Is ‘The Rum Diary’ Next For Johnny Depp?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 23rd, 2013 at 6:55 am,

the rum diary image Is The Rum Diary Next For Johnny Depp?

As we all know Johnny Depp is one hell of a popular and in-demand actor. Upcoming he’s got the Michael Mann crime film Public Enemies, then he’s got his step-in appearance for the late Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and following that he’s got yet another Tim Burton collaboration as he portrays The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.

And now a casting call has come out that suggests that Depp’s next role will be in the adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel The Rum Diary, which is set to start production in March this year. If Depp is cast he will play Paul Kemp, described as “a divorced, alcoholic, and struggling novelist”.

Here’s the story of the novel:

A journalist named Paul Kemp, who moves from New York to work for a small newspaper, The Daily News, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Set in the late 1950s, the novel encompasses a tangled love story of jealousy, treachery and violent alcoholic lust among the American expatriates who staff the newspaper.

The adaptation has been in development hell for the last 10 years or so – production was scheduled way back in 2000 and again in 2003, switching production companies, directors and financial backers along the way. Before his death Thompson spoke of his strong desire to see it be made.

Depp isn’t the only actor to be attached to the project – others including Josh Hartnett, Benicio Del Toro (Depp’s co-star in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and Nick Nolte, amongst others, but none of these are attached anymore.

When I first read the story outline (given above) I immediately thought of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, even before I found out the two projects were linked by the same writer. To me it sounds a bit too similar although perhaps it’s supposed to be that way, functioning as a sort of companion piece.

However I am intrigued that Depp might play this role – he was absolutely fantastic in Fear and Loathing, and I would welcome seeing him portray a similar type of character again.

Generally it’s surprising he’s choosing to work as much as he is, it wasn’t that long ago that all he seemed to play was Captain Jack Sparrow. But I, for one, am glad he’s broken out of that mould and has started to play a diversity of roles again.

Have any of you read the source novel of The Rum Diary and if so do you think Depp will fit the role well?

Sources: The Bad and Ugly, Contact Music and Moono

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  1. There would be no other that could play this role than Depp. The character of Paul Kemp is basically a take on Hunter himself in his early start to his career in journalism. (At least that’s how I read it as, it has been a decade since I’ve read any of Thompson books but the underlining current is always a general take on himself and his experiences.)

    I just recently rewatched Bill Murrays role as Thompson in ‘Where the Buffalo Roam’. It would be great to see this revisited with Depp’s take on Thompson.

    The one book of Hunters I’d love to see adapted to a screen or documentary or something would be ‘Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang’ in which he openly joins or opens association with the Hells Angels which ultimately ends up with him being beaten to a bloody pulp by the biker gang.

    I still haven’t seen the new Documentary about his life, ‘Gonzo’ Don’t even know if it is out yet, I’ll have to try to track that one down if it is.

    To those who don’t know much about Hunter S. Thompson, he was a written sports and political journalist and writer who developed ‘Gonzo Journalism’ Essentially a mix of alcohol, drugs and journalism (ala Fear and Loathing) He was also quite the gun nut and fittingly ended his story by chewing off the end of his .45 calibre a few years back.

  2. i haven’t read the book, but plan to download it as soon as i’m done typing this. But i would absolutely love to see Johnny as this character. He was AMAZING in Fear & Loathing (and pretty much everything else he’s in) not only that but if he pairs up with Benicio again that’s just magic in the making! I love Hunter S. Thompson’s writing style and would be thrilled to see another one of his books be put on screen.

  3. Sounds interesting.
    I thought Depp only worked with Tim Burton these days.

  4. I read the book this past summer while I was visiting my family in Puerto Rico. (How fitting!) I enjoyed the book, as I enjoy most of Thompson’s work. I think Depp at Paul Kemp would be fantastic, but my concern is Kemp is twenty something and Depp, though he looks GREAT for his age, doesn’t look so much like he’s in his twenties.

    I didnt read Fear and Loathing, I have just watched the film, but having read the Rum Diary I’m not sure where I see any simlarieties, other than the fact that the main character is a journalist dabbling in drugs and an overuse of alcohol.

    Regardless, I am dieing to see this film be made!! I’ve been trying to keep tabs on it for the past few years now. I am a huge fan of Thompson & Depp and when they combine, the result is an instant classic. I’d also love to see Del Toro, Hartnett and Nolte back on the band wagon. I think their performances would shine strong in this film. A while back I heard rumor of Scarlett Johanson playing the female lead, but I guess we’ll see out the cast pans out.

  5. actually, thompson began writing the book when he was 22, and the character of Paul Kemp is based on Thompsons fear that his future would be like Kemp’s, who is in his 50′s in the novel. i’ve been waiting for this movie for a while now and i really hope that the rumours are true. btw there cannot be any other actor playing Kemp, than johnny Depp. Got to be him. Or else it wont be the same movie as it should be.

  6. Hmm, maybe I should re-read the book. I dont know why I felt that he was a young character. My mistake, but thanks for noting.

    I agree that no other actor could play Kemp.

  7. ummm, the rum diary and fear and loathing in las vegas are not really that alike.