Just in terms of approaching it from a modern sensibility standpoint, there are classic elements of the character in the film that actually get flipped and it becomes a kind of deconstruction. Where is the perspective when you’re doing that for certain things versus not doing it for other things?
You just start at the beginning and you start working through it. Some of that stuff is in your DNA, you know, from watching a thousand westerns, understanding superheroes and masked characters. So, it’s kind of less the plotting it out from, the intention isn’t in that. The intention is sort of how do we make the story relevant? How do we take this cop and this Native American and shackle them together and then put them on this quest where their worlds are colliding and they’re the only two people who know the truth and nobody else believes them and how they unravel that truth. So you get into a buddy movie. This is going to have to work, two guys that sort of don’t get along, but it’s Midnight Run, and that’s kind of the engine underneath this thing and then you deal with the bigger issues, the bigger subtext, of the train and progress and this sort post-modern western.
And that’s actually something else I wanted to talk about, because you do, I mean the relationship between Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Tonto, it’s very light-hearted. It’s very silly at times, but at the same time, this film, as a Disney movie, probably has one of the higher body counts we’ve seen. From the tonal perspective, when you were kind of looking at the big picture, how did you find that balance?
Well, I think once you put Johnny Depp as Tonto you make Tonto relevant, and once you make Tonto relevant, you have to deal with the Native American issues and you have the deal with kind of loss and you have to acknowledge, you know, and those open up these wonderful kind of themes, which are the truths of dealing with. We all got on this train, and we all got to this place, and none of us ever looked back. “It’s like, “Hey, wait a minute,” you know? What did we leave behind? There was some sort of understanding of, you’ve got the laws of nature and the laws of man and you’re kind of, that’s the yin and yang of these two characters, so if you can expand from that and say... That’s why the landscapes are important. That’s why they’re a character in the movie and that’s why this train track in this line, kind of quantifying and dividing land, that’s a foreign concept to the Native Americans. The train becomes a character, those are sort of wonderful things to play with.
To kind of go back to my first question, when you are considering a new project, what exactly are you considering? Are you thinking about genre or are you just looking at the story and the characters and with the genre being secondary?
It’s different in each case. Honestly, you know, I don’t approach it... What you do, as soon as you read something or conceive something or are playing with something, I think you have to stop yourself and go, “Why do I have to tell this story?” you know, and before you get too far in, because the worst thing in the world is to be in a three year project and go, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” So, if you can’t answer the question. If any director can’t answer the question, “Why do I have to tell this story,” and I think that’s the key to, you know, if you can’t, because nothing is going to get you up in the morning if you’re not driven.
So, what kind of ideas are you thinking about now?
You know, a lot of different things, nothing even remotely close to, you know, I’d like to try and make a smaller movie, but I know talking to my friends who are trying to raise funds, it’s like even just as hard as making one of these big ones, but for different reasons. It’s crazy out there right now.