Arts & Entertainment

NPR: Johnny Depp looking to 'right the wrongs' in Tonto role

A poster for The Lone Ranger.

Actor Johnny Depp explains why he played Tonto in the film version of The Lone Ranger:
Johnny Depp, who helped create Tonto's character for the new movie, says he grew up watching reruns of the TV series, which he says was pure entertainment.

"But even at the ripe old age of 5 or 6 or 7, watching that on TV, I had the very distinct feeling that there was something very wrong," he says from a hotel room in Lawton, Okla., before a special screening of the new movie. "Tonto never deserved to be called a sidekick."

Depp wanted to play Tonto as the Lone Ranger's equal partner. "In my own small way, it was my attempt to right the wrongs of what had been done with regards to the representation of Native Americans in cinema."

Tonto is first seen in Disney's new The Lone Ranger on display at a sideshow diorama labeled "noble savage." Depp says the character is meant to be humorous — the Lone Ranger even kids him about the word Tonto meaning "dummy" in Spanish. Depp's Tonto is a deadpan spirit warrior from the Comanche tribe.

Get the Story:
Does Disney's Tonto Reinforce Stereotypes Or Overcome Them? (NPR 7/2)

Related Stories:
Mary Pember: Johnny Depp taps into his inner Tonto in video (7/2)
NYT: 'Lone Ranger' isn't Johnny Depp's first role as an Indian (7/1)
WSJ: Other White actors with Indian roles on the big screen (6/28)
Opinion: Native media ignored at 'Lone Ranger' press junket (06/24)
The Onion: Indian Country in love with Tonto in 'Lone Ranger' (6/20)
Interview with Sonny Skyhawk on Indian roles in Hollywood (06/12)
Opinion: Blatant racism in Tonto's portrayal in 'The Lone Ranger' (06/03)

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