By Jeff Labrecque
October 28, 2011 at 09:00 PM EDT

The release of The Rum Diary, which opens today, has turned into the first real opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson since he died in 2005. Johnny Depp, who forged a bond with his fellow Kentuckian when he first tackled the gonzo writer’s world during the making of 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, used his current film’s promotional tour as a barnstorming tribute to Thompson, Rolling Stone‘s Jann Wenner wrote a fond remembrance to his most famous writer, and ESPN’s John Walsh talked about his old friend’s quirks on The BS Report Podcast.

But as always, the best celebration of Thompson are his own words. And if you don’t have his books in front of you, or he never wrote you a personal letter, at least you can listen to Johnny Depp read some of his own personal correspondences with the good doctor. In the clip below, Depp reads a 1996 letter from Thompson inviting him to a ceremony in Louisville where the mayor intends to present the author with the key to the city. “Can you get a Gulfstream 5 to get us to Louisville en masse?” asks the good doctor. 

Depp’s reading certainly enhances the entertainment value, but the real delight is the potent knots of words themselves. Thompson wrote the way he spoke, and there’s never been another person who could better deliver lines like, “We will need to drive a few public 20-inch nails into the right people at the right time in the right place.”

Thompson was man who would go to great lengths for his own personal sense of justice… even threatening some poor bastard with the journalism business. Enjoy.

Yes, there’s Part 2 and 3 if you need another dose of Hunter/Depp. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Read more:

EW Review: ‘The Rum Diary’

‘The Rum Diary’ trailer