Don't break the law, moviegoers — Disney has a new sheriff in town, and he's coming soon to a theater near you.
Armie Hammer stars in director Gore Verbinski's upcoming action-adventure "The Lone Ranger," based on the iconic Western hero of the same name. He's joined in the film by Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean" co-conspirator Johnny Depp, in a performance that Hammer can only describe as "f---ing beautiful," if you'll pardon his French.
Read on for more of MTV News' "Lone Ranger" preview, courtesy of Mr. Hammer.
A New Ranger
Though Hammer grew up with knowledge of "The Lone Ranger" — "I was aware of it, because it's an item in our pop-culture lexicon," he tells MTV — he never considered himself a devoted fan of the original television show and radio serial. You don't have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate the movie, either, as Hammer explains that this is very much a new Ranger.
"The original character of the Lone Ranger, I wouldn't say he was one-dimensional, but he's very set in his ways. 'We won't hurt anybody, we won't do this, this is the code of the West, this is how you be a man.' It was an inspiration, someone who kids could look up to and say, 'I want to be like him!' That's great, and it serves a purpose," says Hammer. "But our movie, our plot, is the genesis of the Ranger character; so it shows him rolling into town thinking, 'This is the way of the world, and I know it. This is how I'm going to be, and this is how that's going to be' — until he gets shot at for the first time and realizes that this is very different from law school. You see a big transformation in this character."
Rolling in the Depp
Hammer plays the titular hero, but he's not shouldering the movie alone. The Lone Ranger travels with his trusty companion Tonto, a Native American scout played by Depp. Like the Ranger himself, Tonto gets a major overhaul in the upcoming movie.
"It's a lot more balanced than the original show, where the Ranger would tell Tonto what to do, and he would say, 'Me do,' and run away. Nobody was thrilled with that, and Johnny especially wasn't thrilled with that," the actor says. "This is more like a buddy comedy; there's give and take, and push and pull, between these two guys. They're a team, so when it comes down to it, they're willing to do what it takes to get the job done. It's a great relationship between the two of them. It's very fun, almost a 'Midnight Run' vibe, where you have two guys with one goal but very different ways of going about it.
(Not So) Very Superstitious
Early rumors pegged "The Lone Ranger" as a supernatural thriller involving werewolves — but Hammer says that's very much not happening. "There is no overt supernatural element to the movie. It's a story about a cowboy and a scout in the old days trying to find justice. That's 100% what this movie is about," he declares. But that doesn't mean there aren't supernatural themes in play.
"Tonto is a very superstitious person who believes that there are constantly signs that mean this and that," Hammer explains. "Does the sign mean this and that, or is it just a scorpion wandering around the desert? So there are questions that leave the possibility open to there being a supernatural element — but it's not a supernaturally-driven movie at all."
Even if there isn't a werewolf in sight, "Lone Ranger" won't skimp on the action. The train sequence at the heart of the first "Lone Ranger" trailer makes it plainly clear that the film will go heavy on the action — and Hammer says we haven't even seen the half of it.
"When I signed onto the movie, I looked at the budget: '$250 million? Where's all of that going to?' And then I showed up on set and saw the scale of what they'd done, and it made total sense," he says. "They made a whole town and blew it up. They flipped trains. They blew up trains. They threw trains off of bridges, realistically and practically. There are huge action sequences in this that cost a lot of money, but at the same time, it's so worth it."
Recapturing The Sparrow
"Lone Ranger" comes from the director and star of the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Given that level of success, anticipation is high for Disney's Western. Can it recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle feeling of those first "Pirates" tales? Hammer says it's too early to predict — but he promises that fans are in for a hell of a ride with Depp's turn as Tonto, at the very least.
"Pardon my French, but it is f---ing beautiful," he says of Depp's performance. "It's so much fun watching Johnny do what he's so good at: larger than life characters who feel so real. There will be lines in the script, and then Johnny says, 'Wouldn't it be funnier if I just do this with a look?' Everybody goes, 'Well, I don't know if that's possible; the audience needs to understand this.' And he'll go, 'No, no, like this.' And he'll do the look, and everyone will say, 'That's perfect!' He knows what he does well, and he does it well for sure."
Check out everything we've got on "The Lone Ranger."