I know there was extensive research for this film, with the real-life people involved and the Beat generation. How was that process for you in playing Dean Moriarty, who’s based on Neal Cassady? I know you spoke to Neal Cassady’s son John.
Garrett Hedlund: Yeah. It was really important for me, the trip that Walter Salles and I took to San Francisco to meet with John, it was very beneficial because I’d went with a notepad full of questions. And you have Neal Cassady’s son there, for five hours. We also spent time with people like Michael McClure, beat writers who were very much within this realm. I also spent the day with Carolyn Cassady, who’s still going strong and has such a wonderful, vivid memory of who her husband was. Through their stories you got to understand a soul that’s maybe not portrayed as much in the book. John Cassady said, “Jack wrote this and Jack wrote that, but my dad was such a loving father.” He told us some great fun stories. He remembered riding with him in the car and Neal, his Dad, was smoking what he thought was a Camel cigarette, but it smelled a little bit funny (laughs). It was a wonderful thing having John around, with him and I becoming buddies. He was a wonderful sort of co-pilot for this adventure.
Other than reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road,’ was there any particular material from Neal Cassady that helped inform your performance?
Garrett Hedlund: Neal Cassady had written this book called ‘The First Third,’ which was very helpful because it’s kind of like his diary in a way. It gave so much of his self. You got to see this rare, visceral spirit. That was a big help. Plus with the Scroll version of ‘One The Road’ that came out after the books 50th anniversary, that was a wonderful help because it was sort of a raw version of the book. The one that came out was cut down in terms of censorship, but the scroll version was very honest. That was very helpful.
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