By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 4, 2011 at 4:15AM
Johnny Depp will take the money, thank you very much. “Basically, if they’re going to pay me the stupid money right now, I’m going to take it,” he tells Vanity Fair in their November issue. He's more flattered by compliments from Keith Richards on his singing in Sweeney Todd, and enjoys the "stimulation to the brain," but his paychecks (his Pirates franchise tally is in the $350 million range) are "for the kids" at this point. "It's ridiculous, yeah, yeah. But ultimately is it for me? No."
While Depp took a slight pay shave (along with director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer) to get would-be tentpole Lone Ranger made at Disney for $215 rather than $250 million (it should be half that to reasonably make its money back), he still has a nose for how to maintain his indie cred with such low-budget labors of love as The Rum Diary.
On the PA tour for his latest channeling of boozehound Hunter S. Thompson, Depp is participating in such high-end appearances as a Columbia University Journalism School panel (October 25) with Alex Gibney (Depp narrated his Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson) and New Journalism writer and Thompson crony Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) as well as kicking off Film Independent's LACMA film series October 13 with host Elvis Mitchell. FilmDistrict pitched the idea, knowing that Depp and Mitchell were old buds. Such starry relationships lured LACMA chief Michael Govan to give Mitchell that job. But what message is LACMA sending about its standards when they open their vaunted new series with a weak movie that has been sitting on the shelf for years and skipped major fall fests just to land a movie star?
See also: The Daily's Zach Brown revisits Thompson's 1971 "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Rolling Stone piece (as well as the town), chasing "Thompson’s ghost through crazy desert car races, a dying local economy and a massive and menacing hacker convention known as DEFCON." Here is parts one and two; three and four.