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Lone Ranger, Tonto entertain junketing writers

Johnny Depp, left, distracts Armie Hammer while answering questions at a press junket for "The Lone Ranger."  Adrian Gomez/Journal
Johnny Depp, left, distracts Armie Hammer while answering questions at a press junket for "The Lone Ranger." Adrian Gomez/Journal
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Movie press event draws 300

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer provided plenty of laughs at “The Lone Ranger” press junket Wednesday for more than 300 writers from around the world who had been flown in for the event at Bishop’s Lodge Resort.

The two stars traded quips, and director Gore Verbinski chimed in and said, “This is the reason we took 150 days to shoot.”

Depp at one point wrapped his arms around Hammer and began pinching the hair on Hammer’s arm while Hammer answered questions.

For more than an hour, a six-member panel consisting of Depp, Hammer, Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, William Fichtner and Ruth Wilson fielded questions from reporters.

Bruckheimer produced the film, Fichtner plays outlaw Butch Cavendish and Wilson plays Hammer’s love interest, Rebecca Reid.

Depp kept it cool when answering questions about his version of Tonto, saying he wanted to build a character with respect to Native American history.

“There’s a lot of history with Native Americans that I learned before taking on this role,” he said. “It was a role that I wanted to bring justice to.”

Depp said he grew up watching the black-and-white version of “The Lone Ranger” on TV as a child and was always stumped on why Tonto was a sidekick.

“The Lone Ranger” was filmed in Albuquerque and had its home base at Albuquerque Studios. Disney built a set in Rio Puerco – complete with train tracks – and a good portion of the film was shot in New Mexico, as well in Colorado and Utah.

Bruckheimer said he wanted to do a new version of “The Lone Ranger” because the two characters remain enduring fixtures of the American cultural landscape.

“There’s something about these characters that have appealed to every generation since they were invented,” Bruckheimer said. “I grew up in Detroit, and ‘The Lone Ranger’ radio and TV shows were part of my youth, and millions of others as well.”

Wilson said she was honored to be part of the film. She said her on-screen romance with Hammer was something that Verbinski wanted to get right.

“We sat down with Gore and talked about the relationship,” she said. “It was quite nice to work with Armie.”

The film tells the story of how John Reid became The Lone Ranger.

Bruckheimer said he was thrilled that Verbinski, who worked on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise with him, was on board.

“Gore is an amazingly talented director, someone who encompasses it all,” he said. “Sometimes you find a director who does comedy well but can’t do action, or those who can only do action. Gore is one of the very few directors who can do everything – action, drama, comedy, animation.”

The $250 million film opens nationwide on July 3.

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