Johnny Depp's Native American Heritage Informed His Tonto Role In The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp is part Native AmericanEarlier this week, Johnny Depp appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote The Lone Ranger, where he talked about his concerns over how Tonto was portrayed on The Lone Ranger TV series.

In an appearance on CBS Sunday Morning, Johnny Depp re-iterated those concerns. Johnny Depp said, “I was always very uncomfortable with the idea that Tonto was given sort of instructions and sent off. Go get me the paper, go get me a cup of tea, that kind of…The Lone Ranger’s a nice guy, but how come he’s treating the other guy like lesser.”

During his Late Show With David Letterman appearance, Johnny Depp also talked about his hope that his role as Tonto would serve as an inspiration for Native American kids. Johnny Depp said, “It was approached with only good intentions. And if there’s fifteen kids…twenty kids on a reservation somewhere who can watch this film and walk away feeling proud of their heritage, proud of their culture, and want to keep their language…their culture alive. If they get that, then I feel my job is done.”

Some of the most often feedback we heard after running a report on the Late Show interview was that it would have been more of an inspiration if an actual Native American were cast in the Tonto role. In his appearance on CBS Sunday Morning, Johnny Depp talked about his Native American heritage, which has been reported before but likely isn’t widely known among the general public.

When asked about his recent revelation that he might be part-Indian himself, Johnny Depp responded, “There’s either Cherokee or Chickasaw or Creek or something from that.” When asked if his Native American heritage informed the way he played the character, Johnny Depp answered, “Of course, but only…not like for me thinking as a Native American necessarily, but just thinking, approaching it with my respect and my want and hope to present them in a light that maybe hasn’t been presented before.”

Of course, a lot of people probably have a Native American link somewhere in their ancestry, so it likely won't appease those who wanted to see a full blooded Native American in the Tonto role. However, it's an interesting bit of information that Johnny Depp can at least claim some Native American heritage.