Johnny Depp is a well-known fan and former BFF of the late Hunter S. Thompson, but it turns out that Amber Heard -- Depp's beautiful co-star in 'The Rum Diary' -- is also a lifelong admirer of the eccentric, gonzo writer. As such, she couldn't believe her luck in being cast as love interest to both Depp and Aaron Eckhart in the new film. "Who am I?" she told Moviefone of her incredible casting. Well, she was the hot zombie chick in 'Zombieland,' a bunny on the short-lived series 'Playboy Club' and helped saved the world with Nicolas Cage in 'Drive Angry.'
Heard sat down with Moviefone to discuss playing a symbol of the American Dream that both Depp's and Eckhart's characters are chasing, her history with the Thompson source book and working with one of the most famous people on the planet. (Depp, if you didn't know.)
Had you read the book 'The Rum Diary' before you made the film?
Heard: I've been a huge Hunter S. Thompson fan for a really long time. There's a certain aesthetic that I appreciate; I've always been drawn to the rebel-minded artist and if anything, that's what Hunter S. Thompson is. I've always been a fan of his. But this book is different and it spoke to me in a different way. And I was so excited when I heard they were making a movie, but I could have never imagined having a part in it.
How did you end up getting the part?
I read the script and I was so thankful that it was wonderful as was and that it respected the book as much as it did and did so much to justify Hunter S. Thompson's ideas and did so much justice to the subject matter. I told myself I would do anything to try to get the part. I started auditioning for it and it was a long process, but I eventually got it.
What was the coolest part of it for you, landing the role or that you were starring with Johnny Depp?
Honestly, this whole situation has been such an unbelievable experience for me. Who am I? For me to get a job like this is an incredible honor and to work with such a sophisticated team and with such talented actors was unbelievable and is unbelievable still to me to this day.
Did you get Johnny to tell you all his stories about Hunter? [In the press conference, Depp described his first meeting with Thompson, which involved him clearing space in a bar with a taser and a cattle prod.]
I feel so safe making a movie like this because of the relationship that Johnny has had with Hunter. Nobody else could have made this movie. Hunter has such a specific aesthetic and such an indescribable method to his madness that I think it takes a certain kind of madness and ingenuity to understand it and appreciate it in a way that it deserves and Johnny is perfect for that. He has an intimate connection with the material and a personal relationship with the creator of that material and no one better than Bruce Robinson to bring it to life.
Were you a fan of Robinson's cult film, 'Withnail and I?'
Huge fan. I remember when I found out that he was the same guy that was directing 'The Rum Diary,' I was like, "Oh, of course, who else could do this?"
Chenault is a little bit of a mystery. Her motives are hard to fathom. She has this really nice thing going with the wealthy Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart's character), until this penniless writer (Johnny) comes along. We see her more through Johnny's eyes, so we get why he falls for her, but it's less clear what she sees in him.
The symbol she stands for is such an important one in the story. In many ways, she's the vehicle that the audience uses to travel from Point A to Point B in the script. Of course, between Aaron Eckhart and Johnny Depp exists this wide spectrum of ways to approach life and the American Dream. One represents something that is a glorified, glamorous industry built on cutthroat imperialist-driven greed and Johnny represents the antithesis of that. So Chenault is important because she, with the audience, goes from one to the other. She, like Sanderson's bejeweled tortoise or his Corvette, is a symbol of success and what you should value and what you should strive for. And people like Sanderson seek to possess such things. She starts off her journey as a part of that, almost like property or another sort of victim to this society. She's a perfect example of a woman of that class and time. Because underneath, there's a flawed human being that is rebellious and fiercely independent and is in many ways the opposite of what you would expect a 1950s or 1960s housewife-in-the-making or socialite to be.
Right, like the scene in the club where Sanderson wants to leave and Chenault insists on staying.
She does her own thing.
That gets a little scary, frankly, when she gets left behind and we assume something awful has happened to her. I was worried for her.
Right, because she has to break, there has to be a moment where we see the American Dream get hurt or fall, something has to happen to it.
Did you have a problem with that scene? The movie doesn't get into what happened, but it's implied that it wasn't pretty.
I think if we had gone any deeper into it, it would have been, maybe .. I didn't want to exploit the fear there. Rather, I like that she has to go on this journey and then everything changes. And she decides she needs something else in life. She chooses Kemp (Depp's character). She chooses love and the opposite end of the spectrum from which she came.
To end on a completely different note, what's your favorite rum drink?
I don't drink so much anymore, but ... I guess a mojito.
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