Johnny Depp as Tonto. Even leaving off the dead bird on his head, I could never buy Depp as a Native American. I have not seen the movie and will only watch it if it’s free and nothing better is on – say “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” I make these comments having only seen the trailer, which was just . . . too over the top.
My main complaint is that Disney could not find a Native American/Native Canadian actor to play Tonto, the Ranger’s companion. In all previous live-action movie and live-action television versions of The Lone Ranger, Tonto has always been played by a Native American/Native Canadian. In the two Republic serials, rescued from being lost (and subsequently restored) by Serial Squadron, Tonto was played by Victor Daniels, a member of the Comanche, who went by the Hollywood “name” of Chief Thundercloud. In the 1949-1957 TV series with Clayton Moore and John Hart as the Ranger, Tonto was played by Harold J Smith, aka Jay Silverheels, a member of the Mohawk nation in Canada. “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” had Michael Heinrich, born on a Yaqui reservation and with additional blood of Mescalero Apache, Zuni and Latino, known professionally as Michael Horse. Even the bad TV movie pilot from 2003 had Nathaniel Arcand, a Plains Cree from Canada.
Now I do understand that Disney wanted Star Power for its version. But surely Depp would have been better cast as the Ranger or as Butch Cavendish. Are there truly no Native American or Native Canadian actors who could have played the role of Tonto?