All it took to get Aaron Eckhart to sign on to “The Rum Diary” was the promise of going toe-to-toe with Johnny Depp – and, yeah, that tropical setting.
“I think the allure of something like this is working with Johnny and working with Hunter's material,” Eckhart tells PopcornBiz of his decision to join the cast of producer/star Depp’s film adaptation of novelist Hunter S. Thompson’s book. “It was a great opportunity, especially when you're sitting at home: 'Let's go to Puerto Rico and make a movie. It'll be six weeks. Don't worry about it.' That's easy to get through my mind.”
The actor opens up to PopcornBiz about his coursework in Thompson, Depp and Hollywood acting, as well as his horrific next film.
On Hunter Thompson 101:
"Years ago, it must have been when I was in college or something, the first article I ever read with Hunter was when he assigned to go to Hawaii to cover a marathon, of all things. And he accepted the job. And he never got outside of his hotel room. He just opened the minibar and just had a complete debaucherous time in the hotel room. Meanwhile, the marathon took place right outside his window. And then he just wrote what he saw and sent in the article and he was published."
On Johnny Depp 101:
"I learned how simple he is – how little he does for the effect that he gets on the screen, mostly. How he prepares and interprets a character. How he comes to set. How he makes his way through the day. What temperament he keeps. Always looking at people. It's not just Johnny. It's the same thing with Nicole [Kidman], or when I was working with Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman, Ian McKellen – whoever it is, always watching. I said to Morgan Freeman one time 'Morgan, how do you do it?' And he looked at me and he said, 'Forty years.' And so when I hear that I go, 'Oh, I haven't been doing it 40 years.' When you watch guys like this it kind of takes you off the hook, because you say, 'Oh, he didn't torture himself before the torture scene – He just went into the torture scene.' Johnny does this. I saw things that Johnny does to an effect that I sit there and analyze it afterwards and go, 'I see – Maybe I can do the same thing in a way. Make it my own.'"
On going from playing one classic character in “Pan” to another in "I, Frankenstein”:
"'Pan' got postponed, in which I was playing Captain James Hook. Peter Pan was abducting children and Captain Hook was on his tail, so it flipped Peter Pan on its end. And now I'm playing Frankenstein in a modern adaptation. It's sort of what happens after Victor Frankenstein builds his monster, about Frankenstein's life and the monster afterwards. And then there's a couple things I have after that actually that are super-interesting. Large character-scale. Like, serious stuff, which I'm looking forward to. Things that have the big action pieces and this sort of stuff, but you also never get away from doing the character stuff. Getting back to the acting. Always staying close to what's hot in the acting. That's the most important thing for me."
On whether he has a special affinity for revisiting classic icons:
"No, I think Hollywood's interested in that. I think everybody's so scared to make a movie these days that they're going into the grab bag. For example I just talked to a Japanese journalist yesterday and said something about Frankenstein and, obviously, the Japanese have a huge history with Frankenstein. So it's an automatic sell. I think it's less about us as actors and more about studios and independent producers saying, 'How can I make this movie?' It's so difficult to make a movie these days that they have to go with the sure thing."
"The Rum Diary" opens in theaters everywhere today