We chat with the star of THE LONE RANGER
There have been murmurs of a LONE RANGER movie for over 10 years and thanks to the persistence of Johnny Depp it’s finally arrived. THE LONE RANGER has been part of popular culture since 1933 when the first episode on the radio, this led to a TV series, a weekly cartoon, a film series and a spin off in 1936 THE GREEN HORNET.
Many names have been attached to play the famous masked man over the years, including George Clooney & Brad Pitt but upcoming actor Armie Hammer pinched the role. Armie’s rise to Hollywood leading man has been stealth and swift, a bit like the Lone Ranger himself.
His first big break was in 2009, appearing as the dashing Gabriel Edwards in girlie soap opera Gossip Girl (we don’t watch it, honest) but it was in David Fincher’s 2010 Facebook movie THE SOCIAL NETWORK where he first became a serious contender for Hollywood superstar. Hammer took on the role of both Winklevoss twins, the infamous brothers who may or may not have co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg. Playing twins won him multiple best actor nominations from critics & festivals around the world and put him on the wish-list of many casting agents. His next role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in 2010’s J. EDGAR also resulted in a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award.
In THE LONE RANGER, he shares equal billing with Johnny Depp, who plays sidekick Tonto. Advance word from early screenings in the states has been mixed, with impatient critics saying its too long but Irish audiences at early screenings have been giving the film two thumbs up, showing we’re a much more sophisticated bunch than film goers over the pond.
In our interview, Armie Hammer talks about his epic adventure of becoming the masked man, while getting his hands dirty doing the majority of his own stunts for real. **Swoon**
What attracted you to THE LONE RANGER?
AH: There are not really many things that you can’t love. There’s the fact that we traveled all over the American Southwest. We spent three months on the road in a different city almost every week. I got to work with Gore Verbinski. I got to work with Johnny [Depp] and Jerry Bruckheimer. The list of things that I actually love is too long. It’s amazing. It’s been a great project.
There’s over eighty years of source material, did you go back to the original episodes?
AH: After reading the script, I went back and did my due diligence but before that, my only experience with Lone Ranger consisted of watching TV with my dad and all of a sudden he’d be like, “Hi-Yo, Silver!” I do a lot of research before I start any project. I listened to some old radio serials and watched portions of the Clayton Moore THE LONE RANGER TV show.
What were your first meetings with director Gore Verbinski like?
AH: At first it was just an audition; I went in and I read. And then, I got invited to come into Gore’s office and we just sat outside on his balcony, smoked a couple of cigars, and talked about the script. That was it and after that I really didn’t hear anything for some time. Then I got a call from Gore, and he was like, “You’re my dude. Let’s do this.” I was like, “Great. Come on. Let’s go.”
To prepare to be The Lone Ranger you had to be convincing, that involved attending a Cowboy Boot Camp, what was that like?
AH: Cowboy Boot Camp was something we did in the beginning of the movie where they basically just sequestered all the actors with a bunch of cowboys for three weeks. We rode horses all day, practiced putting on a saddle, taking it off, working with lassos, learning different ways to throw the rope. They were really trying to teach us to be cowboys. 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.
You’ve done a ton of your own stunts on this movie. Talk a little bit about that.
AH: There was a scene where I ran out of Red’s, and I’m being chased by a mob. I whistle and Silver is supposed to come running up. I run and jump and I land on this banister, slide down the banister, and when I get to the bottom, I hit this piece of wood that kind of pole-vaults me into the air and I land on Silver. I think we did it over 20 times before I was able to land on the horse because the horse would move off spot. The mail chain hook was another rough one. That’s where we were chained and they swing us around in circle on a mail hook and then put us back. That was awful. It looked like a carnival ride and, in a way, it could have been fun like a carnival ride, but you have these metal shackles on your wrist that by the time they really start swinging that thing, it sucked you to the outside of it, like a centrifuge, so that chain just starts binding on your wrist.
How did you like working on top of the trains?
AH: I think I’m the only actor who really liked being on top of the trains. If you’re doing a scene and you’re the guy facing backwards, you can’t see the turns coming, and that’s the worse. If you’re facing forwards, it’s fun being on the train. But backwards, it’s hard to keep your composure and stay in character when you’re thinking, “I’m going to fall off this thing.” But it was good fun on the train.
The relationship between The Lone Ranger and Tonto is very iconic, how does it develop in the movie?
AH: 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. 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 kind of stuck with each other. They’re kind of all they have. 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.
Finally, What was it like the very first time you put on the Lone Ranger mask?
AH: 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, of course, they brought in the proper mask. The real one just fit so perfectly. It’s like vacuum-pressed to fit my face. I remember putting it on and thinking, “Damn, this is badass. This is actually going to be cool.”
THE LONE RANGER is at Irish cinemas from August 9th