Johnny Depp & Hunter S. Thompson: 6 Surprising Things About Their Friendship

Johnny DeppWhat's with Johnny Depp and the Hunter S. Thompson thing? You may well ask, considering that, with this weekend's release of The Rum Diary, Depp slips into the late gonzo journalist's persona onscreen for the second time, having played Thompson previously in the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Maybe you knew that, before Thompson shot and killed himself in 2005, at the age of 67, he and Depp were pals?

Yup, and here are a few other things you might not know about the actor's friendship with the late, lamented writer:


1. Depp was a fan of Thompson's long before he met him: The actor had read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when he was a teenager, but wouldn't get face-time with the author he so admired until years later.

2. They "met cute" in a crowded bar: In 1994, a mutual friend asked Depp if he'd like to meet Thompson, and told him to show up in a specific Colorado drinking hole at midnight. Thompson came in waving a cattle prod and a Taser. "People were hurling their bodies, leaping out of the way to try and save themselves from this maniac," Depp told the Associated Press. "Then he made his way to me. The sparks had died down, he just walked right up to me and put his hand out and said, 'How do you do? My name is Hunter.'"

3. The two had a few things in common:
Both were born in Kentucky. Both admired authors like Ernest Hemingway and Nathaniel West. Depp claims Thompson's spirit is with him "24 hours a day."

4. Thompson made Depp earn his friendship: That first night they met, Depp ended up at Thompson's house. The actor admired a shotgun of Thompson's and the author asked if he wanted to fire it. Depp agreed, and Thompson then upped the ante by insisting he fire it into a homemade bomb made of "propane tanks and nitroglycerin." So Depp took it out back, "leveled that 12-gauge and I blew it up -- 80-foot fireball," Depp told the AP. "I think that was my kind of rite of passage with Hunter ... my test that I was OK." It was par for the course. In an interview with SheKnows, Depp said, "There was never a dull moment with Hunter, ever."

5. Without Depp, The Rum Diary might still be moldering in a box: Depp spent time with Thompson at the author's home before playing him in Fear and Loathing, and discovered the unpublished manuscript for The Rum Diary in a box. He convinced Thompson to publish it (written in the early '60s, it wasn't published until 1998), which Thompson agreed to do only if Depp played him should the book be made into a movie.

6. Depp thinks Thompson would have been proud of his efforts: When Depp called his pal after playing him in Fear and Loathing, he was worried that the rawness of his performance might have killed the friendship. But the actor told the Arizona Republic that Thompson quickly put his fears to rest. "He said, 'No, no, man ... It was like an eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield' ... It doesn't get better."

Do you plan to go see Depp play Thompson (again) in The Rum Diary?


Image via divasss/Flickr

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