Armie Hammer becomes leading man in 'Lone Ranger'
In this Monday, June 10, 2013 photo, actor Armie Hammer poses for a portrait at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Hammer takes on his first major leading-man role opposite Johnny Depp in “The Lone Ranger.” The movie releases July 3, 2013. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — If it weren't for the movie "Home Alone," Armie Hammer might not be starring in "The Lone Ranger." Seeing the 1990 Macaulay Culkin hit inspired Hammer to become an actor.
"I had a dream that night that I was the kid in the house with the blowtorch and all that stuff and thinking, 'This is awesome! I love acting!'" said Hammer, recalling the thoughts of his 11-year-old self. "I knew this was for me. It was the only thing I wanted to do."
He convinced his parents to let him quit high school to pursue his dream, and now the 26-year-old actor is playing one of the most revered American characters in a big-budget blockbuster starring Johnny Depp.
After a bumpy start that included a brief return to school, he already counts Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts and David Fincher among his past collaborators. Hammer gained notice playing the Winklevoss twins in 2010's celebrated "The Social Network." Then he earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his supporting role in 2011's "J.Edgar." But with "The Lone Ranger," the actor steps squarely into the spotlight with his first bona fide leading-man role.
In this Monday, June 10, 2013 photo, actor Armie Hammer laughs as he poses for a portrait at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif. Hammer takes on his first major leading-man role opposite Johnny Depp in “The Lone Ranger.” The movie releases July 3, 2013. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
"It's like I can't believe I've been this lucky," Hammer says with a sincerity belied by his football-captain good looks.
Though he auditioned for the part several times, director Gore Verbinski knew immediately he'd found his Lone Ranger.
"When I first met him, I just knew he was the guy," said Verbinski, who likened Hammer to "somebody who's a little out-of-time, like seeing Gary Cooper walk into a supermarket or something."
"He's like this classical leading man, and that's not to say that he isn't contemporary," the director continued. "Armie's tall, handsome, and genuine, and who doesn't want to throw that into a meat grinder?"
Hammer plays lawman John Reid and Depp is Tonto in this origin story of how the Lone Ranger came to wear his mask. To prepare for the role, Hammer spent months immersed in all the "Lone Ranger" radio and TV episodes and books and comics he could find, and perfected his gun-slinging and horse-riding skills at a three-week "cowboy camp."