The film – which comes out in cinemas on August 9 – revisits the notorious tale of The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer), who alongside his sidekick Tonto (Depp) embark on an adventure across the desert. Not only did we have the two lead stars in attendance, but director Gore Verbinski was also there, with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Meanwhile the British collective of the cast were out in their numbers, with Ruth Wilson, Tom Wilkinson and Harry Treadaway making up the star studded panel – moderated by our friend Edith Bowman.
Although having come under scrutiny for the portrayal of Native Americans, Depp was adamant it was a subject broached delicately and respectfully. “We all agreed first and foremost that Native Americans must be represented with the dignity and integrity that we know them to have,” he said. “I wanted to slay the dragon of the cliché of the native american, first of all as a savage, and being lesser than the white man… To portray what they called themselves, what they were called before Columbus’ faulty remark when he thought he’d landed in India and called them Indians. They were called human beings and thats how they should be represented, as a great culture and great people with unbelievable humour. If you think Tonto is eccentric, spend some time with them, they’re funny people man.”
Depp – who claims to have Native America blood in his genes, tells us what a delight it was for him to portray such a character on the big screen for the first time. “There may be something in the fact when I was little kid I was told growing up that we had some Native American blood in us, and I always found that to be a point of pride, so when it came to cowboys and Indians I didn’t want to be John Wayne.”
Such a sentiment was enhanced by Hammer, who also chose the side of the underdog when play acting as a child. “When I grew up I did a programme called Indian guides, and it’s almost like boy scouts but from a Native American aspect, learning skills they would have needed to survive,” he said. “I had a really cool pair of moccasins that when I put on I thought gave me super powers – I was always the Indian too.”
Hammer – who shares a strong chemistry with Depp on screen – also had plenty to say of their own working relationship, as a set that sounds like one that was incredibly special to have been a part of. “Off the bat there was a kind of, ‘I like you’, ‘I like you too. It then got more and more fun until Gore just had to tell us to shut up and say the lines before the sun went behind the mountain.
“We just had a great time on set, each and every one of us had some of the most fun experiences of our lifetime and that is really picked up and why the film is so fun.”
The most notable character has to be that of Tonto, however, and Depp explained to us how he approaches each role – and the luck of the draw in what makes a character successful, something he dramatically experienced with Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – despite the fact it almost got the talented actor fired.
“When we did Pirates of the Caribbean one, they really wanted me fired so bad they could taste it,” he continued. “When I spoke to one of the executives at the time I said, you’re right, you should fire me, but you’ll have to pay me for my time. Um, it was something that they couldn’t quite figure out, how to market that character, wanting to put subtitles and all that stuff – but it was nothing new to me, I always approach the characters the same way, he just happened to get more attention.”
Wilson, who plays the feisty character of Rebecca Reid – also approached her role in a specific way, though admitting that she had to request for more action herself. “I was insistent with Gore that I would be a bit tougher, and scratch back and spit back, so I did.”
The Lone Ranger is an enjoyable – if flawed – piece of cinema, and with immense action spectacles and set pieces, not to mention its good humoured sense of adventure, there really is only one way to sum up this entire experience, as Depp astutely points out; “This is a strange job for a grown man.”