Johnny Depp ‘Created’ His Tonto For ‘Lone Ranger’

'He's not the servant that he was in the radio series,' producer Jerry Bruckheimer tells MTV News about Depp's character in Disney film.
By Josh Wigler, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Johnny Depp
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/ Getty Images

Don't let the title deceive you: "The Lone Ranger" is all about Tonto.

Well, perhaps the movie isn't all about Johnny Depp's wildly imagined Native American hero, but he'll certainly be at the forefront of the upcoming Disney blockbuster from director Gore Verbinski. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer told MTV News as much at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, revealing that while "The Lone Ranger" is heavily focused on the masked gunslinger (Armie Hammer), Depp's Tonto will play a pivotal role in relating that story.

"It's him telling the story of the Lone Ranger. ... It's his voice," Bruckheimer explained of how Depp's Tonto steps into the spotlight of the story. "He's not the servant that he was in the radio series and television series. He's quite a different character."

Even if Tonto weren't at the center of the film, the visuals of the character alone would make him impossible to ignore. Depp recently spoke at length about why his Tonto looks the way he does, saying he drew inspiration from a Kirby Sattler painting.

"I think Johnny creating that character, he did it on his own," Bruckheimer told us. "He went out with his makeup people and found an iconic image that he loved and created it for himself. He did the makeup, showed me a picture and said, 'Let's go make this movie.' It just took a while to convince Disney to go make it!"

Indeed, not long ago, "The Lone Ranger" very nearly rode off into the sunset before it even got on the horse, when Disney threatened to pull the plug due to budget concerns. Those issues were ultimately ironed out, and "Lone Ranger" will ride on with a huge scope intact, budget cuts be damned.

"Minor things [were cut], nothing anybody will miss," Bruckheimer said about how the cuts affected the film. "The whole wonderful train sequences are still there. It's a big movie. It really is.

"It has some fantasy elements in it. It's grounded, but there are spiritual elements to it," the producer continued about the film's tone. "It's its own thing. It certainly has elements of humor, which Gore brings to everything he does, and great action as well. It's kind of like 'The Odd Couple' meets 'The Wild Bunch.' "

Of course, the reteaming of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trio of Verbinski, Depp and Bruckheimer begs the question: Will we see "The Lone Ranger" ride again in future movies? Bruckheimer wasn't sure if this film would launch a franchise or not, but he admitted that he "didn't know 'Pirates' was going to be a franchise" either.

"Hopefully this one's going to work, and if they allow us to make more, we'll make more," he said.

Check out everything we've got on "The Lone Ranger."

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