Exclusive Interview: Armie Hammer on The Lone Ranger
You're going to be hearing an awful lot about The Lone Ranger in the coming days, but what you should be hearing – whether folks love the movie or not – is that Armie Hammer brings his "A" game. The breakout star of The Social Network gets his first big blockbuster as the title character in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, acting opposite Johnny Depp's Tonto and trying to do the honorable thing even though it's very hard, and physically very painful. And he does it with humor and a dapper smile.
That smile was in full effect as I entered the room to interview Armie Hammer in Santa Fe, NM. He insisted that I drink some water to help with my altitude sickness, clasped my hand firmly, and set about his task of taking you behind the scenes of the most expensive western you will probably ever see.
CraveOnline: What were some of the processes involved in developing the new costume? Were there other versions of the mask that you worked with?
Armie Hammer: The clothes were always going to be functional. It was never going to be anything aesthetic.
You had to do way too much in that costume.
Totally! Totally, and there were too many sticklers for historical details. Penny, our costume director was like, "No. These are the kind of buttons you would've had access to. You don't get to use this. You don't get to use that. There will be no zippers on anything. The corset will be…" You know, she was very specific with it, which was great. So, the suit that the Lone Ranger is now wearing is along the lines of something people would have actually worn in those days. It would have been like, "Oh, this is a nice suit to have," as opposed to that other blue thing with the big neckerchief.
Was Johnny suffering in that makeup, in the heat?
If he did, he did not let on for a second.
It looks uncomfortable…. Flaky.
That dude is the coolest customer in the world. You look at him, and it makes you want to break out in itchin' hives and he's just like, sitting there, chillin'. It seems like it doesn't even bother him. I mean, I'm sure it's not the most extreme thing he's ever had to do for a movie.
I imagine not. Did you audition for this, or was it, "You're Armie Hammer, you get to do it?"
No, no, no.
What was your audition like? What kind of sides did they give you? Did they ask you to do some sort of physical stuff?
No, it was the jailhouse scene. Rebecca and John Reid you know, "Dan? Uh-oh. Someone fell off the train." "Yeah, I fell off the train." That one. Then it was the dead-horse-in-the-middle-of-the-desert-scene. And then it was…. Ah, the one with Latham Cole, where it's like, "You can stop the invasion. Butch Cavendish's just one doing it for the silver," where we pull the pistols on each other. It was those three scenes from the movie.
What was your first thought on how to play the Lone Ranger? Did you have a take on him, or was he more of just like, a "Hero?"What was your thought process?
Yeah, you know what? They wouldn't give us a script, so I didn't have too much to base it off of. You know, I didn't have too much information or too many clues to go off of, so I was just like, "How can I make this sound the most natural as possible, and not make it sound like I'm doing a weird, goofy thing?"
"Ha-HA!" [Heroic noise]
Yeah, yeah, so it was just about I guess being natural in the beginning.
Were you a fan of Westerns in particular, before this?
What are some of your favorite Westerns?
Unforgiven, probably in my opinion one of the best. Magnificent Seven, great remake of Seven Samurai…. Hud.
Huh! People don't usually say Hud.
Yeah. I'm a big Paul Newman fan.
Now, Gore went to film school at UCLA, and I think you went to UCLA for a while, didn't you? You took some classes?
I took a class there.
You took "a" class. What did you take at UCLA?
It was an International Business Management class.
Does that really help, considering the amount of money you're making?
Not at all.
Not at all? Completely useless?
Considering I couldn't have given a damn the entire time I was in class, anyway. Didn't help me in the least.
Why did you take it?
It got my parents off my back.
Oh, there you go! That is the reason.
"I am in College!"