The Lone Ranger is officially a thing now, with an active search under way for the mask-wearing Texas Ranger to star alongside Johnny Depp’s Native American sidekick Tonto. Only Tonto might not be as much of a sidekick in this particular telling of the story. Depp, who is believed to be part Cherokee or Creek, recently revealed that he’s got some plans for his treatment of the character in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“I remember watching [the TV show] as a kid, with Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore, and going: ‘Why is the fucking Lone Ranger telling Tonto what to do?’ I liked Tonto, even at that tender age, and knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here. That’s stuck with me,” he said.
“When the idea came up [for the movie], I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to — ‘eliminate’ isn’t possible — but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head.”
Depp doesn’t get into any further specifics on the character than that, though his words are in keeping with his previous statements about how Tonto will be treated. In an interview earlier this year, Depp said, “I always felt Native Americans were badly portrayed in Hollywood films over the decades. It’s a real opportunity for me to give a salute to them. Tonto was a sidekick in all the Lone Ranger series. [This film] is a very different approach to that partnership. And a funny one I think.”
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