The Hollywood actor got the idea for a booze-soaked send-off after building a cannon to blast his late pal Hunter S. Thompson's ashes into the air.
Depp, who plays the U.S. writer in his latest film The Rum Diary, says, "I could go in a whisky cask (at my funeral) and everyone can take a sip.
"Hunter had dreamed of a special way to go. He wanted to be fired from a cannon. Brilliant! So I built a huge cannon after his death in 2005 and fired his ashes into the sky."
The pair headed to Puerto Rico to shoot scenes for the film version of Hunter S. Thompson's novel The Rum Diary, and they intended to steer clear of drinking sessions to concentrate on work.
But the sweltering conditions left them dehydrated - and they headed to a bar to down bottles of beer just hours after filming began.
Depp tells Britain's The Sun, "Bruce and I had made this pact initially where we weren't going to drink for the first couple of months of the film. It was to see how long we could do it for, plus we would be able to really focus on the work.
"We lasted until it was about four in the morning, about 3,000 per cent humidity and about 500 million degrees Fahrenheit and we saw this little corner 'bodega' store and I said, 'Bruce, I've got to do it'. We ran in, pounded three Coronas and that was the end of sobriety."
The Hollywood actor hosted a screening of his new movie The Rum Diary at the Oxford Union and followed it up by answering students' queries about his late friend Hunter S. Thompson, the author of the book on which the film is based.
Depp then mixed with students interested in journalism at a special reception.
The event was so popular, organisers held a ballot to determine who received an invitation.
Other famous speakers at the union have included including Michael Jackson, Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa.
Paramount Pictures’ Dreamworks Animation release of Puss in Boots in 3D easily clawed its way to the top of the weekend chart with $34 million. The Shrek 2 spinoff character was an obvious choice for his own movie given the appeal and popularity of Puss as effectively voiced by actor Antonio Banderas. Also starring Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis the PG-Rated film will be like catnip to family audiences looking for a fun romp at the movie theater. The IMAX presentations earned a healthy $3.2 million on 294 global screens.
Additional Puss in Boots info courtesy of Paramount pictures:
59% female vs. 41% male
45% under 25 vs. 55% 25 and over
35% of the audience was Hispanic
3D was 51% and Imax was 7%
Paranormal Activity 3 surprised everyone last weekend with its monstrous $52.57 million debut and scared up another $18.5 million this weekend against a steep horror-genre typical 67% second weekend drop. Audiences, in the mood for some appropriately scary Halloween entertainment lined up for the profitable fright fest which has earned $81.3 million to date.
In third place Fox’s sci-fi thriller In Time starring newly minted movie star Justin Timberlake took in $12 million. Set in a retro-future where people can pay to stop aging when they reach 25 years old, the film shows the inevitably unpleasant consequences of what happens when such an unnatural option is made available to the populace.
Fourth place goes to Paramount’s Footloose in its third weekend with a gross of $5.4 million after solid mid-week numbers a total gross to date of $38.4 million.
With a lower-than-expected $5 million the Top 5 is rounded out by a very inebriated Johnny Depp as Journalist Paul Kemp in Film District’s big screen adaptation of Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s novel The Rum Diary. The novel written in 1961 but not published until 1998 was shepherded to the big screen by Depp who previously appeared in another Thompson screen adaptation, 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
An up weekend (by 8% vs. the same weekend a year ago) at the box office continues to chip away at the year over year revenue deficit as we charge toward what looks to be a very solid Holiday movie season at the nation’s theaters.
