[Update: A rep for Ryan Gosling is saying the actor will not appear in Lone Ranger.]

Director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp will return to the western genre once again with the in-development film version of The Lone Ranger, now shortened to just Lone Ranger. Judging by the pair’s previous comments about the project, it promises to be just as unconventional an Old West adventure as their recent animated collaboration, Rango.

Depp has been prepped to portray the Ranger’s loyal American Indian sidekick Tonto for a few years now, but there’s been little discussion since about who would portray the titular star of Lone Ranger – partly because Depp’s involvement and the name brand are the really big selling points for the picture.

The Wrap has learned that none other than Oscar-nominee Ryan Gosling is in talks to sign on as The Lone Ranger, a masked Texas Ranger who adheres to a strict moral code and fights injustice in the American Old West. Gosling would follow in the footsteps of Clayton Moore, who famously portrayed the titular character in the 1950s’ Lone Ranger TV series – and Klinton Spilsbury, who starred in the poorly-received Legend of the Lone Ranger movie in 1981.

Here’s what Verbinski has said in the past about his planned approach to the Lone Ranger mythos:

“We’re not going to do it [straight], everyone knows that story. I don’t want to tell that story. I want the version from the untrustworthy narrator who might be a little crazy — but somehow the question is, is he crazy or is the world crazy? That, I find fascinating.”

So it sounds like Verbinski’s Lone Ranger will be less the traditional noble-minded hero and more an off-beat, even comical cowboy creation in the vein of Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger from True Grit. Take that as you will.

Damon in ‘True Grit’.

Gosling is already onboard as the leading man in Warner Bros.’ remake of Logan’s Run, which aims to begin filming by the second half of 2011. While that could affect his availability to join Depp in Lone Ranger, Disney is currently planning on a 2014 release date for the film – so if negotiations with Gosling don’t work out, it shouldn’t be related to a scheduling conflict.

So what would Gosling’s take on The Lone Ranger be like? He’s a fairly versatile actor who rarely seems to turn in a bad performance – and he is quite talented at making the characters he plays feel all the more authentic, be it a drug-addled teacher (Half Nelson) or an almost child-like husband (Blue Valentine).

One character archetype that Gosling has handled well in the past is that of the kind but undeniable oddball (see: Lars and the Real Girl) whose mental well-being is not at all a given. Considering Verbinski’s plans to create an incarnation of The Lone Ranger who is more Don Quixote than anything else, it seems that Gosling could fit that (eccentric) mold perfectly.

‘The Real Girl’ and Lars (Gosling).

Verbinski has attempted to mix post-modern philosophical musings with popcorn movie elements in his previous films, but the results have been disjointed and messy, up to now. Lone Ranger sounds like it too will attempt to balance comedy and action bits with more overt thought-provoking material – and while that juggling act doesn’t have much to do with pre-established Lone Ranger lore, maybe Verbinski will be able to pull it off better this time around.

UPDATE: Ryan Gosling’s rep has informed EW that the actor will not be headlining Lone Ranger after all.

How does Lone Ranger sound to you so far?

Source: The Wrap