Verbinski's hard at work putting together the project, with the studio aiming to release the family-friendly Rango on March 4, 2011. But despite being super busy, Verbinski took some time off on June 28th to show off character sketches, the trailer, and a behind the scenes featurette which showed the actors voicing their characters while acting out the scenes. Verbinski also answered questions about the film, a project far different than anything he's done before.
Gore Verbinski Rango Q&A
On the Character Rango:
"He kind of fancies himself a hero and he's thrust into a crazy set of circumstances where he becomes one and he has to ultimately come to terms with the difference between pretending and what's real. People start believing in him. Our world is sort of Western. He's a contemporary character thrust into kind of a backwards Western genre, if you will."
Who is Rango Really?
"He's like a thespian in search of an audience. He's in his terrarium and he's made friends with the inanimate objects in his terrarium. He calls them all by name and actually when we meet him, he's in the process of putting on a play with various objects in his terrarium. Things get out of hand and the production goes down, literally. He's enlightened by his need for conflict, basically, and our story begins. We also have this Mexican Greek chorus of mariachis. They intro the tale and they follow him around singing of his whole demise. They break the fourth wall from time to time and keep us apprised as to the emotional state."
On His Voice Cast:
"We have a great cast. We have Abigail Breslin who plays Priscilla, Alfred Molina who plays Road Kill, this armadillo who's run over. It's part of the origin of Rango's demise, when his terrarium is thrust from his car and he ends up in the desert. Isla Fischer plays Beans. We have Bill Nighy who plays Rattlesnake Jake. Ned Beatty is the mayor. Harry Dean Stanton as Pappy."
Verbinski said Rango starts out in the present day but winds up in the West in the 1800s. "It's kind of a crazy mixed bag, contemporary and sort of throwback. He's the fish out of water."
On Designing the Characters of Rango:
"It really started with this concept of first just creating a sort of Western genre based on creatures of the desert. From there, I sat down with four of my favorite illustrators and just said, 'Let's conjure. Let's go.' That's the only rule. So snakes and tortoises and lizards and everything, so out of that we started to build iconography and first just very simple silhouettes and shapes. At the same time, we were working on the screenplay with John Logan and both things influenced each other. It was very much an open format process building a the narrative where art and scenes, Jim and I did all the voices, scratch voices and cut the whole thing on a Macintosh as an animatic. So it was just a bunch of these pencil sketches."
"After finishing a run of two Pirate movies, but even from The Ring to Pirates to Weather Man to two more Pirates movies, it was really an opportunity to take a pause and to sit back and go, 'Okay, let's get small,' basically. This is a project that I've been banging around since 2005, working with a children's book author named David Shannon and the producer John Carlos who produced Where the Wild Things Are. We've been sort of feeling out the idea of the project for a while. That was basically all we had. Rango came working with Jim, identity crisis, outsider coming into this world and we just sort of built it from scratch. Our intention was to create something that we liked. We hope there's enough people out there that like it too."
On Western Influences:
"We definitely have the classic John Ford, but there's a lot of spaghetti in there too, which I think has a little more irreverence. It's not as wholesome, if you will. It's kind of more of a postmodern Western. Wild Bunch I'm a fan of, the tail end of the genre more so than the kind of origins because it gets a little hokey when you go back to the 'bum ba dee da bum ba dee da.' So definitely Peckinpah and Leone."
On Johnny Depp's Involvement:
"We brought it up to Johnny during Pirates 2 because that's when we had the basic outline. We always just felt like he's very lizard-like, referred to quite a lot of his lizard run, lizard on ice, some of his physicalities are very lizard like, so he was really into it. A year and a half later we showed him a story reel and he loved it."
On Tackling an Animated Film:
"I never had a career plan so it's really kind of much more of a shoot from the hip, if there's an interesting story and you want to tell it, you figure out a way to tell it. [...]I've been blessed and lucky, but I didn't really set out to do an animated movie. I think it scares me. It's something I don't know how to do so I tend to be drawn to that, I guess. Ultimately, it just was a story. It seemed right. it was the right time. A lot of those techniques are the techniques we use in live action: storyboarding, letting visuals influence script, developing narrative based on visual as much as based on literary references. I can't say that it was part of a global plan."
On the Target Audience:
"I think if you're nine years old, you hit somebody on the head with a frying pan - it's funny. If you're 60-years-old, then you'll get a little bit of Jean Paul Sartre reference in there. It's just about keeping those things hopscotching so it plays for both worlds."
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Check out the Rango trailer for a first look at the March 2011 Paramount Pictures release:Play the Trailer
For more on Rango, visit the official Rango site.