Born November 13, 1971
Nathaniel Arcand was Tonto on WB's "Lone Ranger"
by Joe Southern, The Silver Bullet
Note:Whether you liked it or not, "The Lone Ranger" on the WB network did bring us a new Lone Ranger and a new Tonto. Nathaniel Arcand, who played Tonto, has been very gracious to us with interviews and information. Below is a story that appeared in The Silver Bullet before the show was aired.
Although The WB has not opted to make a new Lone Ranger television series, it has filmed a two-hour pilot that will air sometime this season as a movie of the week. The co-star of the movie, Nathaniel Arcand, who plays Tonto, recently spoke with the Silver Bullet about the movie project.
“I watched the Lone Ranger when I was a kid,” he said. “I … always wanted to be the Lone Ranger or Tonto, it didn’t matter to me which one.”
In January, Arcand got his wish. He was called down to Los Angeles from his home in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He went to the Warner Brothers studio, where he met with writers, producers and network executives. He read for the part and was sent back to his hotel room.
“ They said they would get back to me within a day … But an hour later I got a call from Jonathan Penner, one of the writers, who said, ‘We want you to be our Tonto,’” he said.
Arcand was thrilled. He called his wife, Shar, right away to share the good news. “It’s pretty cool. They had some other choices but I was the first choice they wanted,” he said.
Arcand returned home and went straight to work.
“From that moment on I was studying the Lone Ranger and Tonto. I learned a lot,” he said.
He said he was surprised to learn that the part of Tonto on the radio was played by, “a short little white guy,” (John Todd).
Not only was the 30-year-old Cree Indian from the Alexander First Nation Reserve busy coming up to speed on his Lone Ranger lore, but he was also sharpening his skills with a knife and tomahawk, as well as his horse riding ability.
Three months later Arcand was back in California, this time to don the buckskins as the youngest Tonto in history. Though he is 30, he played the part of Tonto in his early 20s. The WB filmed the show along the lines of Superman in “Smallville,” making the characters young men. The Lone Ranger, played by Chad Michael Murray, is supposed to be 19. Shooting started on April 29 and wrapped up on May 30.
“It was a good time,” Arcand said. “I felt we kept true to the original story.” Actually, there are many variations from the original story. The Lone Ranger is no longer John Reid, but Luke Hartman. He was not riding with a group of Texas Rangers, but was rather a witness to the murder of his brother. The man who killed his brother is not Butch Cavendish, but Kansas City Haas.
In the show, Haas does shoot-up the young Luke Hartman and Tonto comes to his rescue. A lot of the movie is spent in Tonto’s village, where Tonto nurses the young white man back to health, against the wishes of his people.
“Tonto gets a sister (Alope) who becomes the love interest of the Lone Ranger/Luke,” Arcand said.
There is a problem, however.
“Alope is sworn to somebody else,” he said.
Arcand said he enjoyed the fact that the story went into Tonto’s history so much.
“They delved a little into Tonto’s life. He had a family all of a sudden,” he said.
The period of recovery is a time of growth, for both the Ranger and the young actor who plays him.
“His skill is developing and he’s becoming a man himself and it shows in the show itself,” he said.
He said that Luke Hartman begins “as a whiney kid.” But by the end of the show, he has taken bold steps toward manhood.
One thing that is consistent in the history of the Lone Ranger is the character’s change in appearance. This time out brings with it the most radical change yet.
“He wears a blue outfit, but it’s a dark blue,” Arcand said.
Not only that, but the mask is different – it’s brown.
“He doesn’t wear the mask until the end of the show almost,” he said.
Arcand said the show is done in a “contemporary style.” He said his Tonto does not speak in broken English like that of John Todd or Jay Silverheels, but is more in line with the portrayal by Michael Horse in “The Legend of the Lone Ranger.”
Another difference in the new adaptation of the legend is in the use of the words “Kemo Sabe.”
“This time it’s the Lone Ranger calling Tonto Kemo Sabe,” Arcand said.
He said the Lone Ranger has to earn the privilege of calling Tonto by the name. It’s a matter of helping develop the aspects of honor, trust and integrity in the Lone Ranger character.
Arcand said one of the things the producers did to help make the show more “old- fashioned” and authentic was to hire real cowboys and Indians to play certain parts. “The people who worked on it … were old cowboys themselves,” he said.
He said he hopes the show will have an appeal across generational lines.
“I think for everybody it will appeal to Baby Boomers but also to the younger generation because of the old-fashioned style,” he said.
Even though the show takes several liberties with the Lone Ranger legend, Arcand said he feels most people will be pleased with the final product.
“All-in-all, I think everybody will be happy,” he said.
If they like it enough, Arcand said they should contact The WB or their local affiliate and let them know. If there is enough viewer support for the pilot, The WB still has an option to make it into a regular TV series.
As for Arcand, he is continuing to stay busy with other projects. According to his Web site, he is currently working on two new projects: An upcoming episode of the CBC series DaVinci's Inquest and a new movie entitled Wildfire Seven.
When he isn’t acting, Arcand is interested in hockey, boxing, kickboxing, and swimming. He is the father of four, Trisha, Jaden, Amber and Griffin.
His first acting experience came in junior high. He drifted a bit in high school, but returned to performing arts while attending a photo shoot with his friend, Dakota House. House’s agent picked him up as a client for modeling and small acting jobs. His first job as an actor was on a Petro Canada training video. Parts in commercials soon followed, along with a small part in the movie Savage Land.
Arcand’s big break in acting was landing the role of William MacNeil in the Canadian television series North of 60. He won an Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association Award in 1996 and was nominated for a Gemini Award for his work in the episode “Traces and Tracks.”
Arcand auditioned for director Sir Richard Attenborough and won a supporting role opposite Pierce Brosnan in the film Grey Owl.
For more information and photos of Arcand, visit Nathaniel Arcand Official Fansite