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Armie Hammer personifies the Lone Ranger for a new generation


L R: Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger Johnny Depp as Tonto

Ph: Peter Mountain

©Disney Enterprises Inc. Jerry Bruckheimer

"THE LONE RANGER" L to R: Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto Ph: Peter Mountain ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Updated: August 2, 2013 6:16AM

There were times during 125-degree heat waves or surprise snowstorms that blanked the mountains of Santa Fe that Armie Hammer stopped for a moment to ask, “How did I get here?”

“I’m not the most likely person to reinvent the Lone Ranger,” admits the 6-foot-5-inch actor, whose size wasn’t the only issue. “For starters, I did play Lone Ranger when I was a kid, but I was always Tonto.”

Second issue: His size. “I needed a tall horse. I’m not even joking here. I’m pretty tall, and I couldn’t lock my feet under the horse to hide them. I couldn’t look like the tall guy on this little pony.”

Luckily, he found a tall Silver, which leads Hammer to offer a tutorial on all things “Ranger.”

“Did you know,” he notes, “it’s not ‘Hi-Ho, Silver?’ The original line was, ‘Hi-Yo, Silver, away!’ ”

Hammer is on his way to reinventing a classic when “The Lone Ranger” hits multiplexes on Wednesday. The big-budget update stars Johnny Depp as Native American warrior Tonto, who teams with lawman John Reid, the future Lone Ranger.

Best known for playing the Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network,” Hammer says he had his fears about taking on the famous Western role.

“It was a little scary because it’s so iconic,” he says. “But I think the more you fear something, the more it can motivate you.”

“I finally decided that people could keep their nostalgic attachment to the character while we introduced it to a new generation.”

He did get special Ranger training. “All of us went to cowboy boot camp for three weeks, which was a working horse ranch in New Mexico. They loaded us into a van, kicked us out and said that they would beat the city out of us — and they did.”

He also had a pivotal wardrobe fitting.

“A bunch of us stood in a room with hundreds of masks. I heard, ‘Armie, try this one on. No, try this one on! No, not that one. Your face looks weird in that one. Try this other one.’ ”

Suddenly, he became that masked man.

“There was this one mask that hit on the bridge of my nose. I said, ‘Guys, I think we got it.’ I wish it was more of an iconic moment ... but it was more of a costume moment where I said, ‘Wow, this one fits.’ ”

Working with Depp was also a great fit. “The most important thing for my character is his inflated sense of justice. My mission is to bring law and order. That’s what the original was about, and that’s what our film is about at the core.

“It’s also a buddy movie. It’s about a man who finds a good buddy to help him and hang out with him.”

Depp fit that bill. “He’s a great actor and a really generous one,” he says. “If you are going to do a buddy movie, you want Johnny Depp as your buddy.”

He did have an issue with Depp: “As Tonto, Johnny spent an hour and a half in the makeup chair each day. There were times he even slept in the makeup. You really couldn’t go with him out to eat the next day. The makeup smelled that bad.”

At age 26, Hammer is coming up smelling pretty good these days in Hollywood. He’s the great-grandson of philanthropist Armand Hammer and grew up in the Cayman Islands, Dallas and Los Angeles, where he began acting.

He is set to star as Napoleon Solo in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” for director Guy Ritchie and co-starring Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”).

No matter what he does in the future, “The Social Network,” continues to haunt him.

“I’m constantly asked what my brother is doing or where he is located,” he says. “I’m like, ‘I don’t see another 6-foot-5 guy lurking around.’ ”

Big Picture News Inc.

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