Gonzo futurist Bill Murray warned Johnny Depp about The Rum Diary

Posted on 11 November 2011
By Pierce King
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Johnny Depp was warned by Groundhog Day star Bill Murray that if he got too deep into the character of Hunter S Thompson he would end up obsessed and play him again in the future.

During filming Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas in the late-90s, Bill called Johnny with the eerie prediction more than a decade ahead of The Rum Diary, which hits UK cinemas today.

The Lost In Translation actor who also played the Gonzo icon in Where The Buffalo Roam advised him to make the character completely different from Hunter.

Bill told Johnny: “Make your next role drastically different from Hunter.

“Otherwise you’ll find yourself 10 years from now still doing him.”

Bill Murray is not a name associated with method acting. But in 1979, he came face to face with Hunter, spent weeks of all night drug-fuelled bad craziness to get into character and nearly didn’t survive to tell the tale.

During production Bill and Hunter staged a series of dangerous one-upmanship duels.

Legend has it that after many drinks at the author’s Colorado home and after much arguing over who could out Houdini the other. Hunter tied Bill to a chair and threw him into the swimming pool, he nearly drowned before Hunter relented and pulled him out.

Bill immersed himself in Hunter so deeply that when Saturday Night Live started its fifth season, he was still in character.

The role overtook him, he had virtually become Hunter – complete with long black cigarette holder, dark glasses and bad habits.

His memory of shooting the film are a little sketchy. Bill recalls: “I rented a pad in L.A. with a guest house that Hunter lived in. I’d work all day and stay up all night with him, I was strong in those days and could take it.

“But I took on another persona and that was tough to shake. I still have Hunter in me, wanting to break out.”