FIRST LOOK: See Johnny Depp as Tonto in 'The Lone Ranger'!

The Social Network's Armie Hammer plays the titular cowboy in this Disney update of the '50s TV series, due in theaters May 2013

Yes, that's Johnny Depp in his costume for The Lone Ranger -- and yes, that is a bird on his head! The 48-year-old three-time Oscar nominee is starring as Native American sidekick Tonto in the upcoming Disney film, with Armie Hammer, 25, playing the titular masked cowboy.

So why is an enormous star like Depp playing second fiddle to that guy from The Social Network? Actually, he's not. Depp intends for the film to tell Tonto's story, reinventing the one-dimensional sidekick of the '50s television series (played by Jay Silverheels).

"I remember watching it as a kid, with Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore, and going: ‘Why is the f***ing Lone Ranger telling Tonto what to do?" Depp told Entertainment Weekly in May 2011. "I liked Tonto, even at that tender age, and knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here. That’s stuck with me.

"And when the idea came up (for the movie)," he continued, "I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to... attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head."

The story is personal to Depp, since he is part Native American himself (although he doesn't know for sure where his ancestry comes from; he believes that his great-grandmother was either Cherokee or Creek Indian). So it's a pretty safe bet that his character, described by Disney as "a spirit warrior on a personal quest," won't be speaking in pidgin English or taking flak from any cowboys. Got that, kemosabe?

Directed by Pirates of the Carribbean's Gore Verbinski (who just won an Oscar for his animated collaboration with Depp, Rango) The Lone Ranger rides into theaters May 31, 2013.

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