Cinema-goers can soon enjoy the screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson′s Caribbean adventure The Rum Diary. But before Johnny Depp stepped into the shoes of Paul Kemp, writer and director Bruce Robinson stepped into those of Thompson. Robinson first became a fan of Hunter S. Thompson′s work in the early seventies.
œMy flat-mate flung a book at me and told me to read it, recalls Robinson. œIt was Fear and Loathing. I am not making comparisons, but I thought, ˜Jesus Christ, this guy is the kind of writer I want to be.’ I became an enormous fan because he spoke to my generation. He had managed to break out of the sterility of political coverage that had become so used to deference and innuendo, rather than the truth.
œHunter went in there roaring and raging, Robinson says. œHe always seemed like a hip Orwell to me. He spoke those same truths that I perceived in Orwell. He would always go for the jugular. I write quite a lot of political stuff myself and it′s an area that fascinates me. Hunter was a past master of the performance of the political and that′s what I always loved about him.
œThe thing that I initially connected with in regard to Hunter′s work was his honesty, Depp says. œYou read about these amazing experiences and you think, ˜That′s bullshit, it′s his imagination,′ but when you′ve lived with him, really spent time with him as I have, you realize that it′s all really true and more.
For both Depp and Robinson, the core of The Rum Diary was the film serving as an origin story for Thompson. œIt′s before Hunter became Hunter, or rather, it′s before Hunter Thompson became Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, says Depp. œYou start to see and feel and understand the elements that lead him to become Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
œThere is a line in the movie where [Paul Kemp] says, ˜I′ve got no voice, I don′t know how to write like myself,′ says Robinson. œAlthough he is a writer, we never see him hitting the keys of a typewriter until the last fifteen minutes of the movie. That′s when he has found his voice. Found his inimitable rage.
Graham King, producer on the final movie, found the humor and adventurousness to be among the most enticing aspects of the story. œPeople talk to me about it and they say, ˜This is going to be a dark story.′ It′s very Hunter and they go back to Fear and Loathing, but that′s not what this story is. It′s a lot of fun, it′s a fantastic ride!
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