Disney’s much-ballyhooed Lone Ranger movie is gearing up to begin principal photography by February 2012. The film will feature Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the famous masked renegade cowboy, Johnny Depp playing the American Indian Tonto, and a storyline that offers a (controversial) new spin on the traditional Ranger mythos.

Production on Lone Ranger has been held up long enough as to create some uncertainty about which formerly-rumored supporting cast members are still onboard for the film (or, conversely, have passed on the project). According to a new report, director Gore Verbinski is working hard to secure his originally-planned Lone Ranger cast.

Deadline is reporting that previously-rumored Lone Ranger stars like Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland), Barry Pepper (True Grit), James Badge Dale (The Pacific), and actor/musician Dwight Yoakam (Crank) are all actively working out deals to appear in the film. Ruth Wilson (Luther) remains locked as the female lead, while Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) is close to securing a deal to portray the Lone Ranger’s antagonist, as was previously rumored.

Here is a quick rundown of the various Lone Ranger supporting characters:

  • Buch Cavendish (Yoakam), the outlaw whose gang leaves John Reid (Hammer) for dead
  • Rebecca Reid (Wilson), the Ranger’s sister-in-law and possible love interest
  • Dan Reid (Dale), John’s older brother and head of the Texas Rangers
  • Captain J. Fuller (Pepper), leader of the seventh cavalry
  • A “colorful” madam (Carter) who runs a brothel
  • Latham Cole (Wilkinson), a villainous railroad tycoon

The Lone Ranger screenplay features contributions from Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) and Pirates of the Caribbean writing duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio; however, it has been significantly reworked, in order to reduce the budget from an estimated $250 million to $215 million. Admitted script omissions so far include an animated segment and “supernatural coyotes” (ie. the film’s much-decried werewolves?).

Carter, Pepper, and Yoakam are up to star in 'Lone Ranger'

Lone Ranger looks to feature an overall eclectic, yet talented, acting crew and is being brought to life by several people who specialize in big-budget, high-adventure blockbuster filmmaking. Combine that with Depp’s star power, Disney’s marketing prowess, and reports that Verbinski’s new project will feature (among other things) the most complicated train-based action sequence/set piece ever captured on celluloid – and it’s easy to see how this Lone Ranger project could end up drawing in the masses and recouping its intimidating budget.

However, there are a handful of factors working against the film, most prominently:

  • Continued anger amongst longtime Lone Ranger fans that Verbinski’s adaptation will deviate significantly from traditional lore
  • Controversy over whether or not both Depp’s Cherokee heritage and the movie’s mythological aspects are enough for Lone Ranger to qualify as a genuine celebration of American Indian culture, which the filmmakers claim is their intention

For the time being it seems safe to say that Lone Ranger should do all right in theaters (financially speaking). Whether or not it will prove popular enough to cover its expenses – and, more importantly, whether or not people actually like it – is another matter.

We will find out for certain when Lone Ranger hits theaters around the U.S. on May 31st, 2013.

Source: Deadline