In 1998, Johnny Depp found a manuscript amongst a pile of old artifacts he was searching through while visiting the home of his good friend Hunter S. Thompson. Next month, he'll bring it to the big screen.
The manuscript, Thompson's first attempt at novel writing, was called "The Rum Diary," and gave a fictionalized account of his time in Puerto Rico as a cub reporter in 1958. Depp promised that he would adapt it into a movie, and six years after Thompson's suicide, he's done so, with some major changes.
The Oscar-nominee plays Paul Kemp, who is, in the film version, the summation of two characters meant to represent opposing sides of Thompson's personality and experience. In fact, the film makes a lot of changes like that, taking what was an unfinished novel and creating a story that Depp knew his late friend could be proud of.
He spent a lot of time, "policing it, being the police of what Hunter would or would not have wanted, and really kind of going, All right, here's the scene. That's great. Here's a scene, but we have to police this scene," he told Vanity Fair in their new cover story. As he explained to the magazine, Thompson knew some things worked better on page than screen and would require fixing.
Bruce Robinson wrote the script, though Depp had his say there, too. If he didn't like something, "I change it. I just go: 'You now what? It ain't right... I re-write."
The result is a mixture of Thompson's experience and Depp's vision, a tinted palleted look at a boozy era at a floundering newspaper in a tropical paradise. The film co-stars Amber Heard as a sort of forbidden love interest, Richard Jenkins as a newspaper editor and Aaron Eckhart as a wealthy man engaged to Heard.