Who needs green screen when you can just put a movie star on the edge of a cliff ... like, for real?
There of course will be plenty of computer-generated wizardry on display in Disney's upcoming summer blockbuster, "The Lone Ranger." But perhaps even more impressive than any bit of CG razzle-dazzle will be just how much good old-fashioned, get-your-hands-dirty moviemaking went into the production ... and just how dangerous it sometimes got.
The Lone Ranger can't rightly be the Lone Ranger without proving that he's no coward, and star Armie Hammer truly got to test his mettle when he was placed at the top of the "Spirit Platform," a rather tall and kind of flimsy-looking set that overlooks a 2,000-foot drop on the edge of Utah's Dead Horse Point.
Armie Hammer stands atop the 'Spirit Platform' for 'The Lone Ranger' (Photo: Walt Disney Pictures/Facebook)
Attached to a harness, Hammer had to walk to the edge of the platform and gaze into the abyss as a helicopter flies by and gets the shot. "It almost blew me off the whole thing," said the 26-year-old actor.
So why go through all this trouble (and insurance money) when you can just shoot this from the safety of a green screen studio?
"I dunno how to do that," mumbles director Gore Verbinski with a wink, looking right at home on the Moab, Utah set with his scruffy beard and cowboy hat.
We know from the Q&A at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this past April that Verbinski had a difficult time shooting "The Lone Ranger," which he described as "the hardest film ever." But it appears as though he brought a lot of those seemingly insurmountable challenges on himself with his down n' dirty, "unplugged" approach.
"I tried to actually put people on trains, on horses, under horses, in the dirt," said Verbinski at CinemaCon. "I tried to make it feel like all of it actually occurred. We were a very large production, but lo-fi."
Yes, they actually built a to-scale, functioning (at least in theory) train for "The Lone Ranger" ... and, like the mechanical shark in "Jaws," it wasn't much of a team player.
"The train never worked," said Verbinski. "It was nuts. It was insane."
Insane? Kind of like putting your lead actor on a platform overlooking a 2,000-foot cliff and telling him to walk to the edge and look down?
Armie Hammer, at least, takes it all in stride ... sort of. "It's kind of tingly, I'm not going to lie," says Hammer after embracing his director upon getting the shot. "It's pretty high up there."
But this is the Lone Ranger we're talking about, after all, and flirting with certain death is ultimately all in a day's for the masked avenger. "Worry-warts!" exclaims Hammer at the end of the featurette, playfully mocking the obviously very nervous crew.
"The Lone Ranger" rides -- for real, apparently -- into theaters on July 3.
Watch 'The Lone Ranger' Trailer:
- Armie Hammer
- Gore Verbinski