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'The Lone Ranger': Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski discuss production woes

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Peter Mountain/Disney/Bruckheimer Films/AP

(Read caption) 'The Lone Ranger' stars Johnny Depp (l.) and Armie Hammer (r.).

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Can director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer make a “Lone Ranger” film appeal to a generation of young adults who have never heard of Tonto or Silver the horse?

We'll soon find out as audiences take in “The Lone Ranger,” the big-screen adaptation of the 1949 TV series which debuted July 3 and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer of “The Social Network.” The characters in the TV series originally appeared on a radio show, circa 1933, and also appeared in a series of films later in the 1930s. Even later films with the characters included 1956’s “The Lone Ranger” and 1958’s “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold,” both of which starred the lead actors from the TV series, Clayton Moore (who portrayed the titular Lone Ranger) and Jay Silverheels (who took on the role of Tonto). A 1981 film titled “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” had different actors portray the characters.

But even Verbinski says that pop culture had moved on past the Lone Ranger when he was growing up.

“I grew up in the '70s, so it was Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah and not so much the Lone Ranger,” Verbinski said during a recent panel discussion led by Yahoo moderator Ben Lyons. During the panel, Verbinski, Depp, Hammer, and Bruckheimer answered questions from Internet users.

And Verbinski says he wanted to put a twist on the story that some feel they know so well.

“We're telling it from Tonto's perspective,” the director said of his film. “He's our way into this story. You've all heard this story, but you've never heard it from the guy who was there.”

Depp said he found Tonto fascinating when he was younger and a fan of the TV series.

“When I watched the show, I just didn't understand why Tonto was the sidekick,” he said.

The actor said he was also sensitive to the troubled history of Native Americans when he took on the role of the Lone Ranger’s friend.

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“The goal was to, in my own small way, right the many wrongs that have been done to those people,” Depp said.

The film has already attracted attention for its large budget and the many stunts Hammer and Depp perform in the trailers. Hammer said he knew how to ride a horse before the film, but he encountered some new challenges during “Ranger.”

“I've never ridden a moving horse on top of a train or through a bank before, so that was new,” the actor said.

Depp also cited riding a horse when asked what his biggest challenge on the film was.

“The most difficult thing was staying alive when you're on a horse that's moving at high speeds,” he said. The actor called “Ranger” the most dangerous movie he’d ever worked on.

Verbinski said so many things went wrong during the film that watching the movie now is “a sense memory of pain.”

“It was the hardest film I've ever been on,” he said. “It was absolutely nuts. The train never worked.”


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