On the road to movie magic: Walter Salles, Garrett Hedlund team up to bring Kerouac to life

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Director Salles faced his own long journey to film the classic novel, but actor Hedlund immediately nailed the audition for the role of Dean Moriarty

How do you turn an iconic American novel that defined the entire postwar Beat Generation into a movie?

According to director Walter Salles and actor Garrett Hedlund, who joined forces to turn Jack Kerouac’s classic 1957 tome “On the Road” into movie magic, you submerge yourself so deeply in the book that you actually relive the plot.

Which is how Salles, 56, and Hedlund, 28, end up nibbling on chicken nachos at a table in the back of the White Horse Tavern in the West Village, a favorite watering hole for Kerouac, recounting the long, strange journey of “On the Road” from book to movie screen, where it premiered on Friday.

“ ‘On the Road’ has been 55 years in the making,” says Salles, a Brazilian who also directed “The Motorcycle Diaries.” “That’s when Kerouac first wrote to Marlon Brando to see if he would play Dean Moriarty. Of course, my version has only been eight years in the making, but those were a long eight years.”

After being asked by Francis Ford Coppola’s production company to make the film in 2004, Salles spent five years “drifting across America trying to follow the paths of Kerouac and meeting the real life people who influenced the characters in this book.” His journey led to the creation of the documentary “Searching for On the Road.”

Just as hard as capturing the feel of Kerouac’s classic was finding the right actor to play Dean Moriarty, the novel’s energetic protagonist who at one time or another was to be played by such Hollywood luminaries as Brando, Brad Pitt and Colin Farrell.

Enter Hedlund, an up-and-coming Hollywood star whose movie credits include “Tron: Legacy,” “Country Strong” and “Troy.”

For his initial casting call in 2007, Hedlund took his own road trip, driving from his father’s farm in Minnesota to the small theater in Los Angeles.

“Instead of rehearsing the scenes over and over in the car, I figured I’d just write my journey,” he says. “These were my thoughts about life and journeys and women and jazz and adventures and sadness.”

Hedlund’s gamble paid off.

Salles remembers “complete silence and electricity in the air when he finished reading his two scenes. Then he asked to read what he had written during his journey to California. It was so similar to what we knew from the Dean Moriarty letters that we were convinced that Dean had returned.”

The only person in the room who wasn’t convinced was Hedlund, who empathized more with the story’s other protagonist, Sal Paradise, played by Sam Riley.

“He’s alone in foreign places analyzing and writing about what he sees and I can relate to that,” says Hedlund, who stars in the movie alongside Kristen Stewart. “I never thought I was as expressive as Dean or had as much knowledge of life as him. I mean, the guy stole more than 500 cars before he was 15.”

But, while he might not admit it at first, Hedlund did relate to certain aspects of the fictional Moriarty, even the youthful delinquency.

“Dean and I both grew up bored, without a parent, in the Midwest and that led to trouble,” Hedlund says. “As they say, idle hands are the Devil’s playground. I think I was arrested four times before I was 15. I’d break into gas stations, steal cigarettes and sell them on the school bus for two bucks a pop.”

Ultimately, Salles chose Hedlund to play Moriarty not only because of similarities in their lives but also because of his willingness to explore.

“This is an ode to youth, freedom and the creative process,” says Salles. “There is no substitute for experience. Kerouac’s most beautiful legacy is to invite you to experiment and have your own ideas and become an individual, not just one more guy who presses a button.”

Source via Megan

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Newspaper picture Source

Laura
29 Dec, 2012



This entry was posted on Saturday, December 29th, 2012 at 10:50 pm and is filed under Articles, 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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