Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp

Why Johnny Depp Spent $5 Million To Launch Hunter S. Thompson’s Ashes Into The Stratosphere [Opinion]

Johnny Depp took a lot of criticism for spending millions of dollars to fulfill the last wishes of the Late Hunter S. Thompson, by having a special cannon built to launch Hunter’s ashes into the stratosphere, but those people who criticize have no idea who Mr. Thompson was, or what he meant to Johnny.

Johnny Depp offers no apologies or excuses for spending a few million on Hunter S. Thompson’s final tribute. Instead, he confessed eagerly to spending more. The initial report from TMG, his former management group, who released Johnny’s financial information to the press, reported that Johnny Depp spent $3 million on Hunter S. Thompson’s big send off.

Johnny Depp corrected them, explaining that he actually spent $5 million on Hunter S. Thompson’s rather unorthodox funeral. Further, Depp gave an undisclosed amount of money to Hunter S. Thompson’s widow in exchange for Mr. Thompson’s notes, which Johnny Depp donated to be safely preserved.

As Johnny Depp reportedly pointed out, it was his own money and he could spend it as he pleased. A spokesman for Mr. Depp told the Evening Standard that Johnny Depp’s spending was hardly the issue.

“How cataloging alleged spending by Mr. Depp of his own money could somehow absolve the defendants of a large and multi-faceted mosaic of wrongdoing will ultimately be determined by the court.”

Johnny Depp chose to honor Hunter S. Thompson by giving him his final wish. Hunter Thompson was a legend, a hero, and an icon to Johnny Depp. Mr. Thompson was a genius, and a great man, who accomplished quite a bit in his life, and Depp counted him among his dearest friends.

Johnny Depp loved Hunter S. Thompson as a friend, teacher, and adviser. Johnny Depp read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a teen, according to Rolling Stone, and admired Hunter greatly from then on. Mr. Thompson was part of a dying breed of reporters who credibly exposed wrongdoing in high places. He dared to fearlessly poke fun at, and even ridicule, those in power.

Johnny Depp met Hunter S. Thompson when Depp was preparing to portray Thompson in the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Johnny Depp told Rolling Stone that he asked to spend a lot of time with Mr. Thompson.

“I said, ‘I need to spend time with you, and when you get sick of me being there, just tell me and I’ll f**king leave,’ I told him that I’d probably become a f**king pain in the a**, because I’d be asking him a lot of questions and taping the conversations and writing things down, and it’d be like I was a f**king parole officer. But he never kicked me out, which was good.”

Far from annoyed by Johnny Depp’s presence. Hunter S. Thompson put Johnny to work immediately editing and classifying letters that would be included in the book, The Proud Highway, the first volume of Thompson’s correspondence.

Johnny Depp went through many of Hunter’s notes, possessions, and even his wardrobe from the time, trying to get a feel for who this amazing reporter was. He also conversed with Mr. Thompson at length and tried to memorize his mannerisms and posture.

Johnny Depp portrayed a character based on Hunter S. Thompson in the movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which chronicled a wild weekend in Las Vegas.

Terry Gilliam quoted Hunter S. Thompson in Rolling Stone, who was explaining this wasn’t like every day for Hunter; this was a weekend.

“You’ve got to remember: We were serious people. I was a serious journalist, he was a serious lawyer. And this book was only one weekend.”

Johnny Depp knew well that there was a lot more to Hunter S. Thompson than the drug-addled gonzo reporter chronicled in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hunter S. Thompson was a prolific writer, turning in countless articles and numerous books throughout his career. As Depp read Hunter’s notes, often written long hand in those days, he was awed by Hunter’s amazing skills as a writer.

Johnny Depp still looking great
Johnny Depp still looking great [Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]

Johnny Depp devoured Hunter S. Thompson’s notes, finding edited-out tidbits even Hunter dared not put in print. The two stayed up all night talking nearly every night for weeks at a time, as Johnny Depp slowly absorbed Hunter S. Thompson’s very heart and soul, learning the man as an avid fan, and devoted student.

Hunter S. Thompson readers must first understand the difference in the times. The 1960s and 1970s were a fantastic time for inner exploration, what the current century is to technology, but there was very little technology compared to today. People questioned ideas like materialism, and the materialism of today is exactly what the armchair philosophers of the 1960s warned of.

When Johnny Depp was in his formative childhood years, and Hunter S. Thompson was a young writer, the spiritual, emotional, and societal principles such as ethics, kindness, and honesty in journalism, now largely put aside were highly valued, while the social norms valued now were not valued at all. The things important then have been largely forgotten in favor of consumerism and material acquisition.

Johnny Depp looking hot at th Pirates of the Caribbean 5 premiere May 18 by
Johnny Depp looking hot at the Pirates of the Caribbean 5 premiere May 18 [Image by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP’]

Hunter S. Thompson made it clear that he felt his greatest purpose in life was to fight corruption in government. A noble cause to be sure. He considers himself a big player in the Nixon drama and considers Nixon’s resignation a personal victory. Hunter is quoted in an interview in the Atlantic.

“Successful. I don’t need any prizes or parties to shore up my self-esteem. When I see Nixon getting on a plane, then I’m there. And he’s headed west and I’m not. Yeah. That might have been the peak of effectiveness.”

Johnny Depp, like most true children of the 1960s, doesn’t necessarily esteem money as the most important thing. People are tremendously important, especially good friends, and most especially, brilliant, creative and amazing people like Hunter S. Thompson.

Johnny Depp can and will make more money, which he will likely spend in ways that help people, honor people, and create jobs for people. But, Johnny will not ever find another friend like Hunter S. Thompson whom he came to love and admire in exactly the same way. Hunter was one of a kind and there is no one since who has filled his shoes.

At one point, Hunter. S. Thompson, anxious about Johnny Depp’s portrayal of him, sent this message to Johnny Depp.

“Okay – go ahead and make an a** of me on the screen – your turn will come + history will not absolve you. Beware.”

Later, Hunter S. Thompson messaged a contrite and apologetic Johnny Depp, who had humbly explained he had no intention of making Thompson look silly.

“Cheer up. I was just answering yr. question(s) about the wardrobe. Yr. real fears are still to come.”

While Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson absolved their differences quickly, Hunter was prophetically correct. The bland societal norms of the millennium have come down hard on Johnny, as the less than deep thinkers harass his creative genius based on shallow values.


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Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson may not be honored by history, but no one will ever quite forget them either.

[Image by Frazier Harrison/Getty Images and Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]

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