Johnny Depp has played his share of real-life people. He is starring as former Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in the upcoming crime drama "Black Mass" (due out next year). And in the past he's been the cinematic alter ego of low-budget '50s filmmaker Ed Wood, FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (in "Donnie Brasco"), and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson -- whom Depp has played twice now.
But the chameleonic 49-year-old actor has set the bar a lot higher for his dream biopic. "Carol Channing. I mean that. She's fantastic," Depp said during Yahoo! Movies's live "Lone Ranger" Q&A on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Asked by a fan who he would like to play next in a film, Depp indicated he was serious about his plan to play comedic actress Channing, who is now 92 years old. Later in the discussion, Depp also quipped that he dressed up as Channing when he was a kid -- and not as any of "The Lone Ranger" characters.
He added that he would also love to do the life story of 86-year-old comedian Don Rickles, joking, "I don't know if he's well known in China."
Depp, who plays Tonto in this summer's "The Lone Ranger," was on stage with the masked man himself, Armie Hammer. The film's producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski joined the ride.
When Depp got more serious, he admitted he slept in his thick white and black Tonto makeup during "The Lone Ranger" shoot. "You really can't go into a restaurant at that point," he joked, adding that he sat in the makeup chair for up to two hours every time the gunk was applied. "It smells exactly how it looks," Hammer chimed in, indicating it was stinky.
All four men revealed "The Lone Ranger" shoot was tough. Verbinski said it was his toughest. In fact, he and Hammer said they can't even watch the finished film without thinking about the toil. "Every image that shows up is a sense memory of absolute misery and pain and torture and nothing was going right and the weather was horrendous," Verbinski recalled. "You watch it and you remember being there," Hammer said, adding his reaction to seeing 20 minutes of footage shown at CinemaCon on Wednesday went something like this: "Man, it was 120 degrees that day, the cameras weren't working because it was so hot." Hammer added that some of the crew were forced to carry 1,500-pound camera dollies over the crest of a mountain – "experiences you wouldn't get on any other movie."
Depp concurred, the road to "Ranger" was rough, saying he was "in the trenches … the muck" and that it was "miserable at times."
The height of his misery, he indicated, was when he almost got trampled by a horse. "[When] you're on a horse moving at high speed and you realize you're under it … suddenly staying alive on the horse was my biggest challenge." He later describe seeing "the striations of muscle in his enormous body," then trailed off into jokes with the panel about nearly consummating his relationship with the animal.
Channing and horse jokes. Go figure.
"The Lone Ranger" gallops into theaters July 3.
Watch the exclusive final trailer for 'The Lone Ranger':
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