Jack Kerouac’s On the Road became an iconic novel to a restless group of young and disenfranchised when it was published in 1957, and close to half a century passed before it became a movie. Maybe it was a mad idea to try.
Kerouac himself wanted Marlon Brando to star in a film, though that was never to happen. Much later, Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights in 1979, but struggled for years to come up with a script. Attempts to get everyone from Brad Pitt to Billy Crudup to star led only to false starts.
It may seem a strange thing, the Beat Generation mixing with the Twilight generation, but without Kristen Stewart signing on to co-star as the teenage bride Marylou, this version of the story directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) may not have happened either.
See the trailer below …
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) stars as wandering soul Dean Moriarty (inspired by poet Neal Cassady), Stewart is his 16-year-old wife, and Sam Riley (Control) takes on the Kerouac role of Sal Paradise, who finds himself – and much more – while wandering the roads of America, listening to jazz, and pounding booze in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Kirsten Dunst, Terrence Howard, and Amy Adams co-star, with Viggo Mortensen turning up as the gun-slinging Old Bull Lee, inspired by Naked Lunch author (and real-life wife-shooter) William S. Burroughs.
“The only people that interest me are the mad ones,” goes that line of Riley’s narration in the trailer (which sounds eerily like Willem Dafoe, does it not?). “The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.”
Stewart was a major advocate for the movie, and before haters of the sparkly-vampire movies get up in arms, it’s worth remembering the impressive indie filmmaking career she has built for herself beyond Bella Swan, playing a not-quite-burned-out young prostitute in Welcome to the Rileys, a spot-on Joan Jett in The Runaways, and the girl of your 1980s dreams in Adventureland.
The people who interest her seem to be the mad ones, too.
Here’s hoping this trip On the Road is worth taking.