Who will Johnny Depp call Kemo Sabe?

Sept. 25, 2008 | 7:11 p.m.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp will play Tonto in a Disney revisitation of the Lone Ranger, but who will be the masked man?

The Hero Complex is officially supporting Viggo Mortensen for the role of mystery man of the Old West because, after seeing “Hidalgo” and the trailer for “Appaloosa,” we just think he does the dusty-trail adventure thing with a nice flair.

George Clooney would also give Disney a powerhouse tandem at the top of this hoped-for franchise, as well as some major opportunity for the type of winking humor that gave “Pirates of the Caribbean” its box-office flair. Clooney may be too old, but we still think he has enough silver bullets in his ammo belt. Depp, meanwhile, may be just five years shy of 50 but still approaches his acting career like a kid rummaging through a trunk of dress-up costumes. Not only will the part-Cherokee Depp be wearing the fringed buckskin, he will also be donning the garb of a pirate, a vampire, a gangster and, um, a guy with a funny hat.

The Oscar nominee has a busy schedule, to say the least. On Wednesday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Disney gathered the press for a preview of its Lone_2 upcoming major releases and announced that Depp will be back in eyeliner as Jack Sparrow, the rummy scoundrel of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” which will have a fourth installment with Jerry Bruckheimer back as producer. The franchise has already pulled in $2.6 billion at the box office. (Bruckheimer will also produce the Lone Ranger movie.)

Other Depp projects coming include a turn as the Mad Hatter in a Tim Burton adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be a 2010 animated release with a motion-capture approach in the same vein as “Beowulf.” It will be Depp’s seventh major project with Burton — and No. 8 will be “Dark Shadows,” yet another black-cape affair for the movie-making partnership, this one a remake of the baroque soap opera from the late 1960s and early 1970s about an accursed family in Maine that, we suspect, had a lasting effect on a local youngster named Stephen King.

Depp will also be robbing banks as the gentlemen bandit John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s period gangster flick “Public Enemies,” due in theaters next year. That film also stars Christian Bale.

– Geoff Boucher

Johnny Depp photo from December 2007 by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times

Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto, from the Los Angeles Times archives.

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