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'Lone Ranger' aims to take Tonto beyond sidekick

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm •  Published: April 17, 2013

LAS VEGAS (AP) — To watch a snippet of "The Lone Ranger" is to empathize with the stoic looks of concern its star, Johnny Depp, deadpans throughout the action film.

A white man playing Tonto, one of the most famous American Indian stereotypes of all time, might work. Then again, trouble might be coming.

In director Gore Verbinski's remake of the popular 1950s Western television series, Depp speaks in broken English, chants prayers, and wears feathers, face paint and — for some reason — a stuffed crow headdress.

But he also loses the subservience that helped make the original Tonto, played by a Canadian Mohawk, such a problematic sidekick to the masked hero.

The Disney remake has Tonto in the role of coach to John Reid, the idealistic law school graduate who finds himself out of his depth when he returns to his hometown and eventually becomes the Lone Ranger.

Verbinski framed the film as a buddy picture with a zany Western edge Wednesday during a teaser screening at the movie theater convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

"The movie is an origin story," he said before showing about 20 minutes of material. "You'll get a sense about the delicate partnership that's arranged between these two guys, and their wildly diverse sense of justice."

Armie Hammer, who plays the square-jawed ranger, made a brief appearance with Depp, who was in full movie-star mode, sporting a cowboy hat, four gold necklaces, expensively ripped jeans and a bandanna hanging to his knees.

"Armie is very tall. Which means that we're not short," Depp told the industry crowd.

"Anything to add to that?" Verbinski asked.

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