Why is there a dead bird on Tonto's head? Johnny Depp explains

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Dec 17, 2012, 3:16 PM EST

Johnny Depp has a definite penchant for the weird and for pasty-white looks. Just look at most of his films and you'll see that the guy's rarely sporting a tan. But ever since Jerry Bruckheimer released the first still from that upcoming The Lone Ranger film, the Internet's been abuzz (mostly negatively) about Depp's look as Tonto.

And then there's also the case of that dead bird on his head.

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, the actor opened up about the controversial look he sports in the upcoming film, how he developed it, and what actually inspired him to go all "Look-I-got-a-dead-bird-on-my-head."

"I'd actually seen a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, and looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That's it. The stripes down the face and across the eyes ... it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean."

Depp further explained what the lines of paint on the Native American's face meant:

"There's 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. That makeup inspired me."

But—and everyone wants to know here—what about that dead bird? Here's Johnny Depp's explanation for it:

"It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior's head. It looked to me like it was sitting on top," Depp said, which led him to another eureka moment. "I thought: Tonto's got a bird on his head. It's his spirit guide in a way. It's dead to others, but it's not dead to him. It's very much alive."

And here's the Kirby Sattler painting that inspired Depp.

The actor also added:

"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, or the history of cinema at the very least—especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Ranger's assistant. As you'll see, it's most definitely not that."

So there you have it. What do you guys think about Johnny Depp's explanation for Tonto's look and that dead bird on his head?

Sadly, we'll all have to wait until May 31, 2013, to shout "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!" when The Lone Ranger is released in theaters. (Nah . . . we're saying it now: "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!")