Say, who is that masked Lone Ranger actor, anyway?
You might think you don’t know Armie Hammer, but the man who plays The Lone Ranger has already impressed in The Social Network and J Edgar
Armie Hammer turns heads in the Lone Ranger
Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar, with Leonardo di Caprio as J Edgar Hoover
Armie Hammer, left, and Max Minghella in Columbia Pictures’ “The Social Network,” starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake.
When you walk into a room to meet Armie Hammer and he leaps out of his chair to shake hands, the 26-year-old appears to get up. And up. And up. And up. Standing just a little shy of two metres, the actor has long become accustomed to strangers walking up in the street to state the bleeding obvious: “Gee, mister, you’re tall”.
He modestly attributes any number of “Armie Hammer – superhero” headlines to his impressive stature: he was cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne in George Mad Max Miller’s aborted 2007 film, Justice League: Mortal and is the current bookies’ favourite to take the same chiropteran role in Warner Bros’ incoming Superman vs Batman. He will – in fact – be Illya Kuryakin to Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The rumour mill has also decided that Hammer will be playing Ant-Man in Edgar Wright’s upcoming Marvel adventure.
Hammer laughs off the notion. “Most actors are tiny,” he shrugs. “So any time a tall actor comes along – like me or the Hemsworth brothers – everyone says ‘oh, they’re big, let’s put them in big movies’. At least there’s no danger of a Napoleon complex with us, I guess.”
To date – and against type – Armie Hammer’s career has been defined by respectable character acting; he won awards for his titular role as the evangelist Billy Graham in 2008’s Billy: The Early Years and has subsequently turned heads with show-stealing turns as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network and long-time Hoover companion Clyde Tolson in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar.
Finally, however, somebody – namely mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer – has put this big guy in a big movie. The Lone Ranger casts Johnny Depp as Tonto, an eye-rolling sidekick for Armie’s eponymous masked hero. This contemporary reworking of the old western serial is as a big as it gets: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Gore Verbinski is at the helm and the hefty production price tag stands at $215 million.
Not much pressure, then?
“I tried not to think about it,” he says. “Leading man and character actor? Those are a lot of branding terms. And they’re fine for studios and agents. But for me I was just making another movie. Okay, it’s a larger scale, but I’m with people who are competent with a larger scale. There are very few people who can make movies of the size that Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski can. I mean this is the dream team, right?”
Despite some barbed American notices (“But you cultured Europeans have better taste, right?” winks Hammer) you can actually see where Verbinski spent the money. The Lone Ranger reloaded is characterised by genuine antique trains and frontier landscape. It’s tactile where most summer blockbusters are pixel-heavy.
“Absolutely,” nods Hammer. “There were times you’d look around and you were riding through artefacts, actual thousand-year-old homes built into the side of rocks, and you’re tearing past on a white horse at full speed. As you say, it was a very tactile experience. We were there. We didn’t make this movie in a room with green paint everywhere. There was a concerted effort to make sure everything felt real and authentic.”