West of 105 magazine issue 1, autumn 2018

Page 88



BOBBY K E N N E DY III MORE FREAK POWER IN THE ROCKY M O U N TA I N S Hunter S. Thompson remains, more than a dozen years after his death, a larger than life cult figure. Known for his unique journalistic style as much as his affection for discharging firearms in his home, Thompson is remembered by many through his work and works created from them, chief among them Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Thompson’s book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” The Thompson-derived body of work is about to get a new addition. Directorial debutant Bobby Kennedy III is currently in Silverton finalizing pre-production on “Freak Power,” a movie about Thompson’s run for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in 1970. We spoke to Kennedy about the film, who’s in it (and who definitely isn’t), what prompted him to make the movie and why the timing is right. 88

“I’m passionate about starting a third party in America,” Kennedy says as a lead up to explaining why he is making this movie at all. “I just really think that the two party system is broken.” “One of the best chances we ever had, at least in modern American history, to create a third party was Hunter and the Freak Power movement in Aspen. He tried to break the two party system and I think that’s the story I’m trying to tell. Hunter Thompson is almost like the bait on the hook, reeling people in to the more important story.” For those who have only heard about Thompson’s run for sheriff tangentially, it is a seemingly madcap attempt at political office that will come as no surprise to anyone who knows, or at least thinks they know, Thompson. (His manifesto included renaming Aspen Fat City to deter investors and ripping up the city streets with jackhammers and replacing them with sod.) Kennedy says Thompson knew all along what he was doing. “I think he was a very savvy political operator. It’s just like Trump. Sometimes you have to say some ridiculous stuff to get attention, but you know, [Thompson’s] platform was perfectly sensible in the end, it’s just the way he worded it was designed to get attention - both negative and positive.” In that election,Thompson won Aspen (the county seat of Pitkin County), but lost overall in the county “because the Democrats and Republicans teamed up and voted against him which showed you how [they] really are once you get past the superficial shouting at each other.” This isn’t a movie strictly about Hunter S. Thompson, but, Kennedy says, “we have some good outrageous stuff. I mean, Hunter Thompson is there but it is also grounded in a political thought piece,” he says. “But we’re going to go full Hunter for sure. I think we have more ridiculous stuff than Fear and Loathing, but not the whole time. When we go, we go hard.” So it isn’t a biopic. “It’s just about three months of his life. If you wanna make a story about a human you gotta limit the time frame because people are not the same every day. I think this was probably the moment in Hunter’s life that shows the most about his character.” As Thompson remains such a massive cult figure, Kennedy knows he might upset a few people, but he isn’t overly concerned. “Everybody has their Hunter story and everybody is protective over what they thought about him,” he says. “I’m not going to make everybody happy, I know that. People feel personal and feel ownership over his life in some ways. “[But] I’m not trying to make everybody happy, I’m just trying to make something that I think is important for today. So I’ve taken some liberties to make things more relevant for the current day. But I think if Hunter watched it, he would think that this is the best movie made about him.” As for research, Kennedy had an insider but for the most part he is creating his own story. “My dad and him exchanged


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