The Lone Ranger star Ruth Wilson had the distinct honor of having a front row seat to two magical parts of filming the summer blockbuster and tells Movie Fanatic exclusively about it. First, she could see the terrific film tandem that is Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski. The pair has now made their fifth film together after three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Oscar-winning Rango.
Second, Wilson saw what we called terrific casting in our The Lone Ranger review of the explosive chemistry of the two leads -- Depp and Armie Hammer. The British actress portrays the wife of the Lone Ranger’s brother, who may or may not be a love interest for the hero when his sibling perishes in the gunfight that makes our Ranger fly solo.
We met Wilson in Santa Fe, New Mexico near where the film was shot to talk The Lone Ranger… where she also talks about what it means to her to be in the institution that is a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.
Movie Fanatic: I know it was a 150-day plus shoot, but where does it rank for you in your career?
Ruth Wilson: It was long, but every day I was on the set it was amazing -- the landscapes, the people I was working with, the stunt people, the trains… it was unlike anything I had worked on before.
Movie Fanatic: What did it mean to you to be in a Bruckheimer movie?
Ruth Wilson: It’s amazing really -- it’s the pinnacle of a big blockbuster movie. It’s bombastic, big, brave and visually stunning. I keep pinching myself because there aren’t many of these movies that are being made of this scale or magnitude. Someone like Jerry, who I think is one of these rare creative producers that still exist, gives license to directors to create the movies they want to create and he trusts them.
Movie Fanatic: Gore, I feel, is just getting going. How would you describe the Gore Verbinski experience?
Ruth Wilson: I was amazed by Gore. For me, there is no one else like him who can deal with a crew like this -- he’s a general of an army. He battles from the front and he doesn’t compromise his vision. He fights tooth and nail every day to get what he wants. I felt that he cared and he wanted the truth of every scene. He said to everyone, “This might be an enormous movie, but treat it like your most personal movie.”
Movie Fanatic: What was he like on the set?
Ruth Wilson: Every day he wore a cowboy cap with a big cigar in his hand, like an old school movie director! He’s like a 12-year-old boy in a man’s body. He’s got such imagination and passion and creativity and he works harder than anyone else on set. So every day you’re working to keep up with him. He was open to the intimate moments, as much as the spectacle. I think he’s a genius with a bit of rebelliousness, which I respond to. I think Johnny does too, that’s why he works with him so much. There’s a subversiveness that is rare to see on this scale.
Movie Fanatic: Subversive is such the right word. I mean, who leaves the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to go make Rango?
Ruth Wilson: And win an Oscar! I get excited thinking about what he is going to do next. I think you’re right… he’s just getting going.
Movie Fanatic: How much did the costuming inform your character? It appears from the outside like it was a huge part of the process.
Ruth Wilson: It’s a Disney movie, and in the same vein as the Pirates movies. And there’s a whole thing with a Disney movie of this scale. There’s something about it being subtle and specific, but universal as well. My character is a frontier woman, so there’s this stock, gritty, earthy outfit which was practical -- which was in contrast with this outfit that Nathan Cole (Tom Wilkinson) dressed her in. It’s not what the character would wear. For me, it was really interesting to have those outfits to play against or to play with. It gives me clarity as an actress.
Movie Fanatic: Cannot think of a better pair to play two leads (as seen from this first The Lone Ranger trailer)… you had a front row seat to Armie and Johnny. What impressed you most about their chemistry?
Ruth Wilson: It was brilliantly cast in the sense that the Lone Ranger is a man who is out of his depth, which is Armie. He’s a character who has such integrity and is suddenly thrown into a world that cannot be changed. And the idea that this young, innocent (Hammer) comes into a world that has been done before... Like Johnny, Jerry and Gore, in the Hollywood world, those guys know the tics and the downfalls. Johnny is cast against this guy who is young and hopeful. What you saw with these two was a dynamic that worked, instantly.