One of the more infamous Hollywood stories this year was the inglorious demise of “The Lone Ranger,” Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer‘s $200 million+ western that failed to connect with audiences and was outright scalped by critics (sorry, we couldn’t resist). While chatting with “The Lone Ranger” costar Helena Bonham Carter at this year’s Hamptons International Film Festival for her new biopic “Burton & Taylor,” we couldn’t help but bring up the response to the film and what she thought it’s chances were of a life beyond this initial reception. Carter responded by comparing the film to another of her movies that was judged harshly upon release but blossomed lovingly into a bona-fide cult classic years later, David Fincher‘s “Fight Club.”
When I brought up how much we enjoyed “The Lone Ranger”—because, truthfully, this writer found it a weird and wild western whose oddness struck a chord—she said that we were probably amongst a few who actually liked it. When I told her that Quentin Tarantino also loved it (placing it on his top ten list and defending it to press), she sighed and said, “Oh, I love Quentin,” the back of her hair dangling in a loose connection of cabled dreadlocks.
Bonham Carter was part of the original cast, on board even before Disney shut down the project and reshuffled some aspects of it (a move that proved fruitless when production troubles and an elaborate train sequence shot the budget up towards the number Disney originally balked at). In the movie, she plays the owner of an Old West bordello whose leg was, prior to the movie’s opening, amputated and eaten by a villainous character played by William Fichtner (and people wonder why it didn’t connect).
She only had positive things to say about the movie’s actual production. “I loved it and I loved Gore. It was one of the happiest times. They worked so hard on that thing.” Of course, the actress was upset at the drubbing the film received upon its release. “I feel so appalled and sad that it was greeted with such positively negative reviews; it was actively negative reviews,” she said. Bonham Carter noted that, at the very least, it connected with its intended audience: “I was working so I couldn’t go promote it but I took my son later and he loved it.”
Not that she is still stewing about it. In fact, she had experienced this kind of thing earlier in her career. “I’ve been in this situation before. With ‘Fight Club,’ everyone hated it. My mom actually said, ‘Don’t you worry, this is going to be around a lot longer.’ And that was right after Columbine and it was just a bad time,” she explained.
And in general, the reception of “The Lone Ranger” has left the actress quite baffled. “With ‘Lone Ranger,’ I’m not sure why it attracted such ire. There are some great things in that movie and it’s fun. I think Johnny [Depp] gets taken for granted.”
Still, she is optimistic about the movie’s chances of gaining cult-classic status (much like “Fight Club”). “I hope it’s going to be reappraised. Tim [Burton—her longtime partner] always talks about how a movie gets bad reviews and then we see it on the telly and the little description is a good review. It’s like when did you reappraise this thing? It only came out six months ago and you shat on it.”
We’ll wait to see what the little description of “The Lone Ranger” is when it premieres on Starz next year (it’s on DVD and Blu-ray in December).