Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2013 Contents Friday July 5, 2013 • Issue 95
A few years ago Johnny Depp de-
cided that it was time to kick start
a project that had been on his mind
for a while.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer---a fre-
quent collaborator who made the
hugely successful "Pirates of the
Caribbean" films in which Depp stars
as the lovable rogue Jack Sparrow ---
had been intrigued with the idea of
making a contemporary, big screen
version of "The Lone Ranger," the
classic 1950s TV series about the
masked cowboy crime fighter and his
partner, Tonto, but the project was
still languishing in development---until
Depp, in his own inimitable way,
Depp, in typical fashion, figured
that the best way to get the ball
rolling would be to get into character
as Tonto. He enlisted the help of two
close friends---makeup artist Joel
Harlow and photographer Peter
Mountain---and set about creating his
distinctive version of how Tonto
would look in the hope that it would
convince Bruckheimer and the studio,
Disney, to give it the green light.
Depp is, of course, a master of dis-
guise and a brilliant character actor
as well as one of Hollywood's best-
loved leading men. He based his 'look'
for Tonto on a painting he'd seen of a
Native American warrior and added
his own, unique flourishes.
The result was spectacular and it
convinced Bruckheimer---and indeed
Disney Studios --- that it was time for
"The Lone Ranger" and Tonto to ride
back onto the screen.
"I was doing 'The Rum Diary' with
Bruce (Robinson) in Puerto Rico, and
I had already found a painting of a
Native American warrior with these
stripes down his face," Depp explains.
"I asked my makeup artist, Joel
Harlow, who is a wizard, to help me
put something together. So we did
the makeup and I asked the photog-
rapher, Peter Mountain, to take some
"We went out into these filthy
weeds and started taking some pho-
tographs and Peter printed them out
and showed me and I was like, 'Yeah, I
think we've found him and now he
needs to be brought to life.' I called up
Jerry and said, 'Look, when I'm back
in LA, I'd love to sit down with you.'
"And so we met up and I handed
him five or six photographs and Jerry
said, 'He's fantastic. Who is that?'
And I said, 'It's me!' And Jerry said,
'Jesus! Can I take these with me?'
And I said, ' Yeah, sure, show them to
"And I also showed them to Dick
Cook [former chairman of Walt Dis-
ney Studios] and the responses were
all very positive because for them, I
think there was some element of
Captain Jack Sparrow, a Captain
Jack--type character. And everybody
got excited about it, including me,
and then I went after Gore (Verbin-
ski) to direct it."
The director immediately said 'yes'
and that meant that the creative
team behind the fabulously success-
ful "Pirates of the Caribbean" films---
Depp, Bruckheimer and Verbinski,
who helmed the first three---were
"The Lone Ranger" began its jour-
ney into popular American culture as
a radio show back in 1933 and quickly
became a national phenomenon. The
TV show, starring Clayton Moore as
the masked lawman and Jay Silver-
heels as Tonto, first aired in 1949 and
ran until 1957.
Depp remembers watching repeats
of the TV show when he was a boy.
The actor promises that his Tonto
will be an equal partner---and cer-
tainly not a sidekick---to the Lone
Ranger and honour the noble, warrior
tradition of his Native American her-
"'The Lone Ranger' was just one of
those sort of regular things that you
would see on television as a kid. I
watched it and I always identified
with Tonto," he says. "And even as a
kid I wondered why the Indian was
"And it wasn't that 'The Lone
Ranger' was overtly disrespectful in
the way he treated Tonto but I just
thought, 'why is he the guy that has
to go and do this and that? Why isn't
he the hero?' So that was something
that was always on my mind. And I
was told at a very young age that we
have some Indian blood in our family...
who knows how much -- maybe very
little, I don't know.
"So what I wanted to do was play
this character not as the sidekick to
the Lone Ranger. I wanted to play
him as a warrior and as a man with
great integrity and dignity. It's my
small sliver of a contribution to try
and right the wrongs that have been
committed in the past."
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