Plus, meet the cinematographer behind ''Gladiator'' and ''Hannibal''

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
March 20, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Hunter S. Thompson: Walter Weissman/Globe Photos

MAIL BOXING Two months ago, author Hunter S. Thompson wrote a letter to Shooting Gallery president of production Holly Sorensen, expressing dismay that the development process for ”The Rum Diary,” based on Thompson’s first novel, was taking so long. ”Okay, you lazy bitch,” it began, a relatively warm salutation compared to the rest of the expletive laced memo. ”I have rounded up [Johnny] Depp,” who will star and produce, ”Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England named Michael Thomas?. What the hell do you think making a movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more? about yr. new Mercedes & yr. ski trips,” the gonzo legend fumed in one of the few passages we can quote.

”I’m feeling a little bit better,” Thompson says now, explaining, ”No one seems to have been grabbing the reins, so it might as well be me.” Adds Sorensen, who is currently negotiating with a screenwriter and hopes that ”Diary” can begin filming next winter, ”We’re friends. When you’re in a relationship with Hunter, this is like meeting for a cup of coffee at Starbucks.” As for Sorensen’s claim that she’s received other similar letters, Thompson responds, ”Oh, I don’t know about that. They’re not nearly as finely crafted as this one.”

FURTHERMORE If you’re looking for a good luck charm, you don’t have to shell out $20 million for Julia Roberts. Just hire cinematographer John Mathieson, who worked on the gigantic hits ”Gladiator” (for which he’s received an Oscar nomination) and ”Hannibal.” Success aside, Mathieson, who is currently filming ”K-PAX,” starring Kevin Spacey, has no desire to step out from behind the cameras. ”Directing actors,” he says, ”is just not for me.”