Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a 1998 cult film classic and is the movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel, entitled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. The film was directed by Terry Gilliam, and stars Johnny Depp (Raoul Duke) and Benicio del Toro (Dr. Gonzo) as the two lead characters. Other cast members include Gary Busey, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Ellen Barkin, Cameron Diaz, and Mark Harmon.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a fictionalized account of Hunter Thompson and lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta’s trips to Las Vegas in 1971. In the movie, journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo fly to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race, but the vacation becomes a total wreck as the two commit various fraudulent acts and consume copious amounts of drugs.
There have been numerous attempts to make a movie version of the classic novel, with the lead roles to be played by Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. Film directors Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone also tried to direct an adaptation, but were unsuccessful. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were reportedly also considered to play the role of the lead duo, but Thompson met Johnny Depp and was immediately convinced that only Depp could play the role of Raoul Duke.
Similarly, Terry Gilliam was not the first choice to direct the movie adaptation. Filmmaker Alex Cox was initially hired to direct the movie with Depp and Del Toro as the lead stars, but Cox had “creative differences” with Thompson as to how the novel will be translated into a movie. Terry Gilliam was subsequently hired to direct the film with Thompson’s approval. Ticket sales for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fell around $8 million below its budget, but became a cult classic mostly because of its DVD release, and partly precisely because it was not a mainstream hit. This movie poster is a staple wall decor for cult movie lovers and Johnny Depp fanatics alike.