Johnny Depp has revealed his inspiration for his Tonto look in the upcoming film "The Lone Ranger."
Depp, 48, referenced artist Kirby Sattler's painting "I Am Crow" as his visual cue to become the Lone Ranger's Comanche "spirit warrior" sidekick. The painting, which is a reference to the Crow people, portrays a man wearing white face paint, with black lines down his face.
"I'd actually seen a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, and looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That's it," Depp told Entertainment Weekly. "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... 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. That makeup inspired me."
Depp's Tonto transformation also took inspiration from Sattler's headpiece, which features a crow and black crow feathers, which flow into the man's long black hair.
"It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior's head," Depp said of the painting. "It looked to me like it was sitting on top. I thought: Tonto's got a bird on his head. 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."
In the film, Depp stars opposite the Lone Ranger, portrayed by 25-year-old "Social Network" actor Armie Hammer. Depp is part Cherokee and Creek Indian, tracing his ancestry to his great-grandmother, but several members of the Native American community have voiced concerns about Depp taking on the character.
"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, or the history of cinema at the very least - especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Ranger's assistant," Depp told the entertainment outlet. "As you'll see, it's most definitely not that."
The project comes from the filmmakers of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series and sees Tonto, described as a "spirit warrior on a personal quest," joining forces with John Reid, a lawman who becomes a masked avenger nicknamed the Lone Ranger, in a "fight for justice."
The franchise began as a radio series in the 1930s and inspired films, television shows, comic books and records, as well as the spin-off "The Green Hornet." The "Lone Ranger" franchise sees the main character and Tonto fighting crime in the Old West and spurred the hero's catchphrase, "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!" He shouts it to his horse.
The "Lone Ranger" movie is directed by Gore Verbinski, who directed Depp in the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, and is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who also worked on the hit Disney franchise.
Production on "the Lone Ranger" was delayed last year due to budget issues. Filming began in mid-February. The movie is set for release on May 31, 2013.