The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary

Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart star in THE RUM DIARY, a film by Bruce Robinson. Picture courtesy FilmDistrict and GK Films. All rights reserved.

The Rum Diary (2011)

Opened: 10/28/2011 Wide

Angelika/NYC10/28/2011 - 11/24/201128 days
The Landmark10/28/2011 - 11/17/201121 days
AMC Loews Meth...10/28/2011 - 11/17/201121 days
Arclight/Holly...10/28/2011 - 11/16/201120 days
AMC Deer Valley10/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Georgetown 1410/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Embassy Cinema10/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Showcase Cinem...10/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Claremont 510/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Fallbrook 710/28/2011 - 11/10/201114 days
Village East11/25/2011 - 12/15/201121 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

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Genre: Drama

Rated: R for language, brief drug use and sexuality.


The Rum Diary tells the story of Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp), an itinerant journalist and full-time lush who travels down to Puerto Rico to write for The San Juan Star, a failing local newspaper run by its harried editor Mr. Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Settling into his job, Kemp meets Sala (Michael Rispoli), a talented, gone-to-seed photographer, and the two become drinking buddies and roommates while working on modest assignments for the paper.

One starry night, Kemp falls in lust at first sight with Chenault (Amber Heard), the incredibly sexy trophy-fiancee of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a corrupt businessman who lives the life of a king in his stunningly designed modern home by the sea. Sanderson realizes that Kemp could be useful to his business ventures and invites the journo to meet with his partners, who are planning to develop luxury hotels and condos on a completely unspoiled island off the coast. Sanderson asks Kemp to write favorably about their development in the paper, and Kemp is initially hesitant, fearing that the deal might be illegal. But after a wild night of drinking with Sala and an altercation with the local police, Kemp faces a lengthy jail sentence until Sanderson uses his influence to bail him out. Now that he's in this powerful man's debt, Kemp has no choice but to go along with the crooked proposal, and Sanderson sweetens the deal by lending him his car, a gorgeous red Corvette, and asking him to pick up Chenault. They take a dangerous drive around the island, and by the time they return, Kemp has become completely obsessed with her.

Kemp's ambivalence about his assignment deepens as Sanderson arranges a tour of the proposed development. The natural beauty of the location overwhelms Kemp, and he listens with growing anger as Sanderson's cronies discuss how to drive out the locals and turn the island into a resort destination. To improve his mood, Sala invites him to Carnival on the island of St. Thomas, where they meet up with Sanderson and a very drunk Chenault. The party moves to a sizzling-hot nightclub where Chenault's lascivious behavior on the dance floor leads to an altercation with the local men.

Kemp returns with Sala to his apartment in San Juan where they meet up with Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi), a wild man, over-the-edge local journalist for The San Juan Star whose life revolves exclusively around drugs and alcohol. Moberg introduces them to a powerful hallucinogenic drug and after a night filled with terrifying visions, Kemp sits down at his typewriter and hammers at the keys, ranting at the corruption and greed he sees all around him.

Kemp is all set to print his anti-Sanderson piece until Moberg tells him that Lotterman has shut down the newspaper. With the odds stacked against him, Kemp enlists Moberg and Sala to raise enough money to print one final issue of the paper so he can expose Sanderson's corruption and take the bastards down.

Production Overview

Based on the early novel by Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary tells the increasingly unhinged story of itinerant journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp). Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Kemp travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, The San Juan Star, run by downtrodden editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancee of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson, a businessman involved in shady property development deals, is one of a growing number of American entrepreneurs who are determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise in service of the wealthy. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessmen's financial benefit, or use them to take the bastards down.

Writer/director Bruce Robinson (Academy Award® nominated screenwriter of The Killing Fields, and director of the cult movie Withnail & I) directs from his screenplay based on the original novel by Thompson. The Rum Diary represents the debut film of Infinitum Nihil, the production company headed by Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski, together with Academy Award® Winner Graham King's production company GK Films. The film is being produced by Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, Anthony Rhulen, Robert Kravis, and Graham King.

