James Badge Dale is having quite a summer. As we sat down for an exclusive interview at Walt Disney Studios, The Lone Ranger star was humble when it came to his summer movie season that has seen him in not one, but three huge movies: The Johnny Depp-starring update of the Western hero, World War Z with Brad Pitt and he began the summer opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3.
Dale portrays Armie Hammer’s cinematic alter ego John Reid’s older brother. In many ways, he provides the catalyst that sends our story into overdrive, as we stated in our The Lone Ranger review.
The Lone Ranger trailer teases his role, and we dive deeper into the film with Dale, as well as his thoughts on one remarkable summer.
Movie Fanatic: Your character launches our story, gives us the groundwork for who will be the Lone Ranger. When you read the script, what struck you the most about your character?
James Badge Dale: Someone asked me, “Why would you want to play this character? He’s gone in the first half-hour." No man, he lives through the entire film. That’s what I loved about the guy. He has to land something. I have to do something with this character here so the younger brother can become the Lone Ranger. It’s a pitch to Armie as John Reid. As the older brother dies, the younger brother takes over and he supersedes the older brother. He becomes this different entity. The older brother is almost a metaphor for this world that is changing through “progress.” People are being pushed out and a code of ethics are being pushed away and replaced by something new.
Movie Fanatic: One of the best lines in the movie is when John Reid says, “If this is the law, I would rather be an outlaw.”
James Badge Dale: Gore (Verbinski, director) and I talked about that, where under different circumstances he was falling on the other side of the law. We wanted that to be one of the themes of the film.
Movie Fanatic: Speaking of Gore, nobody can put together a story with such scope as he does. The last 30-40 minutes of any of his movies, you have to hold your breath. As an actor entering the world of Gore, how did expectations meet reality?
James Badge Dale: Expectations are so dangerous in this world, in this business. Gore is one of my favorite directors. He’s unflappable. He has a passion for his projects and he loves making films and that trickles down. As a cast member, you have passion. All of his crew that have been with him since Pirates of the Caribbean, they will go to the ends of the earth for Gore Verbinski. Only, because they know that he will go to the end of the earth for them.
Movie Fanatic: There are varying degrees of the Lone Ranger’s brother since its first incarnation. Did you go back at all and look at any of that? Or, was it about this script and this story?
James Badge Dale: I started to go back, and something in my body said, “Don’t.” It felt wrong and I put it all away. It’s important for our story to be fresh and new. It has to be our own take. I hope we did that. I saw the film and that’s the film we wanted to make. I think people that have expectations -- they will be blown out of the water.
Movie Fanatic: We’ve heard of the Lone Ranger, but most of us haven’t seen too much of this world. When did you first become aware of the hero?
James Badge Dale: We’re too young to remember, yet we’ve lived with it our entire lives. He’s such an iconic character. I can’t think of a moment when I didn’t know who he was. It’s still [laughs] funny to me, a cowboy wearing a mask! See, that is one of the brilliant things Gore did, he addressed that in the line, “You want me to wear a mask?” He didn’t restart something and try to forget that any of this happened in the past.
Movie Fanatic: You worked closely with Armie Hammer. I feel that he is someone who is just scratching the surface of his potential. Actor to actor, what did you take away from working opposite him?
James Badge Dale: Armie is a guy who can go 100 degrees to the right and turn on a dime and go 100 degrees to the left. He never leaves you out of it. He’s game for everything. There’s never a moment he’s not with you. He’s a fearless and talented, younger actor. I can say younger, because I’m his older brother [laughs].
Movie Fanatic: You are also in Iron Man 3, World War Z and now The Lone Ranger. How is it for you to know you have three big movies released in the coveted summer movie season?
James Badge Dale: It’s strange. It’s new territory. This summer has bookended two years of work for me. These movies all came out within two months of each other. This part of the process is about putting it to bed. It’s an interesting thing about film. People start off in a room writing it, and then we go and shoot it. And they go off into another room and they edit it in the dark and put it together. And we all come together and we have this one moment -- it’s opening night and we all get to see it. I’m proud of all three of these films. It’s something kind of right about putting them to bed. I now can move on to other things.
Movie Fanatic: What’s next?
James Badge Dale: [Laughs] I’ll be getting into trouble if I say. You’re going to smile when you see it!