Two articles and a great review.
The first one is from CraveOnline:
The Curse of Experience: Garrett Hedlund on ‘On the Road’
If the movie On the Road is your first introduction to the works of Jack Kerouac, you might want a little background. Dean Moriarty, the character Garrett Hedlund plays, was actually based on Neal Cassady. Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a stand-in for Kerouac himself, follows Dean for inspiration for his next book. In the course of many spontaneous travels, Sal would witness Dean’s romances with Marylou (Kristen Stewart) and Camille (Kirsten Dunst), both based on real women, with the latter of whom Dean/Neal had children. They also did lots of drugs. We got to chat with Hedlund after the film’s AFI Fest screening about some of Dean Moriarty’s striking moments on film, and throw in a Tron 3 question at the end.
CraveOnline: To my personality, Dean is not seductive. I see the value in staying put and I think that’s something Sal realizes by the end. Do people take a different amount of time to get to where Sal does, where you’re not seduced by going all over the place all the time?
Garrett Hedlund: I guess that’s kind of the curse of experience, I’ve always found. The more we’ve journeyed around and experienced different adventures and stuff, we only allow ourselves to say no more often because we know what the end result’s going to be. Then some still have boundaries from coast to coast and really don’t mind replicating a moment, an adventure. You’ll come to find that the end result’s always going to be different so that’s what makes saying yes a little more colorful. Do you mean in terms of not having the wonders at the beginning of the book like this one does, the yearning to get out and experience and be in the company of all these crazy cats because you feel that you’ve been there and you can do without it right now?
Yes. I know where Dean’s going and I want to go somewhere else. But the follow up is can you have a free spirit without leaving people behind, or is that just a consequence of the lifestyle?
Well, no, I don’t think all paths have to be similar when it comes to free spirit. You can be a free spirit for your whole life with the same six people in a cargo van. It’s just going to be a different route and different road. Within this, I think it starts off with Sal sort of struggling with just having finished The Town and the City really and thinking about a new book. When he encounters Dean there’s such, I think, a lightbulb that goes off in his head to where he thinks he might have the source of something much more interesting and brave than anybody’s seen, so why not document it as fast as I can in sort of a spontaneous, communicative way, down to the last detail? I think if I were to meet somebody like Dean, just with how much I like to just recreationally write or document things that I’m experiencing in my everyday life, that I would definitely follow this cat around because anything you account for which is coming out of his mouth is some wonderful story of some spinning of factual knowledge about this and that or race cars, or this and that about the Hudsons, or this and that about jazz and who’s the alto tenor, the differences between eastern jazz to western jazz and this is all because he knew it all. I think Sal wanted to stick around this guy. First off, has he found his long lost brother just after his father passes and he’s also found somebody that’s in the search for a lost father. Sal knows how to write. Dean wants to know how to write and they could really help each other. At the end of the day, they began to love each other so much to where the other one didn’t know. Sal felt his love was responsible for their brotherhood. Dean felt his love for Sal was responsible for their brotherhood but neither of them knew exactly how much the other loved the other.
One of the most powerful scenes for me is when Dean invites Camille (Kirsten Dunst) out and obviously she can’t go out with their baby. Was that a difficult scene to perform?
Well, my buddy was asking about that scene before because before these scenes, Kirsten and I had just met. This was at the very end of our shoot. She shot with us for the last four days of principal photography. All the scenes with her were our last four days
Her entire role, good times and bad?
Bad times to bad and bad times to good. Each high or low point within the story had its benefits but those scenes were emotional just because I’d already, say, met John Cassady, Neal’s son and I knew how much his children had loved him. John always wanted to say Jack can make him out to look like a real jerk once in a while but that’s Jack and his imagination. They really wanted me to show how loving their father could be once in a while and that he did have a soul and conscience. They would wait at home for their dad to come home and he would put out his bicep and all three of the kids would throw their arms on it and see who could hold on the longest while he raised up his arm. They loved their father, so to have to leave Joannie in the crib and that stuff, it affects you because you knew who it affected by having met some of the real life people.
Do you think Dean knows it’s an empty invitation in that scene?
I mean, yeah, but he was after Camille for respectability. She was such an accomplished woman, so strong, I think it kind of kept him in line once in a while. So I think he definitely knew that any moment could have been an open invitation to sort of never come back, but their undeniable love for each other is what made them be together for many, many years after that. Even through when she began to be with Jack Kerouac. Neal was always still around.
There are so many lovely vignettes in the movie where we see how each one impacts the characters. Filming which segment made the most impact on you?
I think the very end sequence in the city where Dean’s come back to Sal, because it was really at the end of our production as well. You start to think about all the years you’ve been working on getting this film made and wondering if it ever will, to meeting Sam in New York for the first time and knowing that he would be my brother for life and still wondering if we’re ever going to get this film made, and then filming it and doing all the research and rehearsals and all the jazz hours we’ve listened to in the hotel rooms together and all the beers and ciggys we drank and smoked alone in the middle of nowhere at night. All those months of production and our times alone in Mexico and times in blizzards in Chile and ‘Frisco and New Orleans, driving