AceShowbiz - Benicio Del Toro's drug addled role in "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" almost ruined his career as producers assumed he was battling real-life demons.
The 51-year-old actor played trippy lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta, aka Dr. Gonzo in the 1998 adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's famed semi-autobiographical novel about a journalistic assignment in Las Vegas gone awry.
To play the slobbish character he put on weight by eating sixteen doughnuts a day - and movie executives who met him to discuss projects assumed he was living badly.
"I gained weight stupidly in eight weeks," he tells The Guardian newspaper. "I didn't get a trainer. I did it macho style, stupid style. I gained the weight really quick and it took a while to take it off. So, during that time, in between work, I had meetings and people saw me and said: 'Oh my God, this guy went off the rails.'
"They hadn't seen the movie; they don't know what I'm doing. I could be walking to a 7-Eleven (convenience store) and some producer could be there saying: 'Was that Benicio Del Toro? I saw him last week - what happened to him?'"
He added that even after the film came out, producers still believed he had a drink and drug problem, as gossip had spread that his performance alongside Johnny Depp as the equally addled protagonist Raoul Duke, was a little too authentic.
"People in Hollywood can be as gullible as anywhere," he explained. "Just because they're in the world of make-believe, it doesn't mean they don't believe it. The fact is that, after I tried to get a couple of jobs, the feedback I got was that people didn't want to see me because 'We know he's got a drink problem, and we know he's got a drug problem'.
"And the only reason for that was because they had seen Fear and Loathing. Maybe it was a compliment," he added.
After starring in "Fear and Loathing", Benicio didn't appear in another film for two years - but happily his return, in Steve Soderbergh's 2000 drug war drama "Traffic", won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.