Johnny Depp is embracing his "Lone Ranger" character's culture. The actor was made an honorary member of the Comanche tribe in a ceremony on May 16.
Comanche Nation tribal member LaDonna Harris told the Associated Press on May 22 that the tribal chairman presented Depp with a proclamation at her Albuquerque home. According to Harris, the Comanche adoption tradition means she now considers Depp her son.
The 48-year-old actor is currently in New Mexico, shooting the film in which he plays sidekick Tonto in the adaptation of the television series "Lone Ranger." Armie Hammer plays the titular "Ranger" in the movie.
Depp's spokesperson confirmed the actor participated in a ceremony, but did not provide any other details or a statement from the actor. Harris said Depp was "humbled," according to the wire service report. She read interview where Depp identified himself as being part Native American and ran the idea of adopting the actor into the Comanche tribe past her adult children. They agreed.
Tonto is full-blooded Comanche in the new "Lone Ranger" film, according to an Entertainment Weekly interview with Depp from April. In past interviews, Depp has said he 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 Comanche Nation is based in Lawton, Oklahoma and half of its 15,000 members live in southwestern Oklahoma.
"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."
In that same interview, Depp explained the inspiration behind Tonto's look in the film, which is based off a painting by artist Kirby Sattler titled "I Am Crow."
The "Lone Ranger" 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 "Lone Ranger" 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. The movie is set for release on May 31, 2013.