Hi-ho Silver! The Lone Ranger is here
Playing an American hero alongside Johnny Depp was second nature to Armie Hammer
WHEN producer Jerry Bruckheimer set out to cast the part of John Reid in the Western adventure The Lone Ranger, out now in South Africa, he knew that he would recognise the perfect actor to play the part the moment he saw him.
“I saw Armie Hammer in The Social Network and I said, ‘He’s just perfect for the Lone Ranger’,” he says. “He’s tall, he’s handsome, and there’s a kind of twinkle in his eye. I thought he’d be the most interesting casting that we could do for this part, and he’s a wonderful actor.”
Director Gore Verbinski agreed, and Hammer signed on to play the legendary masked lawman alongside Johnny Depp as his dark-humoured sidekick Tonto.
Hammer says playing the Lone Ranger alongside Depp turned out to be fun: “Everybody involved is at the top of their game, and it’s fantastic to be a part of something like that.”
Explaining the relationship between his character and Tonto, Hammer says: “The relationship develops out of necessity, where you have the Lone Ranger who’s completely incapacitated and nursed back to health by Tonto. But then it’s like an odd couple team. It’s like they couldn’t be more polar opposites.
“Tonto is a loner. He’s got no village. He’s got no family. He’s a complete outcast. The Lone Ranger just lost his brother and doesn’t know who’s on his side or who’s against him – so it’s complicated.”
Developing that relationship on screen with Depp took some time, but became a lot of fun.
“Once we had a rhythm, we started to really have fun with these two characters,” says Hammer.
“We knew how to push each other’s buttons. It’s a good relationship.”
What did you think when you first read the script?
I thought, “Man, this is actually really funny. This is a really a good script.” After reading the script, I went back and did my due diligence but before that, my only experience with the Lone Ranger consisted of watching TV with my dad and all of a sudden he’d be like, “Hi-ho, Silver!” I do a lot of research before any project. I listened to some old radio serials and watched portions of the Clayton Moore The Lone Ranger TV show.
Talk a little bit about the Cowboy Boot Camp that you had to attend.
Cowboy Boot Camp was something we did in the beginning where they sequestered all the actors with a bunch of cowboys for three weeks. We rode horses all day, practised putting on a saddle, taking it off, working with lassos, learning different ways to throw the rope. It was an immersion project where we just went into it and just did it.
Basically it was all of the actors running around acting like six-year-old boys and having a great time.
Did you like westerns before this?
I did. I think that westerns are one of the pure examples of American storytelling. There are no westerns anywhere else but America. They are our own genre. How is The Lone Ranger unique? The scale of this is incredible. You’ve got the trans-continental railroad. You’ve got the concept of the Native Americans’ conflict with the government. You’ve got the Texas Rangers. It’s accurate historically but told in such a fun, fresh way.
Talk about the Lone Ranger and Tonto’s relationship and how it develops in this movie.
They couldn’t be more polar opposites. You have the Lone Ranger, who’s about justice and wants these guys brought to justice specifically in a court of law, and then you have Tonto, who is like: “We kill them.” They come from different pages but they’re on the same mission. So they’re stuck with each other. And they’re also all they have.
In the beginning of the movie, we shot
The Lone Ranger. all the Ranger stuff, so it wasn’t like Johnny and I were in every scene.
But then there were two or three weeks where we had a scene together every single day. And that’s where we started to really catch our stride.
Once we had a rhythm, we started to really have fun with these two characters and how they bounce off each other. I got to know the Tonto character better and I guess Johnny got to know the Lone Ranger character better, too, because we both knew how to push each other’s buttons. It’s a good relationship.
What did you think the first time you put on the mask?
The first time I put on the mask was in a tailor’s back office in Burbank. It was just for a fitting, so it didn’t feel right.
Later on, they brought in the proper mask. The real one just fit so perfectly. I remember putting it on and thinking, “Damn, this is badass. This is actually going to be cool.” – Supplied
HEROES: Johnny Depp plays Tonto while Armie Hammer dons the mask in