Aaron Eckhart stars in "The Rum Diary" with Johnny Depp, but he actually prefers Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Hunter S. Thompson. He grew up in the Church of Latter Day Saints, but has absolutely no opinion on Mitt Romney's candidacy. He's studying to play Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, but claims he can't sing.
The Huffington Post recently discovered these contradictions and more while chatting with Eckhart at the Savannah Film Festival:
You just did "The Rum Diary" with Johnny Depp, who plays writer Hunter S. Thompson. What was he like to work with?
We filmed in Puerto Rico, which wasn't bad, and it was a fun movie because Johnny was so involved. It is his passion project, so everyone on the crew has done six movies with him and it was like filming with his family. I got along really well with him. We had a good time, which I was happy about, and you know, Johnny is crazy about Hunter. He is passionate about him and knows him really well and feels a responsibility to carry on his legacy in a certain way, so if it weren't for Johnny, these movies wouldn't get made.
Are you a Hunter S. Thompson fan?
I am more of a Dostoyevsky fan. I am sure Hunter read Dostoyevsky. I do like Hunter. I have read some of his books, but I am not an aficionado. I love the idea that he lived his life in his way, and I think that's to be admired because I think it takes a lot of energy and courage to live against the grain like Hunter did. I think Johnny leads his own life that way.
How did you get into acting?
I was 14, in high school in England, and I was on my way to rugby practice when I saw a sign for auditions for a "Charlie Brown" play. Since my school was so small, no one else auditioned and I got the role of Charlie and I had seven solos.
So you can sing and dance?
No, I was dreadful because those songs are high. Somebody had to kick me in the balls to get up there sometimes. Then I went to a school for the arts in Sydney and I got a theater degree at Brigham Young University and then moved to New York
Brigham Young? Are you a fan of Mitt Romney?
I don't know. I'm studying for two movies right now -- "I, Frankenstein" and "The Drummer," which is about Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys -- so I am sort of underwater right now. I am trying to figure out how to play the drums and piano, and to be a monster.
You play the unnamed monster in "I, Frankenstein."
Victor Frankenstein is the creator and he never named the monster, although it was alluded his name was Adam since it is the story of creation. The only names the monster was called were "wretched" and "abortion," and Mary Shelley didn't hold back. It's unbelievable the language in that book. It's such a far cry from what we read today.
How was taking on the role of a monster?
I'm not saying I'm going to win an Oscar for it, but I am beginning my odyssey. This is a movie for today's audiences, so I'm not going to be the definitive Frankenstein, for sure, but it is going to be an exciting movie. If you read Mary Shelley, the monster had deep, deep feelings and he was obsessed with living people and loving life, but he was given nothing but the gristle of life and that's where his rage comes from.
So it's kind of like "Frankenstein" for the Occupy Wall Street generation?
Again, it's the beauty of literature. It is timeless and every issue in "Frankenstein" is being played today in our intimate personal lives. We're all human beings and we have the same sense of order about us. As I hear more about the Occupy movement, it's like now they need structure and it is a bit like "Lord of the Flies." It is impossible to live in anarchy. There's a natural hierarchy to things. Man wants structure.
Tell me more about studying to be a Beach Boy.
I don't know how many people know this, but Dennis Wilson, the drummer for The Beach Boys, was at the end of his life and he died young after having finished his second solo album. His first solo album came out this soulful, dark personal piece of music that was highly acclaimed by the critics of the time.
After Brian Wilson started going into his malaise, Dennis had to take over song-writing duties and came to realize he was a good songwriter. The movie is about his journey and it is financed by the guy who produced his album, so we have all of Dennis' unreleased music. It's a big challenge and I am sort of freaking out, because it is going to be a lot of work, including learning to play the piano and the drums and sing.
Is someone going to have to kick you in the balls again?
No, thank the Lord, because Dennis' range is down there.