The film version of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel “The Rum Diary” is finally hitting the screen on October 28 after a long and tumultuous trip through development hell. The movie had been optioned by now-defunct production company The Shooting Gallery who never managed to get it off the ground.
On January 22, 2001, in a fit of frustration and anger, Thompson sent production executive Holly Sorensen the following letter:
Hunter S. Thompson
HOLLY SORENSON / Shooting Gallery / Hollywood / Jan 22 ‘01
Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary.
We are not even spinning our wheels aggresivly. It’s like the whole Project got turned over to Zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway… I seem to be the only person who’s doing anything about getting this movie Made. I have rounded up Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England, named Michael Thomas, who is a very smart boy & has so far been a pleasure to talk to & conspire with…
So there’s yr. fucking Script & all you have to do now is act like a Professional & Pay him. What the hell do you think Making a Movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. New Mercedes & yr. Ski Trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is…. If you’re that fucking Poor you should get out of the Movie Business. It is no place for Amateurs & Dilletants who don’t want to do anything but “take lunch” & Waste serious people’s Time.
Fuck this. We have a good writer, we have the main parts casted & we have a very marketable movie that will not even be hard to make….
And all you are is a goddamn Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus except on yr. own tits…. I’m sick of hearing about Cuba & Japs & yr. Yo-yo partners who want to change the story because the violence makes them Queasy.
Shit on them. I’d much rather deal with a Live asshole than a Dead worm with No Light in his Eyes…. If you people don’t want to Do Anything with this movie, just cough up the Option & I’ll talk to someone else. The only thing You’re going to get by quitting and curling up in a Fetal position is relentless Grief and Embarrassment. And the one thing you won’t have is Fun…
Okay, That’s my Outburst for today. Let’s hope that it gets Somebody off the dime. And if you don’t Do Something QUICK you’re going to Destroy a very good idea. I’m in the mood to chop yr. fucking hands off.
Here’s the trailer for The Rum Diary. It’s directed by Bruce Robinson based on his own screenplay. Robinson wrote and directed the fabulous Withnail And I, one of my all-time favorite movies. The Rum Diary is produced by and stars Johnny Depp who was close and very loyal to Thompson. These are good indicators that the movie may be a fine one indeed.
Robinson, a recovering alcoholic, was hit with a bad case of writer’s block while working on the screenplay for the movie. He jumped off the wagon and managed to kickstart his Muse by drinking a bottle of booze a day. I guess he needed to get into a gonzo frame of mind. Once the work was done, he immediately went back to his life of sobriety.