Johnny Depp Brings Painting to Life Through Lone Ranger Character Tonto

Lisa Mason Lee - April 25, 2012

Johnny Depp admits that he didn’t come up with his ‘Lone Ranger’ character Tonto’s looks on his own. Depp says he basically took the entire look from something already in existence.
Depp let the cat out of the bag, and tells the world that he got the idea for Tonto’s looks from a painting. The painting he is talking about, is by artist Kirby Sattler, and it’s a painting of a Native American man. The painting is named “I Am Crow”.
Depp says tells EW, why he chose to take the man’s looks in the painting, and use them for Tonto, explaining, “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. 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.”

Depp has just made Sattler’s stock go way up, and Sattler knows it, because he already posted a Depp as Tonto picture on his site, comparing the similarity to Sattler’s painting. Sattler even claims that the demand for a reproduction print of “I Am Crow”, has become ‘overwhelming’ as of late.

One difference between the painting and Tonto, is that the crow in the painting is ‘flying over and by’ the man’s head, but Depp decided to make the crow sit on Tonto’s head as a headdress! Depp explains the funny change to EW, saying, “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.”

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We’re glad business is picking up for the painter thanks to Depp.

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