Johnny Depp on his Tonto: ‘It’s my small contribution to righting the wrongs’

Johnny Depp

Can I start out this post with a declaration that I’m so excited about the fact that The Lone Ranger is entering its premiere phase? Finally, we’re getting some photos of Johnny looking relatively lovely and groomed while not wearing torn-up hats. Even though the dude is 50 years old, he’s actually starting to look like the old, swoonworthy dreamboat Johnny from the early aughts, but Johnny would probably hate to hear that, so I’ll stop being nice right now. Maybe.

Johnny has been all over the place in the past week. In addition to the official premiere in Los Angeles, Depp also touched down in Lawton, Oklahoma (home of the Comanche tribe) last Friday with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski in tow. Since I’m not the nicest person, I’ve been making jokes about smelling Johnny’s special blend of patchouli and ciggies (downwind) via I-44 for days now. Johnny attended a special screening for the Comanches and took some photos with fans while declaring, “I’m proud to show [this film] to the Comanche Nation and members of the Indian Nations first.” If you’ll recall, Johnny also visited Lawton last October while serving as Grand Marshal of the Comanche nation parade. I have to admit that Johnny seems incredibly sincere in his reasons for accepting the role of Tonto. Dude wanted to right a historical wrong or two, and I’m not sure he succeeds at doing so in this movie, but we’ll see. In that accord, here are some excerpts from Johnny’s new interview with the Daily Mirror:

Johnny Depp

On turning 50: “We kept it simple and we just went to dinner. I find the whole idea of celebrating one’s birthday is like clinging to vanity in a way, which is something I’d rather not cling to. It’s one of those things. It’s another decade… Cool. I didn’t suddenly wake up and go, ‘God my back is killing me!'”

On hiding from the paps: “There’s no disguise I’ve ever been able to get away with, so I have to live my life like a fugitive, like a recluse. But I’m OK with that because I always felt like an outcast. I never felt like I fitted in anywhere.”

His midlife crisis happened at age 19? “I was asking myself, ‘What is life? What am I here for? What shall I do? Does anything matter?’ I chose to, let’s say, soften the process by self-medication.”

He makes Tonto a hero: “I wouldn’t take anything away from Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger, but even when I was five or six I thought there was something wrong. I identified with Tonto and wondered why the Indian was the sidekick. I thought, ‘Why isn’t he the hero?’ I wanted to play him not as a sidekick, but as a warrior and a man with great dignity and integrity. It’s my small contribution to righting the wrongs committed in the past. It was very important to me to represent the American Indians and it’s really the only reason I made the movie.”

On his honorary Comanche name, Mah-Woo-Meh (shapeshifer): “It was quite apt and I take great pride in that choice. The name hadn’t been used for years and they had to get permission from the elders. I’m very proud of it. It’s possibly my greatest memento from anywhere.”

Where do he and Vanessa stand now? I wouldn’t see any weirdness at all in making a film with Vanessa now, whereas before I might have done. We’re on great terms and there’s nothing weird or strange. It’s very normal. She’s a great mommy and a great woman.”

He still loves Vanessa: “If you love, you have to love beyond what you think is love. When the s*** hits the fan you have to keep loving. I know it sounds like some sort of Hallmark card, and I don’t mean it to, but you cannot abandon ship, you know. You’ve got a couple of kids and a woman who’s been good to you. So keep loving, no matter what.”

[From Daily Mirror]

It must be noted that the journo makes specific mention that Johnny is guzzing non-alcoholic beer during this interview. While I have already called him out for using his breakup with Vanessa to promote Lone Ranger in his Rolling Stone interview, perhaps I should just give Johnny a break. I admit that I loved him and Vanessa together — not as much as Johnny and Winona or Johnny and Kate Moss, but yes, there’s a little bit of bias on my end. Johnny seems to have come to terms with this most recent breakup, and yeah, he’s probably going through a second “midlife crisis” with Amber Heard, but that relationship has many tests yet to endure.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN

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59 Responses to “Johnny Depp on his Tonto: ‘It’s my small contribution to righting the wrongs’”

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  1. Kiddo says:

    Oh please. You made a movie and you made money. He is beginning to work my nerves.

