The Cast of 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,' Then and Now

8:00 AM 5/22/2018

by Kalia Kornegay

The movie hit theaters in 1998.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Still - Photofest - H 2018
Courtesy of Photofest

Turning 20 this year is Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film, which was released May 22, 1998, is based on the novel of the same name by the founder of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. While it wasn't a commercial success, the film has built a cult following over the years.

The trippy movie follows Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) on a drug-induced road trip to Las Vegas for an article Duke is writing on the Mint 400 motorcycle race. Throughout their travels, they consume several hallucinogenic and psychoactive drugs, inciting chaos wherever they go.

In honor of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ 20th anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at what the film’s stars have been up over the years.

  • Johnny Depp

    Depp has certainly kept busy in the years since appearing as Fear and Loathing’s drugged-out journalist Raoul Duke. At the time of the pic's release, he was an up-and-coming actor fresh off the popular TV show 21 Jump Street (1987-90) and classic films like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He also made his first appearance in a Tim Burton film with 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, launching what has become a long-lasting collaborative friendship. After his role as Duke, Depp continued his rise in Hollywood, starring in Burton’s Sleepy Hollow as Ichabod Crane, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as Willie Wonka and Pirates of the Caribbean as Jack Sparrow, along with a Golden Globe-winning performance in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Next up, Depp is set to appear in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, due out Nov. 16.

  • Benicio del Toro

    Alongside Duke was his traveling companion and attorney Dr. Gonzo, played by Benicio del Toro. Gonzo kept pace with Raoul’s near-constant drug intake, which led him into many risky situations, even going so far as to abandon Duke at one point. Prior to del Toro’s stint as Gonzo, he appeared as Dario in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill, where he had the honor of being the youngest actor to ever play a Bond henchman. After his work in Fear and Loathing, del Toro went on to appear as Pablo Escobar in Escobar: Paradise Lost and as The Collector in the Marvel Universe, as well as showing up in Avengers and Thor, and, most recently, playing DJ in Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi.

  • Tobey Maguire

    Maguire plays a hitchhiker whom Duke and Gonzo pick up on the road to Las Vegas, but he quickly abandons ship after the duo’s drug-crazed states frighten him. The then-young actor had been working for about 10 years at the time of Fear and Loathing’s release, appearing in small TV roles alongside good friend Leonardo DiCaprio. In 2002, Maguire found fame as the hero Peter Parker in Spider-Man, and went on to star in the successful trilogy. Following that success, he later starred in The Great Gatsby as Nick Carraway and the narrator in The Boss Baby.

  • Ellen Barkin

    Barkin was fresh off of a 1997 Primetime Emmy win — for best lead actress in a miniseries or movie for her work on the telepic Before Women Had Wings — when she starred as a waitress in Fear and Loathing. Along with her Emmy, she won a Tony Award in 2011 for best featured actress in a play for her Broadway debut performance in The Normal Heart. Most recently, Barkin appeared in the film Active Adults.

  • Gary Busey

    Busey’s role as a highway patrolman who pulled over Duke during his travels was far from his first time onscreen. The actor has appeared in more than 150 films and various TV roles since the 1960s, with some of his biggest roles being in The Buddy Holly Story as Buddy Holly, for which he earned an Oscar nomination for best actor; Lethal Weapon; Point Break; the TV show Entourage; and Piranha 3DD. He also memorably competed on The Celebrity Apprentice and returned for an all-star edition.

  • Christina Ricci

    Fans most likely recognized Ricci from her breakout role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family or even through her teen roles as Kat in Casper and Roberta in Now and Then. Following Fear and Loathing, she received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress for her role in the indie film The Opposite of Sex. Ricci also reunited with Depp in Sleepy Hollow and later received an Emmy nomination for her appearance on Grey’s Anatomy in 2006.

  • Larry Cedar

    Prior to Cedar’s appearance as a stressed-out car rental agent in Fear and Loathing, he had been acting in a variety of film and TV roles since since the late 1970s. After the role, he starred on PBS’ critically acclaimed Square One TV, a children's mathematics show, and then played Leon on HBO’s Deadwood.

  • Katherine Helmond

    The veteran actress is probably best known for TV roles on shows like Soap and Who's the Boss? After playing a desk clerk in Fear and Loathing, she went on to recur on Everybody Loves Raymond and voice a role in the Cars animated film franchise.