See the Cast of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ Then and Now
Released in 1998 and based on Hunter S. Thompson’s classic novel of the same name, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ starred Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke, a journalist traveling to Las Vegas on a drug-fueled trip with his friend Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) to cover a motorcycle race. Inspired by Thompson’s real-life exploits and directed by Terry Gilliam, the film, which attracted divisive reactions at the time of its release, has become a cult classic and earned a coveted place in the Criterion collection. 16 years later, we revisit the cast of the film and see what they’re up to now.
Johnny Depp, Raoul Duke
Then: When Johnny Depp met with Hunter S. Thompson, Thompson was convinced no one else could play the role based on the author himself. Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, and John Malkovich had been considered while the long-gestating project was in various stages of development, but the actors all grew too old for the part over time. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were also considered, but Belushi passed away, and then Thompson met Depp and the rest was history.
Now: Depp is, of course, a major Hollywood star, and has collaborated many times with Tim Burton on films like ‘Sweeney Todd,’ ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and more recently on ‘Dark Shadows.’ He’s also the star of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise and recently appeared in ‘The Lone Ranger.’ He can be seen next in ‘Transcendence,’ the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s longtime director of photography.
Benicio Del Toro, Dr. Gonzo
Then: Benicio Del Toro played Dr. Gonzo, Raoul’s friend and lawyer who is based on Thompson’s real-life friend and lawyer, Oscar Zeta Acosta, who is said to have disappeared and likely died sometime in 1974. Del Toro gained approximately 40 pounds for the role.
Now: Del Toro is known for roles in films like ‘Traffic,’ ‘Snatch,’ ‘Sin City,’ and ‘Che.’ His recent film credits include parts in ‘The Wolfman’ and ‘Savages,’ and a cameo in Sofia Coppola’s ‘Somewhere’ as himself. He can be seen next in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice,’ and in Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ as Taneleer Tivan, also known as “The Collector.” The character was teased in a post-credits sequence in ‘Thor: The Dark World.’
Tobey Maguire, The Hitchhiker
Then: Tobey Maguire was still an up and coming star in 1998 when he was cast as the unnamed hitchhiker picked up by Raoul and Dr. Gonzo en route to Vegas in ‘Fear and Loathing.’ He had previously appeared in the films ‘The Wizard’ and ‘The Ice Storm.’ That same year he starred in ‘Pleasantville,’ giving him his first big breakout role.
Now: Maguire exploded after that and went on to star in Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy of films, as well as ‘Seabiscuit,’ ‘The Good German,’ and ‘Brothers.’ He can be seen next alongside Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in Jason Reitman’s ‘Labor Day,’ and with Kristen Wiig in the upcoming IFC miniseries ‘The Spoils of Babylon,’ produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Gary Busey, Highway Patrolman
Then: Gary Busey, known for roles in ‘Lethal Weapon,’ ‘Point Break,’ and ‘Under Siege,’ played the role of the highway patrolman who pulls Raoul and Dr. Gonzo over on their way to Vegas. Busey actually improvised the “Give me a kiss line,” which horrified Hunter S. Thompson, but director Terry Gilliam thought it was hilarious and decided to leave it in.
Now: Busey was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1988, which caused brain damage that has led to some of his more outlandish behavior, as revealed on the 2008 season of ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.’ Busey has also appeared on two seasons of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ and on episodes of ‘Two and a Half Men’ and the short-lived series ‘Mr. Box Office.’ Busey’s recent film credits include roles in ‘Piranha 3DD’ and ‘Bounty Killer.’
Christina Ricci, Lucy
Then: Christina Ricci played Lucy, a young girl Gonzo brings to the hotel. Previously, Ricci was known for her roles as a child actress, starring in the ‘Addams Family’ films and ‘Now and Then,’ and she had appeared in ‘The Ice Storm’ with ‘Fear and Loathing’ co-star Tobey Maguire.
Now: Ricci reunited with Depp for Tim Burton’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ the following year. She began taking more adult roles, appearing in films like ‘Prozac Nation,’ ‘Black Snake Moan,’ and ‘Monster.’ Recently she appeared in the films ‘Bel Ami’ with Robert Pattinson and provided the voice of Vexy in ‘The Smurfs 2.’ She guest-starred on an episode of ‘The Good Wife,’ and portrays notorious murderer Lizzie Borden in the upcoming Lifetime movie ‘Lizzie Borden Took an Ax.’
Cameron Diaz, Blonde TV Reporter
Then: Cameron Diaz, known for roles in ‘The Mask’ and ‘Feeling Minnesota,’ had a small supporting role as a blonde television reporter whom Raoul meets at the hotel in Las Vegas.
Now: Diaz went on to appear in the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ films, ‘Vanilla Sky,’ ‘Gangs of New York,’ and lent her voice to the ‘Shrek’ films as Princess Fiona. Recently, she’s starred in ‘The Green Hornet,’ ‘Bad Teacher,’ and with Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in ‘The Counselor.’ She can be seen next with Leslie Mann in the women’s revenge comedy ‘The Other Woman,’ and as Miss Hannigan in the new film adaptation of the classic musical ‘Annie.’
Craig Bierko, Lacerda
Then: Craig Bierko played Lacerda, a photographer assigned to work with Raoul and cover the motorcycle races. Bierko had previously starred in the films ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ and ‘Sour Grapes.’
Now: Bierko went on to find success on television shows like ‘Damages,’ ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘Necessary Roughness,’ and the recent series ‘Body of Proof.’ He has also appeared in the films ‘For Your Consideration,’ ‘The Change Up,’ and ‘The Three Stooges.’
Christopher Meloni, Sven
Then: Christopher Meloni played Sven, the Flamingo Hotel’s desk clerk. Meloni had just begun starring on the HBO drama series ‘Oz’ in 1998, and it would be another year until he was cast in his most memorable role to date: as Detective Eliot Stabler on ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.’
Now: Meloni starred on ‘Oz’ until 2003, and on ‘SVU’ until 2011. Along the way, he starred in the films ‘Wet Hot American Summer,’ ‘Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,’ and John Krasinski’s directorial debut ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.’ He recently had a recurring role on ‘True Blood’ and appeared in the major films ‘Man of Steel’ and ’42.’ Next, you can catch him in the films ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,’ and in the rom-com satire ‘They Came Together,’ which reunites him with ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ director David Wain and previous co-stars like Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd.