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Johnny Depp vs. Hunter S. Thompson

An insight to the character of Raoul Duke, portrayed in the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Though Hunter S Thompson is often portrayed by alter ego, Raoul Duke, many of the categorized events were actually experienced by Thompson himself. His characteristics are typically drug-induced, sporadic qualities that exaggerate an otherwise sober individual. I, however, find the persona of Thompson enlightening and comedic as his fictional character critiques the norm of society and engages in abnormal conflicts. The respective literature I associate this article in particular with, is that of film adaptation Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; featuring Johnny Depp as Duke.

Also known as A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, the story exhibits Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they interact with characters in a drug-induced state travel through Las Vegas. The original piece was firstly published in Rolling Stone in 1971, and eventually printed as a novel. The factual events are described by Thompson through the perspective of Duke and Gonzo, played by Benicio Del Toro. The latter events and scenes delivered are quite debatable, likely to even Thompson, himself. The heave usage of drugs including marijuana, alcohol, and other chemical substances quite literally deceive the mind of reality and probability. Hallucinogenic trips take place in hotel rooms, automobiles, and other spiritual visions.

Initially, actors such as John Cusack and Jack Nicholson were cast to portray the young journalist. However, after a briefly meeting with Johnny Depp, Thompson declared that no other actor could rightly play such a character. Depp became accustomed to the role by conversing with Thompson and attempting to mimic his physical posture and speech recognitions. Much of Thompson’s clothing was borrowed by Depp, as well as his car, identification cards, and other incomparable inflections needed to drastically portray the role. Supposedly, Thompson even shaved his head!

Apparently, Thompson was greatly impressed by Depp’s performance, as the writer will once again include Depp in the story The Rum Diary, in 2010. This performance will exhibit Depp as freelance writer, Paul Kemp, who attempts to redefine his life in the Caribbean, surrounding by many prolific and exciting characters. Unfortunately, the late Thompson will be unable to participate in the film adaptation; though I am sure Depp will prove splendid and is the obvious choice to remake such a tale.

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1 Comment
  1. Posted January 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Very interesting. I, myself, am an aficionado of the Terry Gilliam film, and it is good to be reminded how good it was. And Depp had Thompson/Duke to the life – when Thompson saw Depp say “can’t stop here – this is bat country”, he was apparently tripping on deja-vu. Another interesting thing was that before he would let Depp interview him, Thompson insisted he take part in a “lost weekend”!

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