The Lone Ranger: Depp Signs On for New Movie — What Can We Expect?

Clayton Moore as The Lone RangerThere’s a new big screen adaptation of the popular Lone Ranger character in the works and an unusual casting choice has been announced.

The Lone Ranger is the 1930s creation of Fran Striker. The Ranger is a masked avenger from the old west who seeks to help those in need. He’s aided by his faithful white steed, Silver, and his American Indian friend, Tonto. The characters were first introduced to the public in a 1933 radio series that ran for more than 20 years. The Lone Ranger became such a hit that the characters were soon featured in movie serials, novels, comic strips, and comic books.

The character is likely best remembered for the half-hour Lone Ranger television series that began in 1949. Clayton Moore played the Ranger with Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Midway through the show’s run, Moore had a dispute with the show’s producers and he was replaced by actor John Hart for two years. Moore returned to the role for the series’ final three seasons, ending in 1957.

A big-screen movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, arrived in theaters in 1981 but it was an immediate flop. The film was severely flawed and the lead actor’s dialogue was overdubbed by another performer. The film received bad publicity before it even opened when film’s producers filed an injunction against Moore, preventing him from doing personal appearances as the character. They gave a film cameo to Hart, Moore’s TV replacement.

The Lone Ranger was later revived for Saturday morning cartoons with Zorro, another masked Western hero. In 2003, a live-action pilot for a WB series was created. The newest version’s story bore little resemblance to what had come before and it was not made into a series. Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill) played the Ranger with Nathaniel Arcand (Moose TV) as Tonto.

Sony had been developing a new big-screen movie five years ago and even hired Jonathan Mostow as the project’s director. Mostow has directed action films like Terminator 3 and also wrote and developed the Birds of Prey TV series. By Fall 2006, the movie had been postponed and Mostow moved on. In February 2007, Disney registered several Lone Ranger movie domains.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films indeed had plans for a Lone Ranger movie. Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, the screenwriters behind the Pirates of the Caribbean movie trilogy, were signed to write the script.

What type of movie should the new Lone Ranger be?

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Though a lead hasn’t been announced, Johnny Depp has just been signed to play Tonto. Depp’s grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee and he embraced his heritage in his self-directed 1997 movie The Brave. At a Disney event at the Kodak Theater yesterday, Depp walked on stage to the tune of “The William Tell Overture,” dressed as Jack Sparrow and wearing a Lone Ranger mask.

Though long-time fans of the character may be worried that the new movie will be a Caribbean-like parody of the venerable hero, that’s not necessarily the case. Rossio and Elliott also wrote The Mask of Zorro movie which successfully reinvented another masked Western hero. Rossio recently had lunch with Fred Foy, one of the announcers on the Ranger radio series, and Foy was enthusiastic about the co-writer’s plans.

Based on early information, it seems like the producers have every intent on being faithful to the Lone Ranger history and the movie will include the character’s origin story. Last Spring, Bruckheimer told MTV, “I wouldn’t say it’s an updating of the tale, I would say it’s kind of getting back to the roots of the tale, where it originated from… it’s about Texas Rangers, so we’re going to take it to how the characters are created.”

The film is expected to be released in 2010 and it’s hoped that Depp’s participation will help spawn another blockbuster franchise. Hi-yo Silver! TV Series Finale home page

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4 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Mike Gallagher says

    I am very excited about the new Lone Ranger movie. Too bad the both Clayton Moore and John Hart and Jay Silverheals are not alive to seen the movie done well.
    My preference for the Lone Ranger would be – Christian Bale; Ben Aflect or Matt Damon and not necessarily in that order. Personally, I think that Johnny Depp might be a bit too old for the role and also maybe the 3 actors I mentioned above. If he were 20 years younger, I would go with George Clooney for sure.
    On the other hand, there just might be a wonderful unknown actor out there doing one of the soap opera’s that would be perfect – I have got a few of those actors in mind also – one of which would be a fantastic Tonto.

  2. says

    I know whats going to happen, Johnny Depp is going to steal the Lone Rangers spot light! Just like he did in Pirates! You know that Disney thought that everyone was going to only care about Will and Elizabeth.
    But Johnny Depp came in and stole everyones hearts! Thats whats going to happen with the Lone Ranger. I think Johnny Depp would kick ass in this film, I can’t wait to see it.

    If you are a huge Johnny Depp fan check out my fanfictions and my youtube videos,

  3. M. Haman says

    Exciting! Can’t wait. What a great choice for Tonto. Hopefully this casting will bring sufficient credibility to attract a really huge star to the title role. And let’s hope there’s a little more “glitter” than the last LR movie. The character is, supposedly, wealthy…let’s see some silver and a little well-grounded panache.

  4. chuck says

    I think it is very important to portray Tonto as a noble, intelligent icon.
    If it doesn’t and we have another film based on stereotypes I will never
    watch another Disney movie again.

    Thank you

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