December 6, 2016

Johnny Depp & Armi Hammer Do NOT Know Jo, Do You?

By Jo Mixon

But Johnny knows Dana!

And Armi knows Carolyn!

The last few weeks have been full of chatter and excitement as the Walt Disney production of “The Lone Ranger” moved into the Moreno Valley. With it came over 200 cast and crew members. They stayed in hotel rooms, homes, and condos all over Angel Fire and Eagle Nest, providing a welcome boost to the local economy. And although they were all fed breakfast and lunch on the set, they spent their money in area restaurants, retail stores, bars, grocery stores, and gas stations. I was told that the store in Ute Park sold more knives in two weeks than they had sold in a year!

Area residents were in a constant state of “celebrity sightings.” Although I thought it would really boost Johnny Depp’s ratings to do an “I Know Jo” with me, obviously his publicist didn’t understand! Still, it was so much fun to have something out of the ordinary to anticipate, to laugh and talk about. Almost daily we heard people say things like, “I saw Johnny Depp at the Mini Mart;” “I saw Armi Hammer having lunch at Zebs;” “I saw Jerry Bruckheimer having dinner at The Roasted Clove.” One day a woman showed us a photo on her cell phone of herself and Johnny Depp, cheek to cheek. She said had seen him in the Walgreen in Taos. With great curiosity, we watched the steady stream of jets flying in and out of the Angel Fire airport, wondering each time who might be on them. There was a daily parade of semi trucks, white vans, and large black vehicles driving to the sites where they filmed in the Cimarron Canyon, the canyon behind the Angel Fire Resort Stables, and a tree up Halo Pines Road.

As much fun as I had giggling about the “star factor,” for me personally, it was a family affair. That’s really the reason I was so giddy. My nephew Justin Geoffroy is Video Assistant for the Jerry Bruckheimer film. He has worked on many movies filmed in New Mexico for years, but this is the first time he has filmed at home, in Angel Fire. He was able to bring his wife Christina and three-month-old son Henry to stay with his parents D.J. and Edd for the two-week time period. (I am his favorite Aunt, you know!) But I was mostly excited that my son Marcus was hired to be an extra on the film set, which meant he would fly here from California and spend two weeks at home with me! Since Marcus doesn’t really aspire to work full time in the movies, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his cousin to work together on a film.

Marcus spent a couple of weeks experiencing first-hand the long hours and attention to detail each split second scene in a movie of this caliber entails. On set, he met Johnny Depp (playing Tonto), Armi Hammer (playing the Lone Ranger), and Barry Pepper (playing one of the bad guys in the film). Marcus was a stand-in for Pepper. Marcus, along with other locals Brinn Colenda, Britt Vanderlei, Canion Cavazos, Tim Wilson, Jennifer Anderson, and Delhia, ( I’m not sure of her last name, but she works at the Roasted Clove!) were daily directed by Gore Verbinski. Marcus told me Verbinski made each of them feel like they were an important part of the filming, even though they are not really actors. And maybe (if the scenes don’t end up on the editing floor) we’ll get to see them in the movie when it hits theatres in July of 2013! Could it get any more exciting?

As many as fifty other locals were also hired as production assistants who worked as road crew, stopping traffic, keeping people away, and essentially locking down the set while the movie was being filmed. It might be strange to see a scene in the movie where at the back, in the trees, is a tourist with a Hawaiian shirt, hiking boots, camera draped around his neck, waving! Cut!!

Although I personally did not get to meet the actors, my brother-in-law Edd Geoffroy, who owns Angel Fire Homes Real Estate, Construction, and Property Management, was called to find suitable lodging for Depp, Hammer, and a several other cast members. (Lucky for him his son is Video Assistant!) The photo above with Dana Cavazos and Johnny Depp was one of the perks she and Dr. Avery Rush received for renting their vacation home in the Valley of the Utes to Depp and his security entourage. The second photo is Carolyn Macias, co-owner of Zebs Restaurant and Grill, with Armi Hammer. He would have lunch at Zebs on his days off.

We want to say thank-you to the New Mexico Film Industry and Walt Disney Productions! What a privilege that Angel Fire and the Cimarron Canyon were chosen to be an on-site location for the filming of “The Lone Ranger.” We’ll anxiously await the film’s opening next summer. It will be a treat to all go together and pack the theatre!
See you at the movies! Hi Ho Silver, Away!

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