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Jerry Bruckheimer: Reinventing the Western

By Zaki JufriMovies - 01 July 2013 6:10 PM | Updated 03 July 2013

Jerry Bruckheimer: Reinventing the Western

When it comes to making movies, Jerry Bruckheimer likes to surround himself with Hollywood’s best and brightest – Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Kingsley (‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’), Michael Bay and Ben Affleck (‘Pearl Harbor’), John Malkovich and John Cusack (‘Con Air’)… you get the gist.

And in his latest blockbuster ‘The Lone Ranger’, the Hollywood hotshot producer turned to longtime collaborators Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp. The movie will open at Singapore screens on 4 July.

Bruckheimer quipped: “One of my attributes is surrounding myself with a lot of very talented people. They always make me look good.”

The producer also recently got his star on Hollywood’s Walk to Fame on 24 June this year.

Jerry Bruckheimer
Jerry Bruckheimer

Director Verbinski (’Rango’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End’), Depp and Bruckheimer hit the bull’s eye several times with the ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ series of films which began in 2003. Verbinski directed three of the movies in the franchise, while Depp acted in all four.

The four 'Pirates' films have earned some US$3.7 billion in total at the global box office, according to Boxofficemojo.com.

This summer, the trio is set to take moviegoers on a magical ride again with the adaptation of the popular ‘The Lone Ranger’.

It is a modern remake of the classic adventure series of the same name, which aired on radio for 21 years from 1933, and on television for 10 years from 1949. All were based on scripts created by Fran Striker, who also created ‘The Green Hornet’.

NEW-LOOK WESTERN

Bruckheimer said: “We’re starting all over again. We’re starting with a new yarn, new characters, but the same actor and the same director, and some of the same writers. So, we’re going to take you on another wild ride.”

“Gore’s a masterful director,” Bruckheimer gushed about the director. “He’s one of the few directors who can give you an enormous visual style, real beauty on screen. He shoots fantastic action, and understands drama, and he’s a good storyteller. And he gets comedy, too.”

Armie Hammer (‘Mirror Mirror’) plays the Lone Ranger, played by Clayton Moore on most of the television episodes, and Depp is Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels throughout the televised series.

The movie also stars Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter.

For his version, Bruckheimer promises a Hollywood “Western” like no one has seen before.

“This is a whole new approach to a western, just as Gore Verbinski created ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and made a different kind of pirate movie. So you can’t compare our Western to anything that’s been done in the past, just like you can’t compare ‘Pirates’ to any pirate movies you’ve seen before. This is a unique interpretation of the West. So, if you want to see something that’s as entertaining and as fun as ‘Pirates’, you now have ‘The Lone Ranger’,” he explained.

COMIC PAIRING

Following in the footsteps of the classic Westerns, the movie takes audiences on an adventure where one law-abiding character strongly believes in justice, and the other character merely wants vengeance.

“The Lone Ranger is a character who’s been to law school and he follows the letter of the law… but when he comes to the West where there’s a lot of lawlessness, it doesn’t work.

“And Tonto teaches him the ways of the West, and how you have to take the law into your own hands at certain times. There’s butting of heads between these characters. One believes in righteousness and the other just wants a means to an end,” Bruckheimer said.

Yet though the movie is about reinventing the Western, it is a buddy movie at its core, with its own blend of drama and comedy. Bruckheimer described the movie as a cross between 1969 epic Western ‘The Wild Bunch’ and the 1968 comedy ‘The Odd Couple’. 

“We have the relationship between the two men, which is comedic at times, and then you have villains who would cut your heart out,” he said.

Although the movie is called ‘The Lone Ranger’, the character that audiences are most likely to watch for is his partner-in-crime, Tonto.

DEPP’S CREATIVE INPUT

When Bruckheimer bought the rights to adapt the popular series into a feature film in 2007, he asked longtime collaborator Depp about portraying the iconic Native American.

“Johnny creates amazing characters, no matter what movie he’s in. Captain Jack Sparrow is a good example. We’ve made four movies in the ‘Pirates’ franchise and we’re hoping to make another one, so it’s really based on his creativity for creating characters.

“His Tonto is different than any Tonto you’ve ever seen before… We didn’t even know until the cameras roll what he’s going to do, but we knew it’s going to be entertaining and very interesting,” Bruckheimer enthused.

Even Tonto's peculiar, roadkill-bird-on-head look was all a creation by Depp (who is part Native American, by the way). He was inspired by a painting by American artist Kirby Sattler, called ‘I Am Crow’.

Playing the role of the titular masked cowboy avenger is the fresh-faced Armie Hammer. The 26-year-old first caught the producer’s eye when he saw ‘The Social Network’. He thought Hammer, who portrayed the Winklevoss twins in the 2010 movie, was perfect for ‘The Lone Ranger’.

“He’s tall, he’s handsome, there’s a kind of a twinkle in his eye, and I thought he’d be the most interesting casting that we could do for this part. But he’s a wonderful actor, that’s where you have to start,” Bruckheimer recalled.

‘The Lone Ranger’ opens in cinemas 4 July