Haaji Johnny?

Depp sightings abound, but when it comes to proof, he's up there with Bigfoot

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, Jan. 10, 2012

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Johnny Depp reportedly will play the role of Tonto in Disney's remake of The Lone Ranger. Tonto is the Ranger's ever-present sidekick.

I leave town for one weekend and of course that's the weekend Johnny Depp comes to Chinle. Or so they say.

Last weekend, the popular actor slated to play Tonto in the upcoming remake of "The Lone Ranger" was also spotted in Shiprock, Gallup, Monument Valley and Tuba City, according to Facebook postings and phone calls to the Navajo Times. The guy gets around!

The problem is, when I tracked down all the rumors, I couldn't find a single person who had actually seen Mr. Depp. It was all, "My cousin told me ..." or "I heard from a co-worker ..."

Tom Clark, superintendent at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, was as excited as anyone when he heard from several people that Johnny Depp was in town Saturday, assuming he would visit Canyon de Chelly. There was even a rumor he was looking for a guide into the canyon.

However, the day passed with no sign of Depp.

"If he was here," Clark said, "he didn't stop in the visitor center."

Canyon guide Adam Teller, hearing the rumor, raced to the Best Western Motel, where Depp was allegedly staying, hoping to be the first to offer his services. He turned around when he didn't see any vehicles that remotely looked Hollywood-ish.

Best Western Manager Julia Etsitty confirmed that Depp wasn't there.

However, she said, his director was snooping about, lining up rooms for May, when filming for "The Lone Ranger" will start.

And that will be the time we may get a glimpse of the elusive actor, or at least his entourage. In fact, unlike the Lone Ranger ("Who was that masked man?"), the film crew will be hard to avoid.

According to Etsitty, the Lone Ranger crew has reserved 200 rooms, spread across Chinle's three motels. There will be major filming in Canyon de Chelly and elsewhere on the rez, she reported.

In Monument Valley, a View Motel employee who identified herself only as Mona said a scouting party was hovering around Monument Valley Tribal Park over the weekend as well - sans the man who would be Tonto.

So if you live in the Kayenta area, expect some Hollywood types invading your space this spring, searching in vain for a soy latte. One would think they would be relatively easy to distinguish from the locals or your average pasty tourists looking for a deal on turquoise. But maybe not.

There's probably a reason they put the majority of people who work on a movie behind the scenes.

But hey, if you say you've seen Johnny Depp, or Bigfoot, or even the guy who is going to play the Lone Ranger (who is that masked man, anyway?), then who am I to judge?

I have to stick to the facts as a newspaper reporter, but I like a good rumor as much as the next person. I think my favorite was posted on Facebook by Calvin Johnson, a member of the school board at Tolani Lake.

"Johnny Depp was at Tolani Lake Chapter meeting this evening, endorsing me for another four years on the board," Johnson wrote. "Thanks Mr. Depp for your support."

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