Five Minutes with ‘Rum Diary’ Star Amber Heard

Amber Heard (Jason Merritt/Getty)

Amber Heard has a young career most stars could only dream of.

The 25-year-old Texas native made her film debut in 2004 and has gone on to star opposite Hollywood heavy-hitters such as Nicolas Cage (“Drive Angry”), Demi Moore (“The Joneses”) and Billy Bob Thornton (“Friday Night Lights”).

Heard is currently starring in her biggest role to date, playing the love interest of both Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart in the film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel “The Rum Diary” (available now on XFINITY On Demand). The film follows a wandering, alcoholic journalist (Depp) who comes to Puerto Rico to work for a ramshackle newspaper, only to get swept up by a crooked land developer (Eckhart) and his fetching fiancé Chenault (Heard).

I sat down with Amber in Philadelphia to find out what it’s like working with Depp, taming Eckhart and being a bedazzled turtle.

David Onda: First, the cliché question: What attracted you to “The Rum Diary”?

Amber Heard:  In explaining what drew me to the project, I hear the absurdity of all the things I’m saying. There’s just too much. I was a fan of Hunter S. Thompson. I appreciate his individuality. I appreciate him as an artist, as an icon, as a novelist. The lead was Johnny Depp. He was also a close friend of Hunter S. Thompson and I believed that if anybody could understand and appreciate the subject material, it would be Johnny. And since they were friends, the integrity of the original art would be protected. So I had no reason not to do it.

Onda: Would you say that this film is a good way to introduce non-Hunter fans to his work?

Heard: Yes. Like a shrimp tempura for non sushi eaters, perhaps. It is. It’s different from his other work. Because it still has that same rebel spirit, but there’s a sweetness to it that comes from a genuine place and it’s a genuine, timeless mission that [Depp’s character] is on. It’s an old story; we’ve heard the story before. It’s a classic fight to find oneself in the world. A coming of age story, of course. It brings up old issues and brings up a long-existing duality in our society. Art versus commerce. Industry versus beauty. Love versus lust. Life versus death. These are common themes, so I think anybody would appreciate a story like this.

Onda: Johnny gets a reputation for being a very generous man. Did you witness that generosity at all while working with him?

Heard: Johnny’s a magnetic force on set and off set. He is incredibly generous and caring, grounded and people respect him. On the first day of working, I noticed the people that were catering – the people in the back that were working on the truck, that don’t even work on the front line – all smiled when he showed up. And he spoke to them all. He spoke to everybody and really invested in them as people. Everybody loved him and it’s for a reason.

Onda: Alcohol plays a big part in this film. What’s your poison?

Heard: Mine is red wine. Yeah.

Onda: Very classy!

Heard: Thank you. [Sarcastically] I’m a classy drunk.

Onda: You must have partaken in some rum while filming.

Heard: Yes! When in Rome. Or, when in Puerto Rico, rather.

Onda: Aaron Eckhart brings so much intensity to the characters he plays. He looks like a scary dude.

Heard: Yeah. He’s an intense person. I give him a hard time all the time. I got along with him really well and I like to call him out on his intensity. I like to have a good time when I can and I certainly did not let Aaron Eckhart escape my attempts to lighten the mood. And, after he finally gave in—I can be persistent when I want to—then we had a great time. We joked around on set, we smoked cigars and hung out. He’s really a fun person.

Onda: Where can I get a bedazzled turtle like the one in the movie?

Heard: Well … I recommend calling your local pet store. No, I’m kidding. What I like about that is that I kind of feel like my character was that bedazzled turtle.

Onda: Please elaborate.

Heard: I think that she’s like anything else in that movie. Men like Sanderson, played by Aaron Eckhart, seek to possess in life. The commodities that they own, that validate their place in the world, are things like that bedazzled turtle and the 1950s Corvette. And Chenault, when we meet her, is very much just like any other one of those trophy fiancées, like the Corvette or the turtle. But, of course, everything changes for her.

Onda: You’re a little faster than the turtle though.

Heard: Not in heels.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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