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By Dom Walker
20th November 2020
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From The Vault: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Next in our From the Vault series, we're taking a look at Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

This extraordinary film from Terry Gilliam based on the modern classic novel by Hunter S. Thompson sees Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) heading out to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race for a magazine but, under the influence of assorted substances, their experience is put into a new light.

So come with us for a trip in the Nevada heat and try to keep hold of your senses...

 

Depp and Del Toro in the car

"We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold."

 

The Great Red Shark

"The Great Red Shark" used in the film was a 1971 Chevrolet Impala, the same make and model that belonged to Hunter S. Thompson.

 

Gilliam talks with Depp

Director Terry Gilliam passes instructions to Johnny Depp.

 

Depp, Del Toro and Maguire

An early film appearance for Tobey Maguire as The Hitchhiker, within the next few years he would go on to star in The Cider House Rules, Wonder Boys and Spider-Man.

 

Johnny Depp relaxing

Johnny Depp went a step further than most in his research for the role by moving in for a few months with writer and inspiration for Raoul Duke, Hunter S. Thompson, with the two going on to become life-long friends.

 

Benicio Del Toro as Dr Gonzo

"A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die" - The memorable description of Dr Gonzo, Duke's attorney played by Benicio Del Toro.

Depp and Gilliam in conversation

The film swirled around in development hell for several years. Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Alex Cox were all linked to the project before Terry Gilliam took the helm with Thompson’s approval.

 

Outside the casino

Filming took place both in the studio and on location in Nevada such as here outside Plaza Hotel and Casino on Main Street, Las Vegas.

 

Depp and Del Toro at the bar

"Terrible things were happening all around us" – Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro on set, golf shoes at the ready.

 

Christina Ricci as Lucy

Lucy (Christina Ricci) with her collection of Barbra Streisand pictures.

 

Bazooko Circus gorilla

Bringing in the raging gorilla statue outside the Bazooko Circus, in this case the Boardwalk Casino in Las Vegas which closed in 2006.

 

Outside the Circus

"Ether is the perfect drug for Las Vegas. In this town they love a drunk. Fresh meat. So they put us through the turnstiles and turned us loose inside."

 

Raoul with his typewriter

Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) hanging on to his typewriter emblazoned with the mottos ‘Off the Pigs’ and ‘War is Good Business’.

 

Raoul heading for the car

Thompson gave Depp a number of his clothes and personal items for Depp to wear in the film such as his patchwork jacket.

 

Gary Busey's appearance

Gary Busey as the Highway Patrolman in a scene that takes an unexpected turn. Busey was just one of many cameos in the film with Cameron Diaz, Harry Dean Stanton and Ellen Barkin among others popping up in small roles.

 

Depp and Gilliam on set

Filming began in August 1997 on location in Las Vegas. Depp and Gilliam attempted to team up a year later for another desert based shoot in Gilliam’s Don Quixote project which was beset by problems and only eventually came to fruition in 2018 (The Man Who Killed Don Quixote) by which point Depp had dropped out.

 

 

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