Grab a bottle—or more—of your favorite booze and head down to the tropics with Hunter Thompson and Johnny Depp as we look at a few facts you may not have known about The Rum Diary.
1. IT’S BASED ON HUNTER S. THOMPSON’S SECOND NOVEL
A then 22-year-old Thompson wrote The Rum Diary in 1959, but it was abandoned until Johnny Depp found it among Thompson’s papers decades later. The book wasn’t officially published until 1998. Thompson’s first novel, entitled Prince Jellyfish, still remains unpublished.
2. THE BOOK AND MOVIE WERE SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL (STRESS THE “SEMI”)
Many details—including Thompson’s position at the San Juan Star—were true.
3. IT’S THE SECOND TIME JOHNNY DEPP PLAYS A VERSION OF HUNTER THOMPSON
He played Thompson’s persona Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
4. IT’S THE THIRD TIME A VERSION OF THOMPSON HAS APPEARED IN A FILM
Bill Murray played a version of Thompson in the 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam, which wasn’t specifically based on any of Thompson’s books.
5. IT’S THE HIGHEST GROSSING MOVIE ADAPTATION OF A THOMPSON WORK
The Rum Diary grossed over $13 million, while Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made over $10 million and Where the Buffalo Roam made over $6 million.
6. THE DIRECTOR CAME OUT OF RETIREMENT TO MAKE THE FILM
Bruce Robinson, perhaps most well known for his 1987 semi-autobiographical film Withnail and I, hadn’t directed a film in 19 years before Depp convinced him to direct The Rum Diary.
7. THE MOVIE CAUSED ROBINSON TO BREAK HIS SOBRIETY
The director was sober for six-and-a-half years before he began drinking again while writing the script for the movie.
8. IT WENT THROUGH MANY VARIATIONS
The movie finally got made after seven years in development. At points throughout the process Nick Nolte, Josh Hartnett, and Benicio del Toro were all attached to star alongside Depp. In fact, it was supposed to be del Toro’s directorial debut before Robinson was ultimately chosen.
9. THERE WEREN’T ANY HOLLYWOOD SETS…
The film shot entirely on location in Puerto Rico.
10. …SO THEY HAD TO DEAL WITH MOTHER NATURE
Despite the beautiful tropical setting, uncharacteristically bad weather delayed many shooting days throughout production. The carnival scene, which included over 500 extras, had to be shot twice.
11. DEPP LOVED PUERTO RICO SO MUCH HE WENT BACK AGAIN WITH ANOTHER BIGGER MOVIE
He requested that portions of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides be shot on the island based on his positive experiences shooting there on The Rum Diary. (Though The Rum Diary was released after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, it was shot and completed before).
12. THE MOVIE EVENTUALLY LED TO A WEDDING
Depp and Amber Heard, who would marry in 2015, met on the Rum Diary set.
13. AMBER HEARD WASN’T THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY CHENAULT
Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley were considered for the part.
14. HUNTER S. THOMPSON WAS ON SET IN SPIRIT
While Thompson died in 2005, Depp and Robinson stipulated that a chair with his name on it as well as a script and a full glass of Chivas Regal rum (Thompson’s favorite drink) had to be present on set every day.
15. A FAMOUS IMAGE FROM THE MOVIE ISN’T AS IT SEEMS
The black and white image of Thompson that appears at the end of the movie, and appears on the book cover of The Rum Diary, is of the author on Palm Beach in Aruba—not Puerto Rico.