From Edward Scissorhands to Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp is known for transforming himself for his roles. But for his latest film The Rum Diary, his mission was complicated by the fact that he was channeling his close friend, the late Hunter S. Thompson.
But the 48-year-old actor says he and Thompson (who wrote the book that the film is based on and whom he played a version of in the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) had something in common -- which made playing Thompson's semi-autobiographical character Paul Kemp a little easier.
"There were a lot of similarities between Hunter and I," Depp tells iVillage exclusively. "Hunter was from Louisville, Kentucky, I'm from Owensboro, Kentucky. It's something that's bred into you. It's kind of this chivalrous, Southern gentleman thing."
And the film (in theaters Oct. 28) is "most definitely" his tribute to the renegade writer, who passed away in 2005. "It was instigated by Hunter back in 1997," the actor says. "I rummaged around in some boxes and found the manuscript of The Rum Diary and he said, 'Let's produce this together, let's make a film together.' So for it to come to fruition after all these years brings a welcome closure to that."
Watch our exclusive video interview with Johnny Depp to find out why he initially did not want to play the lead role in the film and why he says he's "an actor with a lot of baggage."