Johnny Depp Explains Why The Lone Ranger's Tonto Has a Bird on His Head

In an interview with EW, Lone Ranger co-star Johnny Depp explained the startling new look of his character, Tonto, who wears feathers and black and white face paint but, more importantly, has a bird sitting on his head. Inspiration came from a painting entitled "I Am Crow" by artist Kirby Sattler: "It seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean," Depp said. Nobody knows what this means, but sure. WHAT ABOUT THE BIRD??

"It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior’s head. 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.”

Below: A look at the Sattler original, via the artist's official site:



  • danrydell says:


  • Vincent Hanna says:

    Ugh? Really?

    Yes, Johnny Depp clearly has no track record for creating incredible characters.

    Surely, you could do better.

  • mia says:

    yay! more racism. Seriously, would it have KILLED them to cast an actual Native American?!!? No no! Must be a white dude. LIKE OMFG.

    • Bonnie says:

      Okay, don't want an argument here, just thought I would jump in and say J D is part American Indian, Cherokee to be exact. Take a REALLY good close look at him without makeup and you can see it. I hope this helps. Also, I'm with you, if you can cast a person of actual Indian ancestory for a Native American part, they by all means you should.

      • J says:

        Is that why he refuses to take a DNA test? Lets be real, johnny has always been very vague and cryptic about his supposed "indian" heritage, something tells me its just a family myth spun down the pipeline. Yea he might be by looking at him but from the way its perpetuated from him it sounds like he isn't very sure about it... and at this point to get a DNA test and then it turns out he isn't would just make him look silly.

        • Zod says:

          I'm 1/8th Cherokee as well, just like Depp...but that wouldn't give me the right to play a Native American on screen anymore than he does.

        • ali says:

          I wouldn't take a DNA test just to shut up a critic. Would you? Are you that easy-going with your personal information? There is NOTHING more personal than your DNA.

  • Avi says:

    I don't know if he's crazy or he's a genius...probably both!

  • Forge says:

    @ MIA - Johnny Depp is a native american - "Depp was born in Owensboro, Kentucky..." It is possible, perhaps even likely, that he is not American Indian, but he is indeed a native American. Just saying...

  • Mace says:

    Johnny has American Indian ancestry. I think (but don't quote me) he's said it's partly why he wanted to play Tonto, to turn the stereotype on its head. (So to speak. lol)

  • Srijit Ghosh says:

    C'mon people! Fuck Johnny's Indian origin. The man's a fucking genius. I care a damn if he plays an Indian, or Afrikaans, or Chinese or whatever, Coz I know whatever he's playing he'll make it worthwhile.

  • steve says:

    The lone ranger outfit is horrible and not traditional, it makes him look like a bad guy, a big mistake, why cant they ever get it right, also the white hat is to big and doesn't go with the ugly suite, they need to have a good look at Clayton Moore, his hat fitted perfect to his head wasn't overly big, even if they didn't want the light blue suite [buckskin] they should have just made the original buckskin design a little darker, but this new design is like a city guy or lawyer and gives no impression of the lone ranger what so ever, a big mistake on Disney part, they need to speak to the costume designers and start again.

  • matt says:

    what a bunch of critics and over analysis freaks on here! its a fkn movie people. who cares if hes a black guy doing a white role or whatever, doesnt matter if this is an awesome part or not, its probably something he watched as a kid and thought itd be cool to play the part. i agree with srijit all the way. why cant we comment on things about the movie instead of start shit, im tired of the negativity in most posts, grow the fk up people, n no one really cares about your views either so why waste your time on negativity? have a nice day assholes, i became one of you by posting this, thanks for reading.

  • Haruna says:

    I don't care if Johnny Depp is playing a Native American or whatever, but the bird is stupid. It looks like Tonto put a dead animal on his head. It looks silly.

    It reminds me of when Michelangelo put horns on his Moses sculpture because of a bad Bible translation. It was supposed to read "halo." This is a complete (deliberate) misreading of the Sattler painting and the dead bird looks like a memento mori, also makes Tonto look like a pokemon trainer.

    AND the Sattler painting humanizes Crow, look at his face, the lines on the face. Depp looks like a cartoon by comparison. Between the stuffed animal and the face paint, Tonto looks dehumanized. Nice work fellas.

    • john baltzer says:

      Haruna, you have it spot-on. Not only does Depp look cartoonish, but after seeing the trailers, I'm sure the entire movie will come off as a cartoon. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, rest in peace...

  • Bill M says:

    You Pale Face keep your comments to your self. You have hero who wears raccoon on head. Crazy White Man

  • Mcee says:

    So there's debate over Johnny Depp's heretage and not over the shitty "interviewer"

  • Morgan says:

    “Rules and Rules” and “A Half Century of Usage Denialism” by Mark Liberman

  • Angelo says:

    Really are you people so racially tainted that you take a movie and turn it into a political debate really. It's a Disney movie great humor and really worth the watch. I grew up watching the original Lone Ranger. It was a story, who cares who plays the part of who, it's a fictional story. Next you'll be saying they should cast a real which and real dragon, holy crap where will we ever find a real giant for Jack and the beanstalk. You people aren't movie critics, just plain old pathetic asses who feel the world might need your less then stupid reviews. I thought the movie was brilliant. I couldn't care if Johnny was part whatever, he is a brilliant actor and shame on all of you for missing that. He didn't detract from the original, he breathed new life into an old story. I wouldn't wanna watch superman in his silly spandex pants. The characters evolve guys, you should allow your pea brains the same luxury. Dumb twats