Armie Hammer doesn't have a future as a stand-up comic. Just minutes before I sit down for a chat with the "Lone Ranger" star, he attempted a joke in front of a packed press conference, Johnny Depp by his side. It did not go well. "What do you call 64 Cherokee in a room?" he asked, interrupting Depp. "Full blood!" His punchline, unfortunately, was met with a frosty, confused silence. "It's a safe joke," he offered.
So after that, I have to ask what your unsafe jokes are like.
Oh, no no. I'm afraid I'm already going to get in enough trouble probably for that safe joke.
Did that feel like it didn't quite go over well?
I think it went over as best as could be expected. It's a cold room.
You're the title character here, but this is very much a Johnny Depp movie. Is there any ego-checking you need to do to get used to that idea?
He's been involved in this movie since 2006. I mean, if I actually went into it with the idea of "I'm playing the Lone Ranger, this is my movie," then I probably would've had to go through some kind of process, but I was just happy to be there working. Even if they'd just been like, "You only have to work 50 days on this movie" — which I definitely didn't have to do, I had to work a s—load, but it was great, every minute of it.
You've got your classic western hero, plus you've done the all-American G-man in "J. Edgar," the Harvard twins in "The Social Network" and Prince Charming in "Mirror, Mirror." Are you worried at all about typecasting?
Not really. I think that's just how people see me, which is fine. I mean, I'm not complaining by any means. It looks like I've been doing OK with it in terms of getting jobs. I'm not worried about getting typecast because I don’t really think about types when I choose a movie. For me it's just more important about who's involved.
Are there roles that are more against type for you that you've been dying to play?
I'm sure I could do that actor masturbatory thing of, "I'd love to get face tattoos and shave my head." I don't know, I'll take whatever job has a great director and a great script.
Was there anyone on the set counting how many bullets were fired? Because there are a few sequences…
Yes, yes there was! Harry Lu. Anytime he gave a, "Just so you know we've shot more than six bullets," it was made clear to everybody, but then it was like a "Whatever, we've just got to do this" kind of thing. But yes, a lot of bullets. But [with counting bullets], it looks like you're going into it looking for a problem. Just go into it to be entertained and you will be sufficiently entertained — or Disney will give you your money back.
I don't know if they have that in writing.
It's all right, it's a verbal contract. It's binding.
Meeting Armie Hammer, it's very, very hard not to like him. The man is charming, polite and intensely good-natured. Coincidentally, that's exactly how he feels about his "Lone Ranger" co-star, Johnny Depp. And it's those shared traits that create the chemistry between the Lone Ranger and Tonto necessary for the film to work. "I would say that it's 90 percent just that we're both generally agreeable people and 10 percent that almost everyone else that you deal with in this business sucks," Hammer says. "You can smell that s— when someone's working with someone they don't actually like."