Filmmaker Tony Scott was all over the place in his recent interview with ComingSoon. Yesterday, we reported that he's officially called a "time out" on talk of the rumored "Alien" remake. He also revealed his plans for the coming "re-tooling" of "The Warriors," along with a bunch of other interesting tidbits.
The bit that really caught my eye was the revelation that Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning writer of "Traffic," is developing a script for an adaptation of Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson's seminal work, "Hell's Angels." It's a wild bit of non-fiction writing culled from a very specific moment in history.
Thompson essentially signed on as a de facto member of the notorious biker gang while conducting his research. The process of earning the gang's trust to the point that he let them hang around is a story unto itself. Thompson was always an outsider as far as the gang was concerned, but to varying degrees. The result in print is a marvelously up close and personal look at the violent yet surprisingly honor-driven lifestyle of the country's most notorious biker gang, a group which occupied a decidedly unique niche within '60s counter-culture.
Thompson's rascally voice is more reserved in "Angels" than what many know from his drug-addled trip to Sin City in "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas," which was itself adapted -- and very successfully -- for film by director Terry Gilliam. The author is less a perpetrator in the earlier work than he is an observer, letting the gang life unfold while he reports. There's occasional commentary as well, and it's equally fascinating to watch Thompson's evolution from wary outsider to sympathetic defender.
Gaghan is an interesting choice to write, almost as much as Tony Scott is to direct and/or produce. "Fear & Loathing" practically demanded Gilliam's maniacal touch. I'm not so sure I feel the same about "Angels" and its linkage with Scott/Gaghan, but I am excited nonetheless to see momentum carrying this project towards fruition.
Personally, I can only see Scott sticking to a producer's role for this one. As a director, he tends to deal in a very specific type of melodrama and spectacle. Thompson's "Hell's Angels" just doesn't seem like a project that Scott would deliver on. I'd be much better off with someone like Steven Soderbergh stepping in for this one.
"Hell's Angels" is a undoubtedly challenging adaptation, and I'm more interested in seeing it done right than anything else. Gaghan and Scott are talented filmmakers who both know their business. Here's hoping they play it straight and simply let the work speak for itself; there's too much "truth is stranger than fiction" to Thompson's experiences with the Angels lifestyle for anything less.
Have you ever read "Hell's Angels," or any of Thompson's other work? Are you excited by the idea of Gaghan and Scott taking on this project? Would you prefer to see it in another filmmaker's hands?