    • Irishae says:

      I think Johnny just put himself in the running for Most Eyeroll-Inducing Quote of 2013. Of course we are only half way through the year…

  2. mkyarwood says:

    Uhhhhh, I bet Vanesss didn’t give you any permission to use her name to promote your movie, Johnny.

    • lol says:

      um no he’s just responding to the journalists questions and he’s saying nothing but praise and good things about her. but why would he use her name ? is she even well known internationaly?

    • Italian says:

      Vanessa also used Johnny’s name to promote her last album…remember how much she talked about the song in what Johnny collaborated?

      Johnny gave to her his permission? Probably, not. They don’t need to ask permission. They are beyond that. They have the right to talk whatever they want about their lifes. And Vanessa was/is part of Johnny’s life

  3. Caulfield says:

    And again I find him absolutely lovely.

    • NeoCleo says:

      Totally with you on this one. He’s had his moments of hotel-trashing behavior and serial dating but overall I think he’s turned out well. And I’ve always loved how thoughtful he is to his fans.

  4. flick says:

    “he’s probably going through a second “midlife crisis” ”
    oh please give him a break. what has he done? moving on with his life and dating a younger woman while he still take care of his kids
    he’s not going through anything. best wishes to him

  5. pfeiffer87 says:

    Righting historical wrongs by having another white man play redface in a film portraying Native Americans? (and no him being 1/16th Cherokee does not validate this film)

    • Lea says:

      Thank you!

    • Kiddo says:

      +1000. Yes.

    • Toot says:

      Yeah, that’s my main issue besides the trailer looking crappy.

      • Suzy from Ontario says:

        I have to admit that I was disturbed that an Native American actor was not cast as Tonto. I don’t care what percentage they say Depp is, it just didn’t feel right in the same way that Hollywood used to hire non-Asian actors and then use makeup, etc. to make them look Asian intead of just hiring Asian actors. Just feels wrong. I’m sure the movie will be fine and that he did an okay job, and I guess it’s good that he seems to be very respectful of Native Americans and their culture, but it did feel wrong to me.

    • wonderwoman21 says:

      Same thoughts here. I am disappointed that a Native American actor wasn’t cast in the part. It would be nice to see a NA actor in a big role, instead of a white actor in red face.

      But then again movies won’t even cast actual Mexicans for Mexican roles, even though the American film industry is largely based in Los Angeles. Roles go to European actors like Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz.

    • Jade says:

      THANK YOU!!!!! +90,00000 what ive said all long

      • Genie says:

        If johnny wanted to “right some wrongs” he could have easily made a documentary film on the many ways this country has destroyed the Native Americans (and their culture), took their sacred land, encouraged NA gambling casinos and let uber rich movie stars portray them in “comic book style” movies–all for 1/16 the cost of Johnny’s fee as Tonto. Maybe he should give 1/2 of his money to some serious causes rather than squandering it on his multitudinous PR teams, lawyers, and handlers–all who want a piece of his star. Can’t get behind this movie, no matter how hard he tries to woo us.

    • Leni says:

      Sorry but since you defended Roman Polanski you should ask permission before you speak for anyone other than yourself.

  6. Faye says:

    What a humanitarian! I’m sure the money associated with it wasn’t a motivating factor at all.

    • Kiddo says:

      Or the typical character role that he enjoys playing.

      • @Kiddo says:

        typical character role? not sure if the wise native american indian in the wild west tonto is like the intelligent damned romantic vampire in the 70s barnabas collins and on and on , his characters have absolutley nothing to do with each other

      • Kiddo says:

        Yeah, typical character role in that he needs the costumes, make-up and all that all anymore. You barely see him with his own face, in movies acting in a current day genre.

