Johnny Depp discusses playing Tonto and ‘Rango’ for ‘Lone Ranger’ director Gore Verbinski

It was about 113 degrees outside in Santa Fe when i sat down to talk to Johnny Depp about his role as Tonto in Gore Verbinski’s ‘The Lone Ranger,’ which opens tomorrow.

I didn’t realize how much altitude is also an issue in Santa Fe, and I found myself drinking about a full bottle of water between each interview and still drying out in the middle. I’m not sure how Depp managed to sit there all day and still look like… well, like Johnny Depp. Considering he just turned 50, I’m pretty sure he had the real Fountain Of Youth built into his contract for “Pirates Of The Caribbean 4” as a rider. As always, he seemed soft-spoken and incredibly serious about his work, a good interview because you know that he’s really thinking about his answers.

I love “Rango.” I think it is so jam-packed with Verbinski’s obvious fondness for Westerns that it feels almost giddy, and Rango is a great character for Depp to give voice. There’s something perfect about his weird exaggerated appearance and Depp’s dry Joe Friday-like delivery that makes me laugh right away. When that film came out, we spoke to Depp about it, and I even asked him at the end of that interview about when we might be able to expect Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” on Blu-ray.

Thankfully, that has happened now, and so if you watch this interview and you feel compelled to want to watch Depp pay tribute to the Western, give dignity to the Indian people, and tip his hat to Buster Keaton, do a triple feature of “Rango,” “Dead Man,” and “Benny and Joon” and skip “The Lone Ranger” completely.

Oh… did I mention that I didn’t care for the film?

There certainly seem to be people who did dig it, and this summer, almost every character-based franchise film has been greeted by a fairly divided response. Maybe you’ll love the tone of “The Lone Ranger” and you’ll thrill to the 2 1/2 hours of grim busywork.

Whatever the case, I do appreciate the time with Verbinski and the cast, and I think they explain their approach very well in these interviews.

“The Lone Ranger” is in theaters tomorrow.