Even if you aren’t familiar with the original look of Tonto on TV’s The Lone Ranger, it’s pretty obvious Johnny Depp‘s reinterpretation of it is totally out of left field. Depp is currently sporting this look on the set of The Lone Ranger with director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Armie Hammer as the title character and in a new interview, he revealed the surprising inspiration behind the striking look. Read his quotes below.

Johnny Depp spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the new look of Tonto (above) and revealed he was inspired by this painting by Kirby Sattler called I Am Crow, which was officially licensed for the movie.

Here’s Depp:

I’d actually seen a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, and looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it. The stripes down the face and across the eyes … it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean.

He elaborated:

There’s this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side. I saw these parts, almost like dissecting a brain, these slivers of the individual. That makeup inspired me.

But what about the bird hat?

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.

Depp also once again stated that his role as Tonto is not a stereotype or a supporting performance:

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. As you’ll see, it’s most definitely not that.

For more on Depp and the Sattler painting, head over to Entertainment Weekly. The Lone Ranger opens May 13, 2013.

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