A film based on a much-loved book by her favourite author. A writer she thinks is a genius. The chance to co-star with Johnny Depp, and film in exotic Puerto Rico. For Amber Heard to take her role in The Rum Diary, what exactly was the draw?
"I'll put it this way," she explains in London. "It did not take me long to say yes to this movie. It was not a huge struggle for me to accept it. I've always been a massive fan of Hunter S Thompson, long before this. And I loved (screenwriter) Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I, I thought he was a genius. I just thought, 'Wow, they're going to pay me too?' It was a dream job."
For Heard, previously seen in Pineapple Express and Zombieland, this may have been a dream come true, but the thoughtful actress is also aware of the burden of bringing The Rum Diary to the screen, because of the strength of the connection between Depp and Thompson.
Depp came across a copy of The Rum Diary while he was once staying at the author's house and vowed to bring it to the screen one day. When Thompson shot himself in 2005, it was Depp who fulfilled his friend's wish and arranged to have his ashes blasted into the sky with a canon.
On set, Heard explains, Thompson's influence remained evident:
"His influence was certainly there, because this all came from his mind. This was his creation. And Johnny was a friend. There's an intimate connection that he has, not only with the man who created this, but also the subject material, there's an aesthetic which Johnny gets in a sacred way."
For Depp, this meant making a careful selection of writer with whom he could trust the screenplay, and he alighted on Bruce Robinson, a Brit in semi-retirement since the cult and enduring success of Withnail and I. For Heard, a big fan of Thompson's work herself, this was a natural choice:
"Bruce Robinson is the perfect person to tell this story. He didn't set out to change or compete with the book, just augmented the already precious nature of it.
For Heard the experience of filming The Rum Diary has obviously been a rare treat, so as a self-professed bookie, would she like to perform the same labour of love for one of her authors?
"I would, but I have less faith that I would be able to do it justice. I would love to become more secure in my craft first. Johnny has done a wonderful job."
The Rum Diary is in cinemas from Friday 11 November. Watch the trailer below:
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