You’ve been released from a federal prison four years ago, after serving 20 years of a 60 year sentence. It’s your 76th birthday. How to celebrate? You have a party at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood and screen the movie about your life of crime for a few hundred of your closest friends. Well, the closest friends might be a stretch, but that is exactly what George Jung did on Monday, August 6th. Some of the luminaries spent some time on a “white carpet” prior to entrance into the theater.
The 2001 film Blow chronicles the life of an average guy from Massachusetts, who became one of the most prolific cocaine smugglers in U.S. history. The film stars Johnny Depp, who portrays the anti-hero, Jung and Penelope Cruz. Blow was director Ted Demme’s last film, he would die less than a year after its release in early 2002. Demme set the film against a rock n’ roll backdrop from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Cream, Ram Jam, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others reflecting the era of the late 1960’s through the late 1970’s. The movie was inspired by Bruce Porter’s 1993 book Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All.
In a brief Question and Answer session prior to the screening, Jung relates how the film was proposed to him, “Denis Leary found the book when he was making a movie with Sandra Bullock in Canada. He read it and he read it to Ted, and he said I want to make a movie of this book, and I want to play this guy.” Some time later, Leary came to see Jung in prison. Jung continues, “He had a strange look on his face, and I said, what’s wrong Denis and he said, I’m not in the movie anymore, they want an A actor. We have this guy, his name is Johnny Depp, and I said, who the hell is that?” Jung tells about meeting Depp, “Johnny looked like he had slept overnight in a dumpster, and I said, what the hell has happened to you? And he said, I was up all night trying to figure out what to bring you.” Depp had brought a copy of On the Road by Jack Kerouac, which Jung had read as a freshman in college. He said to Depp, “I think we’re gonna get along OK.”
The mediator of the Q and A asserts that the primary theme of Jung’s life is heartbreak. Jung relates one of his biggest heart breaks. “I had a girlfriend who I was madly in love with, and love only happens, if you’re lucky, once in your life. I got busted in Chicago… I told her I’m gonna be gone a couple years, it’s a little sentence…she said, I’m not gonna be here when you get back.” She had a brain tumor and was dying. “We went on the run together, we were gonna leave the country. I felt that my love was keeping her alive. I wanted to say goodbye to my parents and my mother turned me in. Linda was already in San Francisco waiting for me. I called from the jail, three or four days later, and my friend who I had sent her to told me that she had died.” Heartbreak is a central theme of the film. including the heartbreak of his not having a relationship with his daughter.
Prior to the screening, attendees were given a glimpse into the upcoming, eight part docu-series, Boston George. The series will tell Jung’s story in a more truthful way without the Hollywood treatment. The series is being produced by Georgette Angelos and Chris Chesson. For those who like the film Blow, Boston George may reveal a more real and less admirable telling of Jung’s misadventures.
Event Photo Credit: Matt Quina
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