Johnny Depp's reputation is based on a mixed bag of legal controversies, allegations, and strangeness. It only makes sense that he would get along splendidly with Hunter S. Thompson, one of the most outrageous and hard-partying writers of all time. Thompson, perhaps most famous for writing the recreational-substance-fueled epic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, brought Depp under his wing and led him on a series of hair-raising adventures. The two of them shared a close bond that lasted until Thompson's passing in 2005.
Even after his demise, their story wasn't quite over. Thompson's service was a fiery event, funded by Depp, himself. Before that happened, though, a trip to Cuba, a homemade incendiary device, and a meeting in a Colorado tavern informed the close friendship between Depp and Thompson.
Depp loved Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a teenager, so when he got the opportunity to meet its author, he accepted. They first met in December 1994 at the Woody Creek Tavern in Aspen, CO. Depp sat in the back and waited for Thompson to arrive.
When Thompson came in, he shouted, "Out of my way, you b*stards!" Depp saw sparks flying as Thompson shoved the prod and a Taser toward the crowd, which quickly cleared his path to Depp.
Around 2:00 am on the night of their first meeting, Depp and Thompson returned to the author's Owl Farm home. Depp complimented a 12-gauge hanging on Thompson's wall. Thompson asked if Depp wanted to shoot it. When Depp said yes, Thompson declared, "Sh*t, man, we must build a [detonation device]!”
The two men assembled it out of propane tanks and nitroglycerine, and Depp fired from about 35 yards away. The entire thing went up in a giant, luminous spectacle.
Depp believes it was this "rite of passage" that cemented the pair's friendship.
As part of his last wishes, Thompson requested that his remains be blasted out of a 150-foot-tall cannon. Depp, who took responsibility for Thompson's services, decided it had to be taller than the 151-foot Statue of Liberty in tribute to Thompson's excess. The final 153-foot tall structure was shaped like Thompson's famous "Freak Power" logo.
Depp loaded it with gunpowder and fireworks, as well as Thompson's ashes. The whole event cost $3 million.
As Depp and Thompson became closer friends, Thompson allowed Depp to look through his old manuscripts and memorabilia. In the late '90s, Depp read a novella Thompson began in the early '60s called The Rum Diary.
The two of them became excited about the story; Thompson even wanted to skip publication and turn it into a movie. In the end, at Depp's urging, Thompson revised the novella and published it in 1998.