Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger almost fell completely out of the saddle after the classic western adaptation’s budget climbed to over $250 million, thanks to a screenplay which (at some point) is rumored to have included an animated sequence, a giant Wendigo, and werewolves – among other anomalies.

Considering that Verbinski’s last venture into the western genre, Rango – which is favored to win this year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar – boasts a Hunter S. Thompson-inspired protagonist and a spiritual entity in the form of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name riding a golf cart (among other off-beat aspects), it’s less surprising that the filmmaker’s latest collaboration with Johnny Depp was originally shaping up to be equally surreal.

Principal photography on Lone Ranger is getting underway in New Mexico, with a shooting script – as co-penned by Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy writers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio – that recounts the eponymous masked cowboy’s adventures in the following (conventional?) manner:

Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer) a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

In a new interview with The Playlist, Verbinski downplays the idea that Lone Ranger will be as overly off-kilter and bizarre as we’ve been led to believe so far, saying:

“[‘Lone Ranger’ is] going to be photo-real and it’s going to be interesting in its own way, but it’s a complete stepping back over the fence from ‘Rango’.”

The term “photo-real” seems to imply that we’ll be getting a pretty grounded portrayal of the Old West, more along the lines of recent westerns such as the Coen Brother’s True Grit or the AMC TV series Hell on Wheels – or, rather, an Old West as filthy and rundown as the world in Versbinski’s Pirates trilogy.

Verbinski also had the following to say, with regards to those pesky werewolf rumors:

 “I don’t know where this idea of werewolves came from. It’s never been in any draft I’ve worked on. But there’s a kind of Native American overlay of omens and other things happening that we don’t fully understand.”

Lone Ranger producer Jerry Bruckheimer previously mentioned that a scene involving “supernatural coyotes” had been cut from the script, while the budget was being trimmed down. That particular element is believed to be the source of the werewolf rumors that ran rampant (and sent many fans up the wall) last year.

However, the main element that continues to rub many longtime Lone Ranger fans the wrong way is Verbinski’s previous suggestion that the John Reid/Tonto dynamic will be akin to that between Britt Reid/Kato in last year’s Green Hornet movie (ie. the former is a comical foil for his more capable sidekick). Like it or not, that element isn’t being dropped from the film.

Lone Ranger is set to hit theaters in the U.S. on May 31st, 2013.

Source: The Playlist