Film3Sixty talks to Garrett Hedlund about playing Dean Moriarty, aka Neal Cassady, the petty criminal, womaniser and manic muse of many of the Beat writers, in Walter Salles’s long-awaited adaptation of On the Road.

When did you first read On the Road?

Garrett Hedlund: At college. I read it for the first time because some girl was trashing it, and couldn’t believe that guys could behave this way. I was, ‘Oh yeah, of course they can!’

And more seriously?

GH: The Forties was such a conservative time. Morals and fashion were so strict that anybody who veered from that conservative and narrow road was looked on as an outcast. But that outcast was onto something. I think these guys led by example, a freer life, a life of unpredictability, never settling for a boring moment. They refused to walk like ghosts down the street. For me, Dean Moriarty was one of the wildest characters ever written.

Of course there was a downside. Cassady wasn’t a particularly reliable friend or husband.

GH: But Neal’s son John told me how he and his sisters loved their father and couldn’t wait for him to come home. It’s not the image we have of him, but John said Neal was always trying to provide for his family. Things just got in the way sometimes, like San Quentin.


He’s certainly a tragic figure, as well a romantic one.

GH: Neal was always writing, writing, and he kept his notebooks in a suitcase. One of the saddest days of Neal’s life was when this man who had stolen over 600 cars had his own car stolen, with this suitcase in the trunk. In Neal’s eyes, the whole story of his life had just been erased. John said he came back that day and was a different man.

Did you have any points of empathy with the guy?

GH: I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Our closest neighbours were a lot of old men, and my dad would go over there with a bottle of whisky and they’d sit together and bullshit. I’d sit there, observing the way that adults spoke, learning how to bullshit with them the way my dad would. I think Neal had this ability. He’d really been around the block, growing up in the hobo streets of Denver, in and out of juvenile hall, surviving. When you live like that, you get a sense about people, whether they’re rich or a bum, how you can understand and affect them, and sort of get what you want out of them. He would have been a phenomenal actor.

I gather you bought your own Hudson Hornet before the shoot.

GH: Yeah, I bought a ’53 Hudson. The one in the film is a ‘49. I just wanted to cruise around Los Angeles and get a feel for the car. I hadn’t got the title transferred when I was stopped by a traffic cop. I thought ‘Shit, here we go, just like Neal’, but he let me off and I just kept on cruising.

You spend a lot of time in the film with Sam Riley, who plays the Kerouac character Sal Paradise. How did you find the Brit?

GH: I thought he was so perfect for this. There wasn’t any characteristic that was false about Sam in terms of his bohemian abilities and tendencies. This guy smoked more cigarettes on this fucking film than anybody else.

Before On the Road, you starred with Jeff Bridges in Tron. Bridges could have played Moriarty once.

GH: I agree. He’s inspired by philosophy and literature, and spirituality, a little like the Beats. He’s one of my heroes.

Next up, you’ve got a part in the next Coen brothers film.

GH: It’s called Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s set in the Sixties and is inspired by an old folk singer named Dave Von Ronk, who mingled with Bob Dylan and others. My good buddy Oscar Isaac plays him. I’ve just got a small part, but it was a blast.

Source via @purplefair

On the Road interview with Garrett
Laura ReTweet
11 Oct, 2012



This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at 6:54 am and is filed under Articles, Garrett Update, Interviews, Media, Movies, On The Road. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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