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The Lone Ranger - Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer interview

The Lone Ranger

Interview by Rob Carnevale

GORE Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer talk about bringing The Lone Ranger to the big screen and what Westerns inspired them as well as the US reaction to the film.

Gore also talks about working with a big English cast and how he went about making the central character relevant to modern audiences, while Jerry talks about working with Hans Zimmer and why he felt Johnny Depp deserved a producer’s credit. They were speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. Gore, you have a funny script and a great a cast and a real tip of the hat to those incredible landscapes of the old John Ford westerns – is that fair?
Gore Verbinski: Well yeah, I think it’s a language, the western, and a lot of those places haven’t been photographed in so many years it was just nice to run right at it and to go there. The people in Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly and these places were really nice. In Monument Valley you get a blessing from the Navajo Chief, when you ask permission to photograph in this landscape. Once you set up your camera you’re there, it’s impossible not to celebrate John Ford and all the iconography.

Q. Jerry, as one of the biggest producers in the world how do you feel about the fact that, while audiences in the States have loved the film, the box office figures aren’t quite what was expected?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I think the results are never what we want, we always want more, that’s just the way it is no matter how big or small it is. It’s a worldwide market, so one country doesn’t dictate the outcome of the movie, it’s just a small portion of it.

Q. So you’re looking forward to seeing what the worldwide audience makes of it?
Jerry Bruckheimer: Absolutely, that’s why we’re here. We’re very excited about being in Europe, we just got in from Berlin and Tokyo, and are thrilled to be in London again. We love it here.

Q. Gore, who were your idols growing up?
Gore Verbinksi: It’s very hard to say one name. Being here in London I would say Joseph Losey, just for what he did with Pinter, extraordinary in terms of the spaces between the words. Every day it would be a different answer.

Q. Gore, very few members of the potential audience will ever have heard of Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels or the unlamented Klinton Spilsbury. So, since these actors are at best a very distant memory in cinematic and television sense, why is it then that the Lone Ranger and Tonto remain such iconic images for us?
Gore Verbinski: There are so many icons…. you can’t think of the William Tell Overture without thinking of The Lone Ranger. The mask, silver bullets, the white horse – the iconography is just in our culture. Even if you’ve never watched The Lone Ranger, you’re going to pick up a packet of doughnuts and he’s going to be on the label or something. So, you [might] know The Lone Ranger but not be exactly sure what that is. It was a great opportunity for us to… I think there was something about the original TV series that was – for me – a bit two dimensional in that way. I remembered it, he lived by his code, he never deviated from that. And I think the opportunity to come at this from Tonto’s perspective, and to take the apprentice-master relationship and tell an origin story where the apprentice created the master. Once you start doing that everything else turns upside down.

And creating a Lone Ranger that has to deal with this, his code because of his noble ideas of justice and good and evil, right and wrong, he comes into a version of the West. It’s very much like taking Jimmy Stewart and throwing him into a Sam Peckinpah movie. He’s going to have to reconcile, in a time when justice can be purchased, how does that code stand up? It was important that he was also red blooded, that he might lash out. His brother’s death is very personal, it’s not just that he can take that and put it in a quadrant in his brain and continue to function. He questions that, and that sort of dimensionalises him in a way.

Q. What was it about the Brits in the cast that made you choose them for the film?
Gore Verbinski: We’ve got to get the Americans out of here.. and have an honest conversation. I just think it’s the theatre. The craft of acting is alive and well here, it’s just wonderful to come here. People come in and read for the part, a lot of times in Hollywood agents and whatnot, people don’t want to read: “I’m not reading, I’m not coming in to read.” If you come out to London and have a casting session people come in and read. It’s not embarrassing, it’s a way of making sure that not only is the director auditioning the actor but the actor is auditioning the actor. Harry and Ruth…. Tom’s a different story, we sent him the contract. I just think it’s great that you get the part because you come in and do the work.

Q. Should the film be a success do you have plans to expand on this and make some sequels?
Jerry Bruckheimer: That’s sort of up to the audience, you know, and up to Disney. About six months from now there’ll be a decision made one way or another. We’ll wait until they come to us. Hopefully, they will.

Q. Jerry, can you talk a little about giving Johnny Depp a producer credit on this one?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It wasn’t an honorary thing. He brings so much creativity to the process, and to have him in the script meetings early on, and the conceptualising his character and other characters, it helps us so much because he’s got such a wealth of creative knowledge that he puts on, layers on in the script and the story that it was a pleasure to bring him in really early creatively. It was fantastic for the movie.

Q. Jerry, you’ve got a long history of working with composer Hans Zimmer, can you describe your collaboration and the ideas you wanted to put across in the film?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I love very strong melodies, and strong themes and Hans comes from a European tradition of doing that. It’s in-bred in him. And the team around him is pretty much the same, so there’s a synchronicity that we have. We’ve worked together a long time, Gore’s the same way, he’s worked with him, and he always comes up with something from a different angle. It can be authentic to the piece, he does an enormous amount of research of the period, and it’s a creative choice. The way his mind works melodically is something that I like.

The Lone Ranger is released in UK cinemas on Friday, August 9, 2013