      • Kiddo says:

        A few too many alls in there.

      • tabasco says:

        sorry, but no matter your opinion of JD, “typical” is the last word that describes his acting. he certainly goes for the “character acting” – – which is basically another way of saying he is one of the very few who actually does NOT play himself in every movie. this is why he’s one of my favorite actors. turning a disney-scripted pirate into a drunken Keith Richards-esque hilarity is one of the best ideas ever. actors talk so much crap about “oohhh, i wanted the character to be this and that” and meanwhile all their roles are the same. Johnny can actuallY DO IT.

      • Kiddo says:


        Typical roles for him, was my point. Read my first post. Also there are plenty of actors who can emote and develop a character, very much unlike themselves, without costumes and make-up. I never said I didn’t like him, the conversation started about how he was acting as if accepting this role was a great humanitarian effort, and it isn’t. I liked him better when he wasn’t as full of himself, as he seems to be now. But to each, his own.

    • binturong says:

      Probably it wasn’t. After those Pirates movies, why on earth would he need more money? I think he’s being sincere that he wanted to do this for the Native American cause. Yes he’s mostly white, but trying to make Tonto a hero instead of a sidekick is a worthy effort.

      And he looks great!! I wonder if his handlers told him to cut the scarf and hat crap? He still needs to work on the excess jewelry, but he’s looking great.

      And ITA with the person above who said it’s not a “mid life crisis” simply to go through a breakup and date another younger woman.

      • Kiddo says:

        So, I guess he decided not to take a paycheck then and donated the money to a worthy cause?

      • @Kiddo says:

        actually he cutted his salary to get the movie made and co-produced it

      • Bubulle says:

        And by becoming a producer is entitled to even more money and let’s not forget he dropped out of Black Mask because they wouldn’t give him his usual 20 million paycheck. He sure is greedy this days.

      • Kiddo says:

        @Kiddo says:
        June 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

        actually he cutted his salary to get the movie made and co-produced it

        This looks weird since I didn’t say it.

      • Faye says:

        Presumably, he wanted more money even after making a lot of it for the same reason all of us want more. And if he really wanted to help Native Americans, he could just donate money and become a spokesperson or something without making a movie.

        I’m not saying he doesn’t have a genuine desire to help. But it’s silly to pretend he made this movie, and took producer rights for it, out of some sort of altruism.

      • Kiddo says:


        That was my point as well. I always liked him, but he’s beginning to sound pretentious in that what he is doing has a greater importance than it actually does.

      • Suzie says:

        @ Kiddo Oh please, donning the producer hat is also about making the film happen, Disney had concerns with the budget and other issues. It’s not just about money, he’s going to get that no matter what he plays and could’ve played it safe without all this controversy. The main reason this movie happened is because of his desire to portray Tonto in a respectable way.

        Casting a Native American actor is a wishful thinking but let’s be real, with a budget like this Disney wouldn’t have bothered without Depp’s star power. He might be a valuable star for Disney but do you think he could inflence the casting decisions of a powerful studio?

        Portrayal in pop culture is not an insignificant issue and, if done right, means more than a documentary which probably three people will see. It is in that respect he talks about his role as a small contribution. Yes,this whole reliving of his childhood dream and his perception of wrongs seem bit pretentious but his intent is sincere and good. Not sure how he acts like a humanatarian or why the need to be all sarcastic about it.

  7. Eleonor says:

    It looks like he is showering regularly.

  8. KeepRocking says:

    That’s right!Give the guy a break!You’ve been trashing him for almost 2 years so I think it’s time stop.Personally I don’t see something to hate on Johnny.He seems like a nice and kind person,he is generous and he also seems like a great dad.What happened between him and Vanessa remains their business but I have to say that during the last years with her he looked miserable,sad and he was drinking a lot.Lately he looks incredibly handsome,happy and healthy.It looks like Johnny is himself again and I’m happy for him.

