For a few months now, people have been trying to figure out what the deal is with Johnny Depp’s depiction of Tonto in Jerry “Jake Gyllenhaal is my Prince of Persia” Bruckheimer’s remake of “The Lone Ranger.” There were a lot of questions specifically about the dead crow sitting on his headdress, since it is not a known Native American accouterment.
Today, Depp told Entertainment Weekly that the look is based on a painting by artist Kirby Sattler (painting on the right.) Sattler states on his website:
“The portraits I paint are composites created from a variety of visual references coupled with my imagination. While being broadly based in a historical context, my paintings are not intended to be viewed as historically accurate. I used the combination of face paint and headdress as an artistic expression to symbolize the subject’s essence and his affinity to the Crow.”
What’s laughable (or painful) depending on how you look at it, is that Sattler never intended to have a bird perched on the head of the guy in his painting. The bird in the painting is supposed to be flying past the subject of the portrait as part of a flock of birds in the background.
Depp explains how the bird ended up affixed to Tonto’s head in the film:
"I 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."