A Quick Talk with Benicio Del Toro

 

Interview by Chris Dodds
Art by Joey Feldman

How familiar were you with Hunter and his relationship with Oscar before you started working on the film?

Just the fact that Oscar Acosta was in a picture with Hunter on the back cover of the first edition of the book and that he was not Samoan: he was Mexican-American.

Compared to other roles you had done up to that point, did you feel differently about this one? Was there any more emotion or excitement that came along with doing Fear and Loathing?

It was different because it was based on one of the classics of American literature of the 20th century, and its author, Hunter S. Thompson, was present. I think Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, myself and everyone involved in the film all wanted to do the best we could in order to honor Hunter and the great writing in his book.

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Could you tell us a bit about your process to become Dr. Gonzo? Did you do anything peculiar to get in Oscar’s state of being?

I met his sister and his son. I read two of his books: The Revolt of the Cockroach People and The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo. Both books give you a great example of who he was and about being Mexican-American in the ’60s and early ’70s. Last but not least, I talked to Hunter a lot about Oscar.

There must have been a lot of laughs on set. Can you share a fond moment or story with us from production?

When Hunter came to the set to do his cameo, that was a fun day. I remember him sitting in front of the mirror with a Sharpie drawing different kinds of mustaches on his face. Even though in the end he ended up not wearing a mustache it was pretty funny.

Looking back on Hunter’s political career, what do you think he would have to say about our current situation? Would you draw any parallels between today’s election and some of the past that Hunter covered?

I can’t put words in the mouth of a genius.

How do you like your ice water?

With ice.