Johnny Depp apparently came thisclose to getting "horrifically mangled" while shooting The Lone Ranger.
"There was one moment in particular where it got unpleasant," the actor said Thursday on the Late Show With David Letterman, recounting a near-miss horse-riding accident on the set of Disney's upcoming reboot of the classic Western story, in which he plays Tonto.
"We'd been running them all day and they weren't really interested in slowing down, at all," Depp, awash in scarves and sporting his trademark brimmed hat, recalled. "My horse that I was on decided to jump a couple of these little obstacles. The horse was unaware that the saddle I was wearing to sit on top of it was sort of jerry-rigged, kind of faked."
"When we came down, the saddle slipped and I went to the left and had the reins here, and somehow had the wherewithal to grab his mane—all very calm for some reason, I figured fear would kick in, but it didn't," Depp continued.
"I saw in front of my eyes these very muscular horse legs and the striations of muscles moving, this kind of death machine. One word popped into my head: hooves. You know? Hooves. In any case, mind the hooves."
"Well, you make a decision," he said. "Will I go with the beast until someone wrangles it, or will I drop? It's a crapshoot."
And Depp dropped and "hit the deck pretty hard," landing on his back.
"The one thing that saved me was the horse's instinct to lift his front legs and go over me," he marveled. "If not, it was coming straight down into the head."
"Where are the stunt people, for heaven's sake?" marveled Letterman. "You're Tonto, you don't need that!"
"That's the exact same question I asked," replied Depp.
Toward the end of the show, Depp was joined by Americana singer-songwriter Bill Carter, whom he met while shooting What's Eating Gilbert Grape in Austin in the early 1990s and for a time played with him in a band called, simply, P.
Asked what that represented, the actor replied, "The letter in the alphabet."
Depp then showed off what he refers to as his "not particularly good" guitar skills, backing Carter on the song "Anything Made of Paper," which Carter and his wife, Ruth, wrote for Damien Echols of West Memphis Three fame. Depp has long been a champion of Echols, who spent more than 18 years on death row after being wrongfully convicted, along with two of his friends, of the murders of three young boys in Arkansas. The trio were freed in 2011.