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.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.