Johnny Depp (Public Enemies, Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy), a three time Academy Award® nominee, portrays the itinerant journalist, Paul Kemp. Depp is joined by such fine contemporary performers as Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Thank You For Smoking) as Sanderson, Amber Heard (Pineapple Express, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) as Sanderson's sultry, temptress girlfriend Chenault, Michael Rispoli (Rounders, Summer of Sam) as Sala, Richard Jenkins, (Academy Award® nominee as Best Actor for The Visitor) as Kemp's downtrodden editor Lotterman, and Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan) as Moberg. The supporting cast includes Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man) as Zimburger, Amaury Nolasco (Transformers) as Segurra, and Marshall Bell (Capote) as Donovan.

Producer Graham King won a Best Picture Academy Award® for Martin Scorsese's ensemble crime thriller The Departed, which marked King's third collaboration with the director. He also produced the widely praised Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, and had earlier been an executive producer on the epic drama Gangs of New York. Under King's independent production company GK Films, King recently produced the thriller Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. In June 2009, King began production on Academy Award® Winner William Monahan's directorial debut, London Boulevard, starring Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell.

Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil, was formed in 2004 and enjoys a production deal with GK Films. The company has a busy slate of projects in development including Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton and produced with GK Films for Warner Bros. Pictures, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, also produced with GK Films for Warner Bros. Pictures and Attica, adapted by Linda Woolverton, to be directed by Sam Fell. The company also has several books it is developing and producing with GK Films, for Warner Bros. Pictures including Gregory Roberts' "Shantaram," Gordon Dahlquist's "The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters," and Tom Robbins' book, "Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates." Other projects in development include Nick Tosches' book "In the Hand of Dante," "Lord Whimsy's Affected Provincial's Companion," Joseph Gangemi's "Inamorata" adapted by the author, and journalist-author James Meek's "The People's Act of Love".

Bruce Robinson assembled a stellar behind-the-scenes creative team for The Rum Diary, including director of photography Dariusz Wolski (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Alice in Wonderland), production designer Chris Seagers (The Taking of Pelham 123, Deja Vu), nine time Academy Award® Nominee and two time Academy Award® winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Public Enemies, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sleepy Hollow), and casting director Denise Chamian (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy). Robinson reunites with his old friend Peter Kohn (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Body of Lies). Kohn was his first assistant director on Withnail and I and now serves as both first assistant director and co-producer. Executive producers are Tim Headington, William Shively, AJ Dix, Greg Shapiro, Patrick McCormick, and George Tobia. Peter Kohn acts as co-producer.

Production Notes

Fresh out of the Air Force and a stint as a copy boy at "Time Magazine," future Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson moved down to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1960, briefly worked at the soon-to-fold sporting magazine "El Sportivo," and unsuccessfully pursued a job at the "San Juan Star." The people he met and the experiences he had in Puerto Rico inspired him to write "The Rum Diary," which remained unpublished for decades. In the 1990s, Johnny Depp, Thompson's close friend, accidentally discovered the manuscript for "The Rum Diary" while visiting Thompson's house in Woody Creek. That same night they decided to publish the novel and adapt it into a film. Bruce Robinson, the director of Withnail and I, was brought out of retirement by Depp to write the script as well as direct the film. Their version of The Rum Diary is both a labor of love and a clear-eyed tribute to Thompson.

"I felt Hunter with me throughout the shoot," says Depp. "It was great to be close to him again, in that sense; it was great to have him around me. I knew what he would say in every circumstance. I just knew, because I knew him very well. If he'd seen the finished film, he'd be whooping. He'd be making those Hunter noises that anyone close to Hunter knew. They meant, 'Yes man, we've done it! Fantastic!' He would have been celebrating. Ultimately, the film is a celebration of Hunter, his language and his discovery of his voice. He'd be super happy, I'm sure."