Behind the Ink: Johnny Depp’s Crow Tattoo (and Other Body Art) Explained
Tattoo besties: Freed prisoner Damien Echols, left, and Johnny Depp (George Pimentel/WireImage)
Johnny Depp, star of this week's "The Lone Ranger," and Damien Echols, one-third of the original West Memphis Three, have shared some time together on the red carpet over the past year to promote "West of Memphis." (The highly acclaimed documentary is about three men, including Echols, who just last August were released from prison after being wrongfully incarcerated for 18 years.)
It turns out the actor and the former inmate have also shared time in a few tattoo parlors.
Johnny Depp's new crow tattoo was visible during a recent appearance on David Letterman (Photo by Ray Tamarra/FilmMagic)
Although he's not officially involved with the documentary, Depp has been a fierce supporter of "West of Memphis" and the legal crusade that finally made free men out of Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin, who were accused of the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys found next to a creek in the Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas. Depp and Echols have become close friends and have sealed their bond with a few permanent marks.
The most striking tattoo shared by the two is an image of a crow, found on the back of their respective right hands. The artwork is a nod to the "The Crow" (released in 1994, the same year the Three were convicted), the fantasy action film about Eric Draven (the late, great Brandon Lee), a rock musician whose brutal murder is avenged when he rises from the grave a year after his death, guided by a mystical crow. It's a theme Echols says he explores in his autobiography, "Life After Death."
"[In the movie], they talk about the mythology of how [the crow] is considered to be something that transports souls from the realm of the dead to the realm of the living," Echols said in an interview with People Magazine last fall. "When somebody comes back to life, it's the crow that brings them back to the living."
[Related: The Secret History of the Lone Ranger]
The image and theme of the crow also fits into the bird imagery of the headdress that Depp wears as Tonto in "The Lone Ranger." This costume flourish came from Depp himself, who was inspired by Kirby Sattler's striking painting, "I Am Crow."