Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:Film version (1998)

The film version was directed by Terry Gilliam and starred Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. Released on May 22, 1998, it only earned about US$10.5 million at U.S. box offices (it was budgeted at approximately US$18.5 million) but has since become a cult classic.

The lead actors undertook extraordinary preparations for their respective roles. Del Toro gained more than 40 pounds (18 kg) before filming began, and extensively researched Acosta's life. Depp lived with Thompson for months, doing research for the role as well as studying Thompson's habits and mannerisms. Depp even traded his car for Thompson's red Chevrolet Caprice convertible, known to fans as the Great Red Shark, and drove it around California during his preparation for the role. Many of the costumes that Depp wears in the film are actually reproductions of genuine pieces that Depp borrowed from Thompson, and Thompson himself shaved Depp's head to match his own natural male pattern baldness. Thompson also had a brief cameo in the film as his character, portrayed by Depp, has a flashback to a San Francisco music club, The Matrix, where Thompson can be seen sitting at a table as Depp walks by narrating his inner monologue, "There I was ... Mother of God! There I am!".

Both actors were cast by the film's original director, Alex Cox, who wrote the original screenplay with his longtime collaborator, Tod Davies. When Gilliam became director of the project, he rejected the Cox/Davies screenplay. Thompson himself disliked it and did not approve of Cox's approach to the movie. Gilliam then decided to attempt his own screenplay with collaborator Tony Grisoni. When the film approached release, Gilliam learned that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) would not allow Alex Cox's and Tod Davies' names to be removed from the credits even though none of their material was used in the production of the film. Angered over having to share credit, Gilliam left the WGA and, on certain early premiere prints of the film, made a short introductory sequence in which an anonymous presenter assures the audience that no screenwriters were involved in writing the film, despite what it says in the credits.

Thompson's disapproval of the Cox/Davies script treatment is documented in the film Breakfast with Hunter, wherein he rails against the writers for planning an animated portrayal of the "wave speech" in the original book, which he considered "probably the finest thing I've ever written." By the time Fear and Loathing was released as a Criterion Collection DVD in 2003, Thompson showed his approval of the Gilliam version by recording a full-length audio commentary for the movie as well as participating in several DVD special features.

The 1980 film Where the Buffalo Roam was based on several Thompson pieces including Fear and Loathing. The movie, though not a strict adaptation of the book, was directed by Art Linson from a screenplay by John Kaye and starred Bill Murray as Thompson and Peter Boyle as Acosta, renamed "Carl Lazlo" for the screen.


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