Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson by Alex Gibney

Director Gibney's Statement

Anyone thinking about directing a film about Hunter Thompson must keep two of the good doctors warnings in mind: 1) When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro; 2) Buy the ticket take the ride.

Well, nearly three years ago, when Roy Ackerman, Graydon Carter and Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente all suggested that I might take on the Dr. Thompson story, I was naively enthusiastic like a young schoolboy about to take his first hit of orange sunshine but I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for.

Now, I limp into Sundance with a ruptured disc, a green liver and spots in my eyes that wont disappear. My editor and collaborator, Alison Ellwood, has a broken leg and my ongoing associate producer Alexandra Johnes, is just recovering from a fever that shattered every thermometer that tried to measure it. Its not easy for mortals to reckon with the spirit of Gonzo.

Yet we have all survived and enjoyed every minute of the Doctors special treatment.

We had the run of the estate finding audiotapes, films, photographs, long forgotten drawings and even the 600 bars of Neutrogena soap from the Vegas trip. We talked to Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, George McGovern, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Wolfe, Jann Wenner and many more. We traveled from Atlanta to Woody Creek to Big Sur to Kent, England. We watched Anita, Thompsons widow and Juan, his son fire his guns. We pursued Johnny Depp over four continents, marveled at rare unseen drawings from Hunters great collaborator, Ralph Steadman and ingested hundreds of milligrams of Ibogaine, a strange Congolese hallucinogen.

But the most satisfying part of the journey was through the words of the man thousands of letters, his many articles, books and even unpublished manuscripts.

Thats what we brought back from our odyssey: a respect for why we all care about Hunter. He was a phenomenal writer who was funny as hell and who had a unique ability to embrace the central contradictions of the American character: an unquenchable idealism mixed with a vicious instinct for fear and loathing.

I cant say what it was that I directed in this film. It feels like I was the one who was directed in five directions at once by the spirit of the Hydra-headed Hunter. What I can promise viewers is that this will be a full immersion experience that will reflect what I went through with my team. At this point, Ive been going weird long enough to be considered a pro. Now its your turn: buy the ticket, take the ride.

Alex Gibney

Gibney is the director, writer, and producer of the new docu, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.” Gibney wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated film “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” His most recent film, “Taxi to the Dark Side” (ThinkFilm), a documentary murder mystery examining the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2008.

Gibney is now at work on two other films: For Participant Productions, Magnolia Pictures and Reason Pictures, he is directing and writing Casino Jack, a look at lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the selling of the American government. For Optimum Releasing and Thinkfilm, he is directing and producing Magic Bus, a time-travel immersion experience of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, on their infamous road-trip to the 1964 Worlds Fair. He is also working on two fiction projects: a film (part documentary, part fiction) of My Trip to Al Qaeda, a play by Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, and he is writing a script based on David Halberstams book, The Best and the Brightest.

Gibney has another film at Sundance this year — the dramatic feature Love Comes Lately, which he executive produced.

Other films by Gibney include: No End in Sight (Executive Producer); Mr. Untouchable (Producer), Who Killed the Electric Car (Consulting Producer); The Trials of Henry Kissinger (Writer/Producer); Herbie Hancock: Possibilities (Producer); Lightning in a Bottle (Producer); Wim Wenders` Soul of a Man (Producer) and Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues (Producer).