Weekend Box Office
Top Movies for Weekend of October 28, 2011 (Estimates)
Movie Weekend Gross Total to Date
1 Puss in Boots (G) $34.0M $34.0M
2 Paranormal Activity 3 (R) $18.5M $81.3M
3 In Time (PG13) $12.0M $12.0M
4 Footloose (PG-13) $5.4M $38.4M
5 The Rum Diary (R) $5.0M $5.0M
Bill Murray was once referred to as the "tippy-top of the A-List" (by a man from Tallahassee—but not the man from Tallahassee), and has been celebrated by many of us as one of the finest actors in the history of Hollywood. With all sincerity do I mean that: he is comedically brilliant, and dramatically exquisite. So, whatever side of himself he'll be hosing us down with in the upcoming Roman Coppola film, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, we should be ready to be doused in some vehement amazement. Murray will be joining an already impressive cast including Charlie Sheen, the indy-maestro Jason Schwartzman and the heart-stealing Aubrey Plaza.
Murray has regaled us with talent for over thirty years. Some of his career highlights include Carl Spackler in Caddyshack, Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters, Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, his roles in Wes Anderson films such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Acquatic (not to mention the upcoming Moonrise Kingdom), and Bob Harris in Lost in Translation. Murray is also one of the few non-Johnny Depp actors to portray Hunter S. Thompson in film (to the writer's delight, at least), playing Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam. My point: Bill Murray is good. His range is insurmountable. His delivery is human and deliberate. His everything is everything it should be.
Charlie Sheen will play the titular Charles Swan III, a wealthy, famous graphic artist whose life enters a dismal downward spiral after a devastating breakup. No word on who Murray will play just yet. But guaranteed: BEST CHARACTER. And this is coming from someone who really loves both Jason Schwartzman and Aubrey Plaza. ... Funny People was awesome.
Robinson vowed never to direct another film after 1992 flop Jennifer 8, and stuck to his word until Depp contacted him about the movie adaptation of his late pal Hunter S. Thompson's book.
And the director is delighted he overcame his reluctance to tackle the project.
He tells Total Film magazine, "The worst creative experience I've ever had in my life was working in the studio system making that f**king Jennifer 8. It was so catastrophically painful for me that I swore I would never direct a film again, and I kept my promise for 17 years.
"(Depp's) confidence in me, saying you've got to direct this - I was very reluctant and resistant to the proposition... he sort of hounded me and said you're doing it. Next thing, there he was in front of the lens and I'm doing it! I hadn't done it for so long.
"Because of the power (Depp's) got I felt very relaxed making the film and felt like I was making a great movie. Johnny seems to think that Hunter would be over the moon with it, and that does me (makes me happy)."
The Hollywood star portrays a boozing 'gonzo journalist' in the film and life seemed to imitate art in the Big Apple this week when Depp arrived at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) to promote the movie, which is based on the late Hunter S. Thompson book of the same name.
One of Depp's security members had to give the actor a helping hand as soon as he pulled up to the venue in his car, and the bodyguard was photographed lifting Depp up and taking him over to meet and greet the waiting fans, before positioning the star in front of the world's media.
An eyewitness tells WENN, "Depp looked absolutely wasted.
"The bodyguard essentially had to hold him upright the entire time he was on the carpet. He carried him out of the car and then literally picked him up off the ground and carried him over to the fans and handed him a pen.
"After a bit, (the bodyguard) just picked him up and carried him over to pose for the photographers and then held him upright as he walked into the theatre. Depp didn't look like he could stand up on his own for very long without help from his bodyguard."
But Depp remained in good spirits throughout the premiere and was snapped smiling as the bodyguard marched him into the MoMa for the screening.
A representative for the actor was unavailable for comment as WENN went to press.
You may know Hunter S. Thompson as a drug fiend. Or a pervert. Or a hero. Or a drunk. Or a great writer. Or a gun enthusiast. Or an extreme leftist. Or maybe even as a friend of Jimmy Buffett. But no matter which descriptor you land on, it’s not a complete picture of the Thompson legend. He was, and continues to be, a deep well of intrigue. It’s no wonder that a man with such a wealth of stories – especially stories in the vein of his own brand of Gonzo journalism – is consistently sought as a subject on film. But at the same time, it’s that wealth that makes it almost impossible to capture a comprehensive representation, though one man seems to have the art of HST down to a science.
