Armie Hammer was the breakout star of The Social Network, although he might have had an unfair advantage since he played two characters. His memorable work as the Winklevoss twins bumped him into the covetable tier of young actors who can go for the juicy parts. He got to play J. Edgar’s closeted lover Clyde Tolson and now he’s playing the title role in The Lone Ranger. (Johnny Depp is his “sidekick” Tonto.)
This week he stars as Prince Charming in Mirror Mirror, a new take on the Snow White story. This prince is kind of a goofball, and when he falls under the evil queen (Julia Roberts)’ spell, he gets even sillier. He gets turned into a dog and actually licks her face. Before he returned to the Ranger set, Hammer met with a small, select group of press and shared his down to earth approach to Hollywood.
Q: When you read the script and saw that you literally had to lick Julia Roberts’ face, what did you think?
AH: I don't remember if licking her face was actually in the script or something that we just kind of came up with on the day, but either way that was the first day of work and my first day of working with her. So, I was like, “Yeah. Nice to meet you. Are you ready? Okay.” That was basically it.
Q: So it’s a good ice breaker?
AH: Yeah, a good ice shatterer.
Q: Did she give you a hard time or make it easy on you?
AH: I remember the first time that I licked her she threw her heard back and did that iconic Julia Roberts laugh and I remember just being, like, “Wow. Okay.”
Q: Did you find her intimidating?
AH: I think if you're intimidated by her it's because you look at her and you think of everything she's done, all the movies, all the accolades, all the this and that, everything she's earned which is great. She has earned them all, most definitely, but when you work with her she's just professional. She's sweet. She's on it. She never didn't know her lines. She always knew exactly how she wanted to stand and how she wanted to do this. She was specific about everything. It was like watching a professional who's been doing something for a long time, but actively perfected what they were doing. She's smart. They'll put a lens on and she'll go, “What size lens is that? Oh, okay, so I have to hold this up here instead of down there. Okay, got it.” You're like, “Wow, she really just knows everything about this.” It's like she's just paid attention since she's been doing this.
Q: What surprised you about her as a person when you got to have some hangout time with her?
AH: How sweet she was. She brought her kids around and it was great. It was like she knows how to be a movie star and she also knows how to be mom. She's great.
Q: You mentioned that she knows how to be a movie star, but do you?
AH: I don't know, no. To the Julia Roberts level, not even close. She knows what she's doing. She's a pro. I would hope to one day know the business and know the craft as well as she does.
Q: What has this last year and a half been like for you going to the next level in your career?
AH: Well, fortunately I've been so terrified by the work that I've had to do, like in terms of not messing up when I'm standing next to Johnny Depp or not forgetting this or doing a good job on this line. I've been so distracted by that that I haven't been able to get caught up in all of that. So, fortunately I've just been motivated I guess by, like, the fear of failure, to not be distracted and just focus on the work.
Q: You seem to have a healthy attitude towards Hollywood. Is it like this business is a fairy tale and it's not real?
AH: I was having a conversation with someone on set about this where it's like if you're an actor on set someone will come up to you at some point during the day, it's a given, and go, “Can I get you anything?” And they're not coming up to you to say, “You're so special. You're so awesome. What can I, a humble servant, do for you?” What they're saying is, “Look, as soon as they're ready to shoot this scene if they have to wait five minutes because you ran off to crafty to get a sandwich that's going to cost them $35,000 for just not shooting when they could be shooting.” There's a number for how much it costs per second and it's really high. So, you get these people on set who go, “Can I get you something” because you can't leave this spot. So, someone will bring you a water or something like that. It's easy to lose track of the fact that they do that because they need to keep track of you, not because you're special. And then all of a sudden these people get off the set and they realize, “Everybody should ask me if I want something? I want a Perrier. Not a Pellegrino,” or whatever it is. It's easy to see how these monsters are kind of created. So, I try to just step back from all that and just keep it as a whole, a whole thing.