    • Melanie says:

      Exactly, I never got the sudden trashing. His dressing sense had always been a bit vain and he’s often talked about it.

      As for his relationships, Vanessa herself was said to be a Kate Moss rebound and infact was blamed for the Depp-Moss break-up at the time. However a kid within 3 months of dating and a decade long relationship indicates much more than a rebound relationship. He just seems to break-up for good and fall hard in love again.That relationship has run it’s course and he looked miserable for a long time before finally going for a clean break-up and moving on with Amber who was around at the right time. He certainly looks improved in many ways so the relationship is probably not a bad thing.

      This is why I never got the whole ‘mid-life crisis’ bashing. He’s the same guy. If people didn’t have a problem then why now? The whole thing is stereotypical, totally judgemental and just lame.

      What’s really annoying is all this cynicism against him playing Tonto.He plays a fictional Native American character as a hero and a warrior in a Disney movie. He says it’s his small tribute towards respecting the culture. What is so offensive about all this is beyond me. You may not like the idea of this movie but getting all sarcastic about his intent just seems unfair and rabble-rousing IMO.

  9. GiGi says:

    Ok. So you guys know I’m half Native American. And I obviously am only speaking for myself here – not the entirety of the Anishinabe/First Nations/American Indian population.

    But…. I don’t have a problem with this. Like, at all. I think Johnny Depp honors my culture deeply – maybe even more than some of us born to it. I think he’ll do a good job. And. It’s acting – he’s not going for a Nobel Prize here.

    Regarding his blood rights – many tribes honor down to 1/32 – I’m calling him ok in my book. In fact, a lot of tribes don’t even use blood quantum but go by ancestral lineage instead.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you. In short, I think what he’s saying is incredibly pretentious but I don’t think he knows that and it comes from a very sincere place. No, being in a movie doesn’t substantively right the big wrong, but as an actor he used the tools available to him (acting) to do what he could, which was to do right by this iconic character. When I was a kid though, I never thought of Tonto as a sidekick, I thought of him as the partner along for the ride, tolerant of his white friend, but secretly rolling his eyes. Kind of like when I try to set up barriers and gates to keep my cat from getting into places…he watches me with this “silly human” look but doesn’t make fun of me when he gets through them all. Perhaps I’m over thinking this.

  10. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I liked what he said about his ex. I think he looks handsome and clean again. I always wanted him to smile more until I saw the third picture. I feel mean now for saying that. The end.

    • Bacon! says:

      That was back during the making of one of the Pirates movies- he had actual gold teeth put in. I think he said the fake ones just felt wrong, plus he’s a little nuts.

  11. Maggie says:

    He’s eccentric and cool and hot all at the same time. I love him!

  12. wonderwoman21 says:

    I feel like if Johnny Depp really wanted to “right some wrongs” he could have taken his place as producer and cast a Native American actor in the lead, that would have been ground breaking.

    Depp has enough money to go to any reservation in the US and do a casting call for a Native American role.

    • UsedToBeLulu says:

      There are plenty of wonderful Native American actors out there that would have fit the bill. Unfortunately none of them have the star power of Johnny Depp. I do feel his statement was pretentious, but I think he has a good heart. Lord knows he has the right cheekbones for the role.

      Ironically, this is the least ‘Indian-like’ he has looked in a loooong time. LOL

      Lulu – of Choctaw indian ancestry.

      • wonderwoman21 says:

        Maybe I’m dating myself but the only native actors I can think of are adam beach, irene bedard (my mom met her! Lol), and eddie spears. Plus some small part actors whose names i dont know.

        I think if the movie had johnny depp’s name attached and he filles the role with raw talent it would do well and make a statement. I would LOVE to see it and so would my family.

