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A brief guide to Hunter S. Thompson on film (a.k.a. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”)

November 1st, 2011 by Rick · No Comments ·

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author Hunter S. Thompson. Over the years, my fascination with his life and career have become a matter of public record, and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to interview people who knew him well and accumulate a lot of great material related to his work and the latter period of his career.

Heck, I even have a sketchbook of various comic artists’ depictions of him.

So you can imagine how excited I am about The Rum Diary finally arriving in theaters. I’m planning to check it out this week (or possibly over the weekend), and I also wrote up a feature for Movies.com last week that serves as a guide to his on- and off-screen contributions (and representations) over the years.

Here’s an excerpt:

Based on a novel Thompson wrote in the early 1960s about his time as a sports reporter in San Juan, The Rum Diary casts Johnny Depp as Thompson stand-in Paul Kemp, a significantly more subdued version of the man whose epic, drug-fueled adventures later gave birth to the term “gonzo journalism.”

The role is a return to familiar territory for Depp, who portrayed Thompson’s pill-popping, gun-wielding alter ego Raoul Duke in the 1998 adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Still, it ‘s worth noting that Johnny Depp isn’t the only actor to portray Thompson (or one of his alter egos) on the screen, and his wild San Juan and Las Vegas adventures aren’t the only stories Thompson had adapted.

Here’s a brief guide to some of the other movie and television projects involving Thompson and his work – including a few you might already know about, and some that might surprise you!


In this 1980 film based on several essays (and an obituary) written by Thompson, Bill Murray played the visor-wearing, pill-popping writer during his attempts to cover 1972 Super Bowl and presidential election. Murray spent so much time with the author during production that his Thompson-inspired mannerisms are noticeable in many of the Saturday Night Live episodes the actor filmed after the project wrapped.

Along with Murray as Thompson, Where the Buffalo Roam also casts Peter Boyle as the writer’s attorney associate Oscar Zeta Acosta (renamed “Carl Lazlo” in the film) – the same role that Benicio Del Toro later played in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

You can read the rest of the feature on Movies.com

Tags: clips · movies