Actually, they got a trifecta out of one
announcement. By bringing Johnny Depp onstage dressed and
performing as Captain Jack Sparrow, chairman Dick Cook not
only revealed that the charming leading character actor
would be the Lone Ranger's sidekick, he would return as
Sparrow in a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film
and play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's current production
of Alice in Wonderland.
That last one was pretty well-known, and
despite weak protests to the contrary, anybody with the
slightest understanding of how wheels turn in Hollywood
would know that Depp would return to piracy. Besides, he
clearly had too much fun doing that trilogy.
However, the Tonto announcement came out
of the blue. Obviously producer Jerry Bruckheimer struck
gold once by casting Depp, and might consider him a bit
of a good-luck charm - though considering the guy's talent,
it's not much of a risk.
This does place the film, to be adapted
by Pirate screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio,
at a later stage in the Lone Ranger and Tonto's lives than
most portrayals. The current Dynamite Entertainment comic
book has him in twenties, while Depp in his mid-forties.
Previously portrayed on film by Native
American actors Jay Silverheels and Michael Horse, Tonto
has evolved from telegraphic speaker (in radio and early
TV episodes) to teacher, crimefighting partner and possibly
even much wiser than the title character. Depp would continue
one important tradition - the actor is of Cherokee descent.
Of course, another big question is "who
will be that masked man?" Aint It Cool News reports a rumor
that Disney is pursuing George Clooney, a very cool choice
that once again, though, would put this with two leads rapidly
aging out of franchise potential.
In a strange twist, Clooney was once attached
to play the Lone Ranger's great-nephew, crusading newspaper
publisher Britt Reid aka the Green Hornet. That role
has now gone to Seth Rogen in a Columbia Production slated
for summer 2010 release. The Lone Ranger seems to
be on track for 2011 at the earliest. Now if only the two
franchises could acknowledge each other, this would be completely