When the first image from Gore Verbinski’s upcoming The Lone Ranger came online earlier this year, there was much discussion about Johnny Depp’s unique visual approach to the character of Tonto. EW caught up with Depp and learned that the bird-on-head design was inspired by “I Am Crow”, a painting by artist Kirby Sattler.

“[I] looked at the face of this warrior and thought: Thats it,” Depp told the outlet. “The stripes down the face and across the eyes Theres this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side. I saw these parts, almost like dissecting a brain, these slivers of the individual.”

Although the original piece of art (which you can check out by clicking here) had the bird merely flying behind the subject’s head, Depp appreciated the look and made some alterations.

I thought: Tontos got a bird on his head,” the actor continued. “Its his spirit guide in a way. Its dead to others, but its not dead to him. Its very much alive.

According to Depp, his interpretation of Tonto will go even further against the grain of what fans of the character might expect.

The whole reason I wanted to play Tonto is to try to [mess] around with the stereotype of the American Indian that has been laid out through history,” he said. “…especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Rangers assistant. As youll see, its most definitely not that.

Also starring Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter, the big screen adaptation will be released by Walt Disney Pictures on May 31, 2013.

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