        Signed Ms. Wonder- of yaqui and presumably nahuatl or mayan ancestry (whatever made my mexican blood brown 😉 )

  13. Mala says:

    I’ve read some comments about the movie, and most of these said that surprisingly, there’s nothing offensive about Johnny’s character. Quite the contrary, his performance is even touching.

    On the look part. I think he looks great and happy. He seems well balanced again. Like the “old” himself again! (Thanks to Ms. Heard also. This guy is a foolish romantic, It’s quite obvious she has more than something to do with his change)

  14. Love says:

    I think his happiness has to do with his relationship with Amber Heard. She’s with him all the time. She was in a ranch New Mexico for weeks with him. She returned to LA because he has his promotion. She was doing a interview in NYC the same day that Johnny was on Letterman and now, I just a saw a pic with fan, she is in Moscow where Johnny is promoting his movie

    What I can’t understand, why she goes everywhere with him, if at the end she isn’t present at any of his premieres? just to wait for him at the hotels?

    • JennJ says:

      Actually, I’d take that deal too and travel but skip the craziness of the premieres. I hope she is not waiting for him at the hotel but enjoying herself doing other things.

      • Meh says:

        Hope so.
        Her fans say she’ll be at the afterparty anyway. So it’s not like she won’t be having fun there 🙂

    • Kari says:

      What kind of voodoo is she using (don’t mean in a negative way) that’s already gotten her a tattoo on his arm? Vanessa or Kate didn’t even get that! That’s in Winona territory….
      And to top it off, she got him to bathe? This chick is some hybrid or a throwback or something! How she do that????????

  15. tabasco says:

    good god, that man’s bone structure should be preserved for all of humanity.

  16. dcypher1 says:

    I’m glad johnny made a movie where he got to play something that represents his heritage in a positive way. I’m part n.a. too so I’m glad there’s finally a movie that not exploiting our culture but potraying it with dignity and respect.

  17. Agnetha says:

    I am going to take my dad and kids to see this for their July birthdays. I think it looks ok, but they are so excited to see it. I like Johnny’s movies most of the time and he sounds like he put a lot of effort into it so hopefully it is good!

  18. tabasco says:

    also – – on my list of reasons i love me some johnny – – i have absolutely no idea what either of his kids look like.

  19. ParisPucker says:

    can we talk about his terrible fashion choices for a second? I mean, a rosary necklace? A zoot suit? Unhemmed pants and dracula collar? Gold teeth?!? That is bleach to my eyes. He would be Robert Redford sexy if he wasn’t trying so hard. It’s a bit disappointing actually..:/

    • lol says:

      he’s not trying hard or anything he is dressing like this since ages it shouldn’t be a surprise now

  20. AustinMJ says:

    I would like to point out that Johnny doesn’t look very happy for a man who traded his “wife” in on a new model. You got what you wanted! Why the miserable face JD?

    Midlife crisis is NOT a good look. For anyone.

    • lol says:

      how excactly did he trade her if he started to date someone else after the offical spilt? he looks happy and much happier in the moscow pictures

      he’s not going through anything

  21. Jen says:

    Yawn! That’s right, give him a break! I for one didn’t even get what the deal was about. He always had a vain fashion style right from the time he started out.

    All his realtionships are same. Fiery and gone once the passion blows out.In this respect Vanessa seems to be the same as Winona or Kate. His women are all same. This one probably lasted longer because of the kids because being a dad has indeed changed him a lot. It’s probably the most important thing at this point. The kind of relationships he has is probably best for him and the kind of women he chhoses to be with.

    Unless he has been going through mid-life crisis for his whole life he’s pretty much the same Depp – clothes, tatoos, hair, music, Bohemian whatever. This is why the kind of Depp gossip that has been going on is boring.

    Amber Heard isn’t much of an actress or Hollywood personality but from what I’ve seen of her isn’t altogether without the kind of class or persona that JD seems to go for. She’s boring but not crazy and not without brains.

    Age is an issue here but only time can tell whther it’ll be another Kate Moss or Vanessa or something else.