"They've given us a special dispensation... to have lung cancer." So quipped director Bruce Robinson, joining Johnny Depp and the assembled cast of this weekend's Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary for a late morning presser the other week at the swanky Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Things kicked things off, appropriately enough, with a cloud of cigar smoke that hung in the air like the ghost of Thompson himself -- whom Robinson insisted was in the room, watching the entire proceedings.
After years of watching Johnny Depp give performances from behind thick rings of pirate eyeliner or masks of outlandish Tim Burton makeup, it's a relief to see him, more and more often these days, acting with nothing but his real face. In Bruce Robinson's The Rum Diary -- liberally adapted from Hunter S. Thompson's novel -- Depp plays a wayfaring, hard-drinking journalist, Paul Kemp, who has drifted to Puerto Rico, circa 1960, where he lands a job at a floundering, two-bit newspaper, The San Juan Star. Its editor, played by a cigar-chomping Richard Jenkins, hires him reluctantly; never mind that he was the only person who applied for the job.
Hunter S. Thompson fans have been patiently waiting over a decade for The Rum Diary to reach the big screen. (In fact, the adaptation process, which began in 2000, was so frustrating that the author himself coined the phrase "waterhead fuckaround" to describe the slow studio proceedings.) But The Rum Diary is finally in the can with a fall release date thanks to English writer and director Bruce Robinson, Thompson's long-time friend Johnny Depp and Depp's production company Infinitum Nihil. Let's take a look at the trailer!
Hunter S. Thompson's novel The Rum Diary, written in 1959 but not published until 1998 -- the year Johnny Depp channeled Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas -- tells the tale of Paul Kemp, an American journalist who finds himself living and drinking among expats in 1950s Puerto Rico. There he meets Chenault, the ravishing girlfriend of another man, with whom he becomes obsessed. After the jump see Depp and Amber Heard getting cozy as Kemp and Chenault in a still from the October release, adapted by writer-director Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I, Jennifer 8).