Friday, February 25, 2011
At first glance it appears to be a casting choice with the potential to derail Johnny Depp's otherwise stellar movie career. Depp, known for his edgy roles and wacky on-screen personas, has been cast to play Tonto, the Native American sidekick to the Lone Ranger, in a forthcoming Hollywood version of the 1950s TV show.
Depp's Tonto, however, will be rather different from the original ally who stuck by his cowboy friend through thick and thin. Instead, his character looks set to be at the heart of the film and have the dominant role in its narrative.
Director Gore Verbinski is taking inspiration for the central relationship not from the dusty reels of the TV show, but from literary classic Don Quixote. In the new version, the Lone Ranger turns out to be a misguided fool and Tonto the voice of sanity, akin to Quixote's companion, Sancho Panza.
"The only version of The Lone Ranger I'm interested in doing is Don Quixote told from Sancho Panza's point of view," Verbinski told the Los Angeles Times's "Hero Complex" film blog last week. Suddenly it becomes a lot easier to see why Depp would take the role. "I was honest early on with Johnny that Tonto is the part. We're not going to do it [straight]; everyone knows that story. I don't want to tell that story," the director said.