It’s fairly easy to see that Johnny Depp is hands-down the best portrayer of Thompson out there, but that’s not to say there haven’t been other valiant attempts; the most notable of which was an undertaking by funny man Bill Murray. In 1980, Murray attempted to fill those infamous aviator sunglasses in a little film called Where the Buffalo Roam. It was based on Thompson’s own writing from works like The Great Shark Hunt, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with an emphasis on an obituary Thompson wrote for his cohort, attorney and activist Oscar Zeta Acosta called “The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat.” The film follows very loosely the way in which Thompson rose to fame while delving into his relationship with Acosta (Peter Boyle). While the real Thompson served as “executive consultant” on the film, Where the Buffalo Roam is a bit of a cartoonish depiction of the beloved writer. Not that there aren’t elements of Thompson that are comical and food for a film like this, but the film itself only scratched the surface.
Aside from other iterations like Doonsbury’s Uncle Duke – who was so dedicated a representation of Thompson that his character left the Doonsbury world the same way HST left ours –Depp is the only actor who’s been brave enough to throw his whole being into filling those large, complex shoes. And he’s done it not once or twice, but four separate times. And each time he does it, we see a different facet of Thompson. First – and most famously – Depp starred as Duke, the protagonist and Thompson’s persona in the Terry Gilliam film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s a part that almost went to other actors like Jack Nicholson, John Malkovich and even John Cusack before it landed in Depp’s lap, but it’s a role that seemed to be almost tailored for him.
In preparation, Depp spent four months living in the basement of Thompson’s famous Owl Farm, reading his notes, studying his mannerisms and getting perhaps the most important feature of all: Thompson’s stamp of approval. Depp donned Thompson’s own clothing in the film and displayed the fruit of all his studying: the closest replica of Thompson on film that wasn’t actually Thompson himself. He gives the same manic weight to the script that Thompson’s words evoke as one reads the mind-bending tale. Depp delivers the Thompson fans of his novels always hoped they’d get to see one day – of course the real HST does make a cameo in the film as well.
But Depp’s journey into Thompson’s world proved fruitful again. After his death, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson went into the works. While it’s a documentary, Depp once again lent his ability to channel the good doctor to the film, adding an eerie, but all too real layer to Thompson’s life story. While friends, family, colleagues – if you can call people like the Hells Angels colleagues – tell of their experiences with the legendary writer, Depp provides a deeper connection by reading excerpts from his books and notes in his perfected HST murmur.
Then comes the moment Depp takes all he’s learned about Thompson and uses it to fuel another character: Rango. From the classic Hawaiian shirt to a physique that looks like he stepped right out of a Ralph Steadman drawing onto the screen, Rango is a visual homage to Thompson at the very least. Of course, there’s also the moment in which Rango actually has a run-in with two men driving a “Red Shark” and looking suspiciously like Duke and Dr. Gonzo from Fear and Loathing. Add in the existential, seemingly drug-induced (though it’s a kids’ movie so it’s just dehydration-induced) trek across the highway and through the desert towards the end of the film and you’ve got a character laced with HST. Of course, only Depp, after forging a friendship with Thompson, has the authority in Hollywood to get away with such homages – and he does it so lovingly and accurately, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’d complain too zealously.
Of course, that unshakable right to portray his late friend on film made him the only choice for the long-awaited adaptation of Thompson’s most fictionalized novel, The Rum Diary. He stars as Paul Kemp, a thinly veiled iteration of Thompson’s young self, as he moves to Puerto Rico to write for a newspaper – much like Thompson did in 1960. At this point, we’re so familiar with Depp’s ability to deliver our beloved Thompson on film, it’s not even remarkable anymore. The minute he opens his mouth to speak as Paul Kemp, we’re already onboard – we know he’s got this. Besides, he’s the reason any of us even know The Rum Diary. It was Depp who found the manuscript while living with HST in preparation for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and urged him to publish it – and of course, Depp later ushered it to Hollywood and here we are. In a way, with The Rum Diary, Depp comes full circle.
Thompson will continue to intrigue writers and literary enthusiasts for years to come, so I’m sure that the representations we’ve seen on screen won’t be the last, but I’ll bet we’ll never see anything that expresses the fervent, respectful veneration of the representations Depp has delivered. And as a longtime Thompson fan and a longtime Depp fan, that’s perfectly alright with me.
While there is no small measure of delight inherent in the weekly spotlighting of on-the-rise talent, there is something further rewarding about showcasing up-and-comers from my own town. Such is the case with this week’s subject: the lovely, Austin-born Amber Heard.
This week, Amber will appear alongside Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary, based on a novel by, and tracking the continuing exploits of, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. In anticipation of the release of this Austinite’s latest film, here’s a look back at some of her previous work highly deserving of your attention.
Friday Night Lights
This 2004 film, which spawned its own television series two years later, is where Amber Heard first garnered attention.
Based on the book by Buzz Bissinger, the film follows the football team of Permian High School in Permian, Texas in the late 80s. Friday Night Lights adeptly chronicles the events of that season from multiple perspectives and eloquently investigates some fascinating connections between high school football and larger issues such as racism, small town economics, and the uncertainty of adolescence. If you are a fan of either football or simply fantastic characters and enthralling stories, Friday Night Lights is a film catered to your tastes. Heard, in her first feature film, plays the girlfriend of an Odessa-Permian receiver whose father, a former player, is intensely abusive. Her pleas for humanity during the father’s drunken tirades enhance the film’s emotional weight.
Even with the endless saturation of zombie media over the last several years, Zombieland managed to breath some new life into the shambling subgenre with its unique blend of satirical comedy and legitimate zombie-fighting action.
While Amber’s role in the film was small and her screen time brief, she succeeded in creating one of Zombieland’s most memorable moments. During the scene in which we are given insight into the background of the film’s young hero, played by Jesse Eisenberg, he is shown comforting his attractive neighbor who has just been attacked by what turns out to be the walking undead. When she inevitably transforms, Heard turns in a very savage and wholly convincing zombie performance; throwing her entire body into the part with great aplomb.
The film that, along with Harold Kumar Go To White Castle, officially ushered in the glorious return of the studio stoner comedy, 2008’s Pineapple Express was definitely a big hit (no pun intended). The film charts the exploits of two hapless potheads, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, who inadvertently get caught up in a murder conspiracy. Here again, Heard’s role is a supporting one, playing Rogen’s age-disproportionate high school girlfriend. She engages in some impressive banter with Rogen, keeping his character perpetually humble.
Drive Angry 3D
Nicolas Cage plays a man with a dark and infernal past who is on a violent quest to avenge the death of his daughter and to recover his infant granddaughter from an evil cult leader. Accompanying him on this quest is a beautiful young woman—who also happens to be tougher than a railroad spike.
Drive Angry may have repelled a few potential viewers while it was in theaters, due to its silly trailers and heavy reliance on 3D. Truth be told, it is quite a silly movie. But it’s also incredibly entertaining (in an old school exploitation sort of way). Heard is razor sharp as the character Piper, who proves to be simultaneously the voice of reason for Cage’s bizarre protagonist and the perfect sidekick for his misadventures.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Mandy Lane is a popular girl at her high school, but it’s been a while since she’s attended any parties. The last one she attended ended with the senseless death of one of her classmates. Almost a year later, she is convinced to attend a shindig at the ranch home of the father of another student. But as the evening progresses, several attendees begin to disappear one by one.
Up front we will warn you that All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is going to be a tough film to track down. It is not currently streaming and this American independent horror film was never released on DVD stateside. But should you possess a region-free player that would allow you to import this film, it is more than worth the effort. The film combines classic 80s horror tropes (the party horror movie) with the more extreme trends of modern horror. Heard is electric and eerily intriguing in the titular role.