[Left to Right] Del Toro, Myself, Depp
Raoul Duke (Tobey Maguire in back right)
When we were first conceiving the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas movie we had looked at a few different actors to play Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, but ended up deciding against them. At one point we were going to do an animated film based on Ralph Steadman’s illustrations, but I had given the movie rights to one of my old girlfriends and she would not accept animation. It wasn’t the “top of Hollywood.” I couldn’t reason with the bitch so we ended up having to do a live action movie.
Eventually I met Johnny Depp and was instantly convinced that only he could pull of the character of Raoul Duke. To prepare, Depp lived in my basement for 4 months, studied my notes on the Las Vegas trip, drove my car, and wore my actual clothes during filming. I was extremely impressed by his dedication to the role. For the length of the film, he actually became me. The filming is complete now and Johnny and I have remained close friends. Dr Gonzo was played by Benicio Del Toro who also underwent extreme preparations to prepare for the film, including gaining 45 pounds. Other cameos in the movie include Tobey Maguire, Gary Busey, Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci, Flea [of the Red Hot Chili Peppers], among others. Even I made a short appearance in the film…. but I’m getting ahead of myself now.
Director and Studio problems halted production of the movie for a while. I eventually got fed up with their stalling and made a legal demand to Rhino Studios, who were originally producing the film. I forced those bastards to hire Terry Gilliam as director and give him full control over the script… but Rhino was still causing problems. There was no cooperation between us. It seemed as though things were going to get ugly. Luckily, Universal Pictures jumped in at the last minute to distribute the film, and we could finally go through with the filming.
The film is finished now and I think it’s fantastic. Both actors did a tremendous job of capturing the pure insanity of the trip. When I first saw the initial screenings of the movie, I was jumping around in my seat, yelling things at the screen… I became very involved in the experience. It may have had something to do with all that acid I had taken… but the film’s still great drugs or no drugs.
I’m not particularly happy about one scene where Raoul Duke throws change at a waiter though. It’s extremely out of character, something he would never do. However, it is a minuscule part and overall I am very pleased with how the film turned out. It’s not really my type of the movie, but I appreciate it and know that a lot of people will really love it. That is my honest opinion. If I didn’t like the thing you can be damn sure I’d make it known. If you want to see a movie about me that I thought was complete trash, go watch Where the Buffalo Roam… but if you want to see a true visual masterpiece, you can wait about a month and watch Fear and Loathing.