Silver shines again in 'The Lone Ranger'
05:00 AM, Jul 04, 2013
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Even in the animal world, Hollywood stardom is all about timing. Take the 10-year-old Thoroughbred quarter horse called Silver who happened to be born with a pure white coat.
The horse was a natural for animal scouts looking for the right horse to play the famous steed called Silver in the The Lone Ranger reboot.You might say he was born for the part.
“It’s all right place and right time,” says head animal trainer Bobby Lovgren. “But the biggest thing about Silver is he is such a good, quiet horse with a such a great attitude. He has real personality.”
That personality is very much on display in The Lone Ranger, which opened July 3, with the horse as the ultimate “scene stealer” in the words of director Gore Verbinski.
While there were up to five extra horses brought in for stunts or to stand in, it was Silver doing 60 percent of the horse work in the film. In one memorable scene, the horse even improvised with Johnny Depp’s Tonto, who was trying to move the creature in one direction, while Silver playfully kept heading in the other.
“The scene was really amazing. It’s the interaction they had and how Johnny and the horse communicated,” says Lovgren. ” They had chemistry together.”
Armie Hammer, who plays the Lone Ranger, was impressed.
“Silver was certainly the most professional actor on the set,” says Hammer. “And he hit his mark every time.”
“It’s a remarkable horse in the hands of one of the most remarkable horse trainers I have ever seen,” he adds. “Bobby can train a horse to walk up to a six pack of beer and drink it. What do you say to a horse to start that process?”
The South African-born Lovgren, who worked on Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Seabiscuit, says it takes considerable patience preparing for each horse moment. He started training three months before filming.
The hardest parts are the slower scenes, like picking up a bottle or a hat. The showy stuff, such as Silver’s famous rear-back are “impressive, but not difficult.”
Silver did have his demands, being fed a special grain diet for energy on the 150-day shoot and requiring copious sunscreen application in the desert sun. “The pink skin around the nose and eyes is high maintenance and requires a lot of sunscreen,” says Lovgren.
But the filmmakers were floored by the final product. And Hollywood beckons for Silver, despite the danger in being typecast in the role.
“White horses do get used quite a bit in films, though not as much as the other types,” says Lovgren. “But as long as we get other opportunities to play Silver, I’m fine with it. Let’s hope there’s a sequel.”