Armie Hammer plays boss to the world’s most famous bohemian actor in The Lone Ranger. Could his life be about to imitate his art, asks Emily Phillips
Armie Hammer is a laidback guy. But then he’s got little to worry about. Hailing from a mega-rich petroleum dynasty (the company behind Arm & Hammer toothpaste fame), he’s an imposingly handsome 6ft 4in, blissfully married and gets paid to horse around with Johnny Depp. Following props-worthy roles
in The Social Network (as the Winklevoss twins) and J Edgar (as Hoover’s colleague/lover), 26-year-old Hammer is Disney’s latest franchise hope. When we speak, The Lone Ranger is pre-release, so the cheery Californian is feeling hopeful.
The film is a family-friendly mix of cartoonish characters and sweeping action sequences. Following a troubled production and rumoured $250m budget, the box office return-on-investment remains to be seen. But even if we don’t see a sequel, the film is still sure to open some heavy saloon doors in Hollywood for Hammer.
Your great-grandfather was an oil tycoon who was friends with royalty. Did your family heritage hold you back or spur you on?
It pushed me, as there was a healthy sense of rebellion to it. It was very much expected for us to go to college. And I was like, “I wanna burn everything down and p*ss on the ashes, so I’m gonna be an actor!”
Your parents apparently cut you off when you dropped out of high school to act. Did becoming the Lone Ranger win them back round?
They weren’t going to let me end up homeless on the street, but it was made very clear that this was not the acceptable decision to make. Once I was able to prove to them I was doing this because I loved it, they started to accept it. But yeah, things like this definitely help.
So you didn’t go to college?
I took one class and I was like, “This is as stupid as I thought it was.”
Were you supposed to follow in the family business?
Yeah. I had less than zero interest. I would be working in an office, wearing a suit every day, knowing what I’m doing when I’m 65.
What do you do away from work?
I’m a big fan of adventures, very outdoorsy. But I think my couch is the most comfortable place in the world.
Were people surprised when you said you were getting married in your mid-twenties?
Only people who haven’t met my wife. They’d always be like, “Why are you getting married? This is dumb as.” And then they’re like, “Oh, I get it. Sure, good job, tie that one down.”
Is any part of you the preppy boy you often get styled as?
No, and I blame The Social Network. That was a great movie and we were all so pleased with it, but my God, those guys [the Winklevoss twins] are following me around. It’s the craziest sh*t. We went to Australia recently and that’s their big question: “Ha ha, where’s your twin?” It’s like, “We’ve done this for three years now! Move on!”
So what is your style?
Mostly just blue jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops.
I don’t like white T-shirts. I think a white T-shirt is a loud statement: “Look at my shirt, it’s very white and I live such a safe, insulated life that nothing’s going to get it dirty.” I wear a white shirt now, later it’s filthy. Maybe I’m just a kid.
You’ve worked with Leonardo DiCaprio and now Johnny Depp. Did they give you tips?
I was definitely taking notes and watching them both, but never at any point did they say, “Come here, youngster, come sit on my knee and I’ll spin some yarn for ya.” This is a very cold-hearted business. I think people would rather just stab you in the back. Johnny’s very intimidated that I will end up stealing his jobs.
How does it feel to be the lead now?
More than anything I’m happy to have a job, to get to work with such talented people and have a product we’re so happy with. I try not to revel in my own success too much.
Everything was shot on location, no green screen. Was it tough?
It was miserably hot. Everything tasted like sand. You could hear yourself blink from the grit under your eyelids. It was hot, everybody was covered in sweat, everybody smelled like a cab driver.
Any moments where you thought: “I can’t do this”?
One day when it was two degrees away from the hottest ever recorded on Earth, I’ve got the wool suit on and I’m being dragged behind a horse through cacti and horsesh*t. Misery at its finest. The other one was when I was doing the tug of war. I had to fall and turn, but I always landed on my elbow.
Did you feel like a cowboy when you put on the hat?
I felt more like a cowboy before I put on the hat and the mask. I was like, “Is there a cowboy here who wants a hat and mask? I don’t think so. This thing feels fake.”
How was the wool suit?
That’s what those guys were wearing back then. A home-spun wool three-piece suit. It was 125 degrees! Johnny didn’t even have to wear a shirt. He’s like, “Hey, this is great.” The crew were in flip-flops and shorts.
Did you and Johnny hang out on set?
We were stuck in the middle of the desert for seven months. There wasn’t very much else to do except play guitar, tell stories and tell jokes. He’s a terrific guitar player, that guy. He’s really good. We played the blues together.
What’s the appeal of cowboys?
It’s a big part of heritage. It’s our version of Downton Abbey. That’s what you guys came from, and we came from these rough, tough, crazy sons of b*tches who seem to shoot each other more than anything else. I don’t think we need to continually revive existing heroes, but heroes are a big part of the human condition.
So you’re going to be a superhero soon?
No. No interest. I liked the idea of the Lone Ranger because he is a hero. Superheroes are just a little bit boring. You don’t have to eat, you don’t have to sleep, what’s your struggle? The Lone Ranger doesn’t kill and you see him struggle with it, you see him fight his own demons, which makes
it more interesting.
You’re working with Guy Ritchie on The Man From UNCLE next…
Yeah, he’s just a good dude – the kind of guy where it’s like, “Yeah I’d love to make a movie, but more importantly, can we go grab a beer together?’
The Lone Ranger is at cinemas nationwide from 9 August