Posted on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
There might be some serious irony here. Johnny Depp was once cast as a version of Sancho Panza in Terry Gilliam’s film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. That first version of Mr. Gilliam’s film was shut down. When it was briefly revived, Johnny Depp was no longer along for the ride, in part because of his packed blockbuster schedule.
One of those blockbusters is The Lone Ranger, to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango director Gore Verbinski for Disney. The director has been saying that the film’s version of Tonto, to be played by Johnny Depp, is much like Sancho Panza. More to the point, Tonto will really be the main character of this version of the story. Now he has elaborated on that angle to some degree.
Speaking to the LA Times while promoting Rango, the director said,
The only version of ‘The Lone Ranger’ I’m interested in doing is ‘Don Quixote’ told from Sancho Panza’s point of view… And hence I was honest early on with Johnny that Tonto is the part. We’re not going to do it [straight], everyone knows that story. I don’t want to tell that story.
This actually makes the film a lot more interesting, and helps us make sense of the fact that one of the world’s biggest movie stars was cast in what seemed at first like a supporting role. The director also says,
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.
The film isn’t yet written — they’re working on the script, and Mr. Verbinski says it is at “the primordial stage,” but his comments make it quite clear that he’s applying some of the ideas behind Johnny Depp’s Pirates character Captain Jack Sparrow to this tale. So we’ll see a version of The Lone Ranger driven by a slightly subversive, ironic and untrustworthy lead. That’s one good way to do a remake — add a new perspective, and question (implicitly, at least) the values and ideas put forth in the original version(s). I know that a lot of people want to see Bioshock get made, but I’m just as happy leaving that as a great video game experience, so that Mr. Verbinski can do this film instead.