
Credit: Peter Mountain

“The Lone Ranger” may be the biggest western to come out of Hollywood in years, but it’s not star Johnny Depp’s first venture into the frontier. In 1995, Depp starred as an out-of-his-depths city slicker in Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” — not that he’s seen it. “I feel somehow that Jim Jarmusch made a great and amazing sort of epic poem of a western with ‘Dead Man,’” Depp says. “Haven’t seen the film, but I love Jim, and I know what he’s capable of, and from what I’ve heard, it’s — and I did read the script by the way, and it was — it was wonderful.”

Now, about that “Lone Ranger.” In taking on such the iconic character of Tonto in such an iconic property, Depp — who spearheaded and executive-produced the project — saw “The Lone Ranger” as a chance to reverse a lot of Hollywood’s past mistakes. “In the history of cinema, the Native American has been portrayed as a savage or as something lesser than. And it was important to me to at least take a good shot at erasing that,” he says.

On a more personal level, there’s also the way Tonto himself — the Lone Ranger’s stoic sidekick — had been portrayed. “As a very young child, I was always perturbed by the idea of Tonto being a sidekick. That just didn’t register properly in my head,” Depp explains. “I just thought it was potentially an opportunity to right the wrong, you know?”

And it’s not just Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans that needs addressing, Depp insists. There are centuries of injustice and stereotypes he hopes his flashy summer blockbuster can help diminish. “I wanted to convey that the Native Americans were only deemed savages when Christopher Columbus hit the wrong f—ing place, and decided that he’d hit India,” Depp says. “That’s our history. He thought he hit India, and called the people Indians. That’s our history, you know? I mean, that’s pretty f—ing weird, seriously.”

Tonto is another addition to Johnny Depp’s coterie of kooky characters, including the Mad Hatter, Hunter S. Thompson and Edward Scissorhands. But perhaps the Grand Poobah of Depp’s alter egos is “Pirates of the Caribbean” mainstay Captain Jack Sparrow. So between the rakish pirate and the wily Comanche warrior, who would win in a fight?

“It’s over for Tonto,” Depp says with a weary shake of his head. “Yeah, it’s over for Tonto. Captain Jack is far too dark. It wouldn’t take long and it would be unpleasant.”


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.