Home News The Ultimate Guide to Rango: Characters, Plot, and Trivia

The Ultimate Guide to Rango: Characters, Plot, and Trivia


In this article, Rango is an animated Western comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp as Rango, an eccentric pet chameleon who becomes sheriff of an unnamed desert town named Dirt. Produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Blind Wink Productions, GK Films and distributed by Paramount Pictures, Rango won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature — making it the first non-Disney or Pixar animated feature film since Happy Feet won this honor in 2006.

rango characters
rango characters


This film boasts an engaging cast of characters with each one possessing their own individual personality and backstory. Below are some of the key protagonists and their voice actors:

  • Rango/Lars(Johnny Depp): is a chameleon who lives as a sheltered family pet and enjoys acting. When he accidentally winds up in Dirt, where he assumes the identity of Rango to impersonate a tough gunslinger he becomes appointed Sheriff by Mayor and works to defend against various threats to Dirt while searching for his true identity.
  • Beans (Isla Fisher): Beans is a desert iguana who owns her own ranch in Dirt. As the only person aware of its water shortage situation, she’s independent yet strong-willed with a soft spot for Rango; though when nervous or scared she suffers what’s known as “The Big Sleep”.
  • Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy): is an outlaw rattlesnake known for being vicious and cruel. With an attached Gatling gun attached to his tail and a penchant for killing, Jake works for Mayor who uses him to intimidate and eliminate anyone opposing her authority.
  • Mayor John (Ned Beatty): Mayor John, an elderly desert tortoise, serves as the corrupt leader of Dirt. He secretly controls its water supply and plots to turn the town into a modern metropolis. John manipulates Rango into being his puppet before betraying him when it becomes evident he knows too much.
  • Roadkill (Alfred Molina): Roadkill is an armadillo with nine bands who is searching for the mysterious Spirit of the West. When Rango first meets him in the desert he gives directions to Dirt and later assists Rango and Beans escape Mayor Henchmen and find their destination: Spirit of the West.
  • Spirit of the West Timothy Olyphant plays the “Spirit of the West”, an enigmatic figure who appears much like Clint Eastwood from iconic Western films, to encourage Rango in becoming his destiny and becoming heroic. He rides a golf cart pulled by four metal horses and owns an impressive collection of golden Oscars.


This film chronicles the adventures of Rango, a chameleon who lives as a beloved family pet but secretly harbors a passion for acting. Accidentally being transported into the desert via his owners’ car, Rango meets an armadillo named Roadkill who informs him about Dirt’s mysterious water source on Wednesdays; Rango arrives there and quickly makes an impressionful first impression among its inhabitants by claiming to have shot seven brothers with one bullet and accidentally killing a hawk terrorizing their town before being appointed sheriff by their Mayor who seems both generous yet corrupt and greedy at first glance.

Rango soon discovers that his town is experiencing a severe water shortage and that the only source of its supply is stored in a bank vault guarded by Balthazar – where it remains frozen up by nervous or scared residents, known as Beans (a desert iguana who owns a ranch and knows all of its details), though she never tells him why this is. He meets Beans, who tells him the truth behind the water situation: that Mayor had secretly controlled its distribution to turn into modern cities plotting against her and plotting against her; furthermore she revealed her condition of freezing up when nervous or scared — she calls this “big sleep”. Rango develops feelings for her but refuses to admit his feelings despite this development; eventually it transpires into relationship.

One day, Rango and Beans discover that water has been stolen from the bank vault by bandits led by Burt, hired by Mayor to stage a robbery ploy. Rango manages to stop the bandits, only to find himself face to face with Rattlesnake Jake – an infamous desert outlaw known for exposing Rango as fraud and driving him from town – who exposes Rango as being fake, leaving him feeling ashamed and hopeless in his journey across the desert. Roadkill advises Rango to seek out the Spirit of the West, an elusive figure who will help him identify himself. Following Roadkill’s advice, Rango eventually meets up with this mysterious being who looks similar to Clint Eastwood from Western movies – who tells Rango he must return to Dirt and face Jake again as part of fulfilling his destiny.

Rango returns to Dirt, only to discover that its Mayor has taken control and taken Beans away. Furthermore, Rango discovers that New Dirt’s Mayor has been diverting water from a nearby dam for their own use; with plans in mind to flood Dirt itself. Rango rallies the townsfolk to fight back against Mayor and his henchmen, challenging Jake to a duel. Rango uses his acting skills and his cunning wits to cause Jake to shoot through a window of the bank vault, unleashing flood waters onto the town and flooding it all over. The flood waters also helped flush away Mayor and his men as well as free Beans from captivity. Rango and Beans shared an emotional kiss, and all celebrated their victory with Rango as a hero; Jake eventually spared Rango’s life and left Dirt. In turn, Rango was celebrated as an icon and continued serving Dirt as sheriff while starting an intimate relationship with Beans.


  • Trivia This film pays homage to Western cinema, making several references to iconic titles like The Good, Bad and Ugly, High Noon, The Magnificent Seven and The Wild Bunch. Additionally, there are references made to film noir, musicals and Star Wars.
  • Gore Verbinski had an idea while making the Pirates of the Caribbean films with Johnny Depp that inspired this animated feature: creating something more realistic and dark than usual family entertainment, while working with Industrial Light & Magic, founded by George Lucas who had never done such an endeavor before.
  • The film was made using an innovative process known as “emotion capture”, in which actors performed lines and movements on camera in a studio before using this footage as reference for animators to animate it later. This created a more naturalistic look while giving each actor room to improvise and interact freely with one another. Real animals were used as models for characters within this animation as they are included into its natural behavior and movements into its animation process.
  • Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist and author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which was later made into a Johnny Depp film), makes an appearance in this film as a cameo appearance driving a red convertible with Rango’s terrarium falling out the back – this scene being an allusion to Fear and Loathing where Thompson drives through the desert with drugs in their trunk while sporting a tail-hanging lizard tail on their vehicle – this scene also references its opening scene from Fear and Loathing where Thompson drives with an attorney through similar desert terrain in F&L where they drive with drug-filled trunk full drugs in Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas with tail hanging off and tail hanging off their vehicle tail from behind as referenced from F&L film adaptation with Johnny Depp playing his character from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas film adaptation Johnny Depp playing the character played by Johnny Depp himself in fear and loathing in its opening scene when Thompson drives through desert with tail hanging off-car.
  • The film was both critically and commercially successful, garnering high reviews from critics and audiences alike. It grossed $245.7 million worldwide against an original budget of $135 million – making it one of the highest-grossing animated films of 2011. Additionally, it won multiple awards, such as Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film; Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and BAFTA Award for Best Aesthetic Achievement for Animation Film Production (all 2013).

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