Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer(s): John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Ward Byrkit
Genre: Animation, Family, Comedy, Adventure, Western
Filming: The film was shot/recorded like a live action film, and in chronological order. Isla made reference to having started working on this film while promoting Shopaholic in early 2009.
Box Office: Made $38,079,323 on its opening weekend in the US, landing at #1 in the box office charts. Made $245,375,374 total worldwide, with $123,477,607 of that coming from the US, and $11,277,681 from the UK. Did particularly well in Russia ($11,761,936 total there), France ($10,563,989 there) and Mexico ($10,466,177).
Runtime: 107 minutes
RANGO is an original animated comedy-adventure that takes moviegoers for a hilarious and heartfelt walk in the Wild West. The story follows the comical, transformative journey of Rango (Depp), a sheltered chameleon living as an ordinary family pet, while facing a major identity crisis. After all, how high can you aim when your whole purpose in life is to blend in? When Rango accidentally winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt – a lawless outpost populated by the desert’s most wily and whimsical creatures – the less-than-courageous lizard suddenly finds he stands out. Welcomed as the last hope the town has been waiting for, new Sheriff Rango is forced to play his new role to the hilt … until, in a blaze of action-packed situations and encounters with outrageous characters, Rango starts to become the hero he once only pretended to be.
Johnny Depp … as Rango
Abigail Breslin … as Priscilla
Ned Beatty … as Mayor
Alfred Molina … as Roadkill
Bill Nighy … as Rattlesnake Jake
Stephen Root … as Doc / Merrimack / Mr. Snuggles
Harry Dean Stanton … as Balthazar
Timothy Olyphant … as Spirit of the West
Ray Winstone … as Bad Bill)
Gore Verbinski … as Sergeant Turley / Crevice / Slim / Lupe – Mariachi Violin
Rango was released around the world in quick succession in March 2011, starting with Belgium and Slovenia on March 2nd. The UK and US got the film on March 4th, and Australia on March 10th. France got it later that month, on March 23rd. It was released in Japan several months later, in October 2011.
Isla plays Beans, a “really tough little lizard”, who owns a ranch in the deserted desert town of Dirt. Her daddy possibly died after falling down a mine shaft drunk, but, as Beans tells Rango, they never found the body. Having inherited the ranch, she now struggles to keep it going, and is coming under pressure from the mayor and the other bad guys to sell it. Beans is the first to meet Rango, stumbling upon him in the scorching hot desert. She gives him a ride into Dirt on her wagon, but is careful not to take him right into town, as she doesn’t want to be responsible for bringing an unknown creature into their world.
Beans is a tough, determined and independent lizard. However, she has one slight problem – when her emotions get intense, whether that be getting angry, or feeling love, she has a tendency to freeze, and go into a trance. She wakes up after a few minutes, and continues where she left off. Beans is keen to be involved with what Rango and the male townsfolk are up to, so she accompanies them on their adventure further into the desert to discover who stole the water. Whilst doing so, her feelings towards Rango seem to soften.
• While the voices for many animated movies are recorded in a sound studio, Rango was shot on a film stage, with the actors wearing costumes and reciting their lines together. Johnny Depp called this ‘emotion capture’.
• Isla said she “really enjoyed” this process of getting to make an animation movie but working with other actors to do it. She thought the method Verbinski used added “depth” to the performance, and called it “a very creative experience”. Isla also said it was a “really nice schedule”.
• Rango won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in February 2012. It beat fellow nominees A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots for the win.
• The film also won the Hollywood Animation Award at the 15th Annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards, in October 2011.
• Isla/Beans won the award for Best Animated Female at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
• Isla says that if she was a lizard, she’d want to look just like Beans!
• Gore Verbinski showed Isla 20 minutes of footage of the film, plus some linear drawings, and they worked on the voice of Beans together from that.
• Isla gave up the chance to kiss Johnny Depp in character, because she had a cold that day and didn’t want to give it to him!
• Isla described Johnny Depp as the “second sexiest man in the world after my husband”. Sacha is ok with that, as he and Johnny are friends, Isla adds!
Isla and director Gore Verbinski wanted Beans to sound like like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona, and Isla watched the movie many times.
Says Johnny Depp is so funny, he “could do stand-up.”
– Isla Fisher: “It was really great. I don’t normally do animated movies because it’s pretty sterile, you’re alone in a booth and you’re talking to yourself. But this time we were all on a stage and acted the movie out. Then while the scene was still fresh in our minds we would go into the sound booth and recapture the emotions in the dialogue. I found that hugely rewarding. And, of course, all my scenes with Johnny were amazing.”
– Isla Fisher: “We shot it chronologically. We shot this over 21 days. We came in and there was almost no homework to do as an actor because your emotional arc… you’re doing it in order. It’s not even that you need to remember how you were feeling in the scene before. We were experiencing it.”
– Isla Fisher: “That’s what’s so interesting about Gore Verbinski’s process. We’re shooting it like a play. So we’re all on stage, and we act it out, and he shoots it with cameras. Then he’s going to animate the characters to match our faces.”
– Isla Fisher: “I think you approach it the same and hope to infuse your voice with as much colour and physicality s you would on a live action movie. We shot this on a sound stage, so it was like doing a play, we had the chemistry from interacting with each other and we pretended to jump down a ditch, carried a fake gun. The advantages are you have more chemistry, things feel real and the voices sound more honest. The disadvantages are you feel a bit more exposed because you can’t hide behind hair and make-up and you’re playing something like a lizard and have to make it real, so I felt a bit self-conscious until I really got into it.”
– Isla Fisher: “What was so much fun about shooting Rango, was that we were all in a room together, and we were acting it like a play, so we had props and costumes, and there’s a lot of chemistry that goes with performing with each other, and hopefully that infused the voices and the animal humanity.”
– Isla Fisher: “You can’t replace comedy’s timing. The timing that you get from another performer acting in front of you; the chemistry; the humanity that you have in your own voice when you are looking at a real person versus a microphone. It’s irreplaceable, that kind of energy, I think. It is hugely beneficial I believe for all performances to be doing them; to be reacting opposite a person.”
– Isla Fisher: “It really adds such depth to the performance to actually see the other actor you’re interacting with and to experience it, rather than just be alone in a booth.”
– Isla Fisher: “I think the characters had humanity because we were interacting with each other, and more chemistry; and so it felt more organic and real.”
– Isla Fisher: “There was a big table with lots of props on it and we would show up, put on a hat, grab a gun and that was the start of our day.”
– Isla Fisher: “It’s so different from a traditional animated movie. I knew straight away I was desperate to do it. I don’t really want to work on something unless I love it because I know it means time away from my girls.”
– Isla Fisher: “It was just very silly – sometimes I’d be doing a scene, and I’d think ‘Johnny Depp is walking like a lizard, and there’s Bill Nighy, being a snake and slithering round me, and there is Abigail Breslin – a twelve year old girl with a shotgun – and it was sort of absurd, but I loved every minute.”
– Isla Fisher: “To see yourself as a lizard is a very surreal experience. And it was so nice because I was able to enjoy my own performance. Normally when you watch yourself on camera, I think at least when you’re magnified to that degree you just question why all the features in your face have been clustered together, there’s just so many things… it’s hard.”
– Isla Fisher: “When you’re sitting in a dark cinema and seeing my character experience that, it was as if I never had done the scene at all. I loved it.”
– Isla Fisher: “I was really excited to do Rango because I love director Gore Verbinski, who directed Pirates of the Caribbean, and I love Johnny Depp – who doesn’t?”
– Isla Fisher: “I never read the script, he just showed me some footage and images of the creatures, and I signed up on the spot. I was so flattered that he was interested in me for the role. I think it’s amazing what he’s done, he’s so imaginative and smart.”
– Isla Fisher: “I’m playing a lizard. I’m a hard lizard. It’s just a lot of fun. I get to tote a gun, and it’s just been a completely different experience from anything I have done before.”
– Isla Fisher: “I kind of imagine Beans, if Clint Eastwood and Holly Hunter would have a love child, that would be Beans.”
– Isla Fisher: “Gore already had the idea of the voice and then I joined. He wanted her to sound like Holly Hunter and a little bit like Clint Eastwood so I actually watched ‘Raising Arizona’ a bunch of times and just kept practicing until the pitch was nice and low and I watched, of course, a bunch of old Westerns. I didn’t really know the genre – growing up in Australia it wasn’t a big deal. So for me it was really exciting to see those amazing old movies.”
– Isla Fisher: “Believe it or not, the day I was supposed to do the kissing scene I had a cold, and I didn’t want to infect Johnny. So I said, ‘I can’t do this,’ and I was obviously pretty bummed about that. But I can say I got to do a movie with him. Hey, when I was growing up, I had a poster of him in ’21 Jump Street’ on my wall.”
– Isla Fisher: “I think what I was most surprised about with Johnny Depp is just how funny he is. I thought he was going to be a little more serious because he’s done quite a few dark movies but he has a great sense of humour. He’s very warm and I think he acknowledges the fact that people are a little bit freaked out to be acting opposite somebody of his status and so he puts you at ease and he’s a very nice man and I had a really great time.”
– Isla Fisher: “Unfortunately Johnny had to look at me everyday for four weeks, fortunately for me I got to look at him and it was great fun.”
– Isla Fisher: “I made it very clear to Sacha that I was working with the ‘second’ most beautiful man in the world. And Johnny’s a mensch. He’s the least Hollywood person I’ve ever met.”
– Isla Fisher: “Oh yeah, yeah [the kids will see this]. They’re ready for it, they’re very sophisticated, light-years ahead of where they should be.” (talking – jokingly – about whether her kids would see this film or not.)
– Isla Fisher: “I love the scene when Rango walks into the saloon for the first time and starts telling all these wonderful tall-tales. It’s so well written, it’s so funny. It’s perfect beginning, middle and end. It’s perfect.”
– Gore Verbinski: “I would say when Rango and Beans (Isla Fisher) are together, when she freezes for the first time, and he’s got her arm around her, and he’s doing, “What are you doing?” “I was not,” that sort of thing. If you had one person in the room and then a few months later another person in the room, and you were cutting the different audio together you would never get that sort of awkwardness.” (on an example of a scene that benefitted from this ‘emotion capture’ method of filming.)
– Gore Verbinski: “The accents are only a part of it, I mean she brought her own neurotic sense of humour, which is kind of more important.”
– Abigail Breslin: “Isla Fisher, she was like, ‘I don’t like this, this is scaring me!’ It was pretty funny.” (on using live firearms when filming the movie.)
– Hal Hickel (animation director): “He’d (Verbinski) show us a hand gesture or an awkward little smile, and then the animators would take it from there. I remember one time when Isla Fisher said something and then rolled her eyes, and Gore said, ‘Look, guys, you’re never gonna beat that eye roll. Just do that’.”
– Beans: “What are you involved in?”
– Rango: “Oh, well I’m glad you asked! I’ve got two one-acts, a mystery, and a musical I’ve been gestating – I’ve got the words, I’m just kinda working on the melody right now…”
[Rango starts dancing and singing]
– Beans: “You ain’t from round here, are you?”
[Talking about giant cactus trees]
– Rango: “Ever feel like those things are lookin’ at you?”
– Beans: “That’s a spanish dagger, but around here we just call them the walking cactus.”
– Rango: “Walking?!”
– Beans: “There’s an old legend they actually walk across the desert to find water. When I was a little girl I’d stay up watching them to see if they’d move. I thought if I could follow them they’d lead me to some place wonderful, some place where there is enough water for everyone. Night after night I watched them … I never saw them move.”
– Rango: “But you’re still watching them…”
– Beans: “Who doesn’t want to find some place wonderful?”
– Rango: “So, what’s your name?”
– Beans: “Beans.”
– Rango: “That’s a funny kinda name.”
– Beans: “What can I say? My daddy loved plum loved baked beans.”
– Rango: “Well you’re lucky he didn’t plum love asparagus!”
– Beans: “What, what are you sayin’?”
– Rango: “I-I-I mean I enjoy a hearty puttanesca myself, but I’m not sure a child would appreciate the moniker.”
– Beans: “My daddy was a great man, even if he did exhibit a proclivity for legumes!”
[Rango tucks into a glass of ashes]
– Rango: “Hmm, spicy!”
– Beans: “You, eating his ashes!”
– Rango: “Eurgh, eurgh! You carry his remains?!”
– Beans: “No! His ashes – he loved to smoke. They never found the body.”
– Rango: “Oh, well, I’m sure he had his reasons.”
[Beans is refusing to sign a deed]
– Rattlesnake Jake: “Sign the damn paper, woman!”
– Beans: “Go to Hell!
– Rattlesnake Jake: [wraps Beans up in a coil and hangs her upside down] “Where do you think I come from?”
– Beans: “Get your slimy, webbed phalanges off ma boots!”
[Coming out of her special trance by her wagon]
– Beans: “And until the people of Andromeda 5 return him safe and sound, I will not sell my ranch!”
[Coming out of her special trance in the clothing shop]
– Beans: “It is not a rash, it is a birthmark!”
• Roger Ebert: “Rango is some kind of a miracle: An animated comedy for smart moviegoers, wonderfully made, great to look at, wickedly satirical, and (gasp!) filmed in glorious 2-D. Its brilliant colors and startling characters spring from the screen and remind us how very, very tired we are of simpleminded little characters bouncing around dimly in 3-D.”
• Time: “The cast, led by the crack-voiced Depp and the Dolly Parton–channeling Fisher, is flat-out flawless. But that’s not surprising; they’re all gifted veterans. Rango, though, is the first animated feature from director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) and the special-effects wizards at ILM. Somehow these novices figured out how to turn pixels into natural western landscapes; this looks like the most gorgeous live action movie.”
• LA Times: “The vibrancy of the acting no doubt finds its source in Verbinski’s decision to put the “voices” in costumes and on sets to act out all the scenes together rather than working in the isolation of sound booths. The result creates a spark and a connection among characters that can often go missing in animation and a level of improvisation that seemed impossible for the genre.”
• Peter Travers: “What’s up with this movie? It looks great, thanks to Industrial Light & Magic. And Verbinski’s idea to have the voice cast, including Isla Fisher as Rango’s lizard love and Abigail Breslin as a cactus mouse, interact with one another in costumes (instead of in isolated sound booths), results in a lively, lived-in ambience. Rango is like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
• USA Today: “Rango, like the character, has no lack of enthusiasm and inventive style. Its strong suit is visual panache. It’s too bad that consistent comedy and emotional resonance get lost amid the dust and cacti.”
• UrbanCinefile.com.au: “The townsfolk are a muddled bunch of all animal persuasions and I love the eccentricity of the film’s heroine with ringlets voiced by Isla Fisher (with the unlikely name of Beans), who gets more than she anticipates during her surprise underwater kiss with Rango.”
• EmptyScreens.com: “The voice cast, top-lined by an on-form Johnny Depp, each deliver inspired and witty performances. Isla Fisher, in particular, must be commended for her beguiling Western accent, much better than the Scottish accent attempted in last year’s disappointing Burke & Hare.”
• Empire: “Let’s face it, a spaghetti Western with reptiles was never going to be as comfortable a watch as, say, a kung-fu movie with a panda. A certain percentage of the audience will instantly sieze on this as their favourite movie of all time, and a small, but not insignificant demographic will have nightmares. Verbinski and Depp probably like it that way.”
• Hollywood Reporter: “But most exceptional is the visual style, which makes even the best animated 3D look like a poor cousin. More than in any other animated work that comes to mind, meticulous attention has been paid to light and shadow, to gradations of color, to details of faces, costumes and props and to the framing of shots.”
Despite the fact that we do not actually ‘see’ Isla in this movie as she just provides her voice, this is a great movie for her. The movie itself is so smart, unique and funny, with an original storyline and a very original animation method. Isla herself infuses her character of Beans with a sass that is typical of her, bringing her to life in a brilliant way and delivering her lines with a touch of wryness. The fact that this movie is an animation should not put adults off it – it is, in fact, probably more suited to them rather than children, and the jokes and storyline seems to be more directed at the older audience. It was one of my favourite films of 2011, and I’d definitely recommend it.
For the first time since 2009, Isla did a big promotional tour for this movie! She attended premieres/photocalls in Los Angeles, London and Berlin, and appeared on several talk shows, including Regis & Kelly, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Chelsea Lately, The Early Show and Rachael Ray. She was accompanied to the Berlin premiere by her father Brian, who lives and works in the city. Isla sported a number of glamourous looks during the promotion, and it was certainly nice to see her out promoting a movie again!
• Isla Fisher Web‘s Press page (related: 2011 interviews)
• Isla Fisher Web‘s 2011 Appearances Gallery
• Isla Fisher Web‘s 2011 Magazine Scans Gallery
• Isla Fisher Web‘s 2011 video interviews
• Isla Fisher Web‘s 2011 talk show video interviews
• News & Updates for Rango at Isla Fisher Web
• Amazon.co.uk – purchase the DVD
• Amazon.co.uk – purchase the Triple Play (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital) edition
• Amazon.com – purchase the DVD
• Amazon.com – purchase the Triple Play (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital) edition
• Ezydvd.com.au – purchase the DVD
• Ezydvd.com.au – purchase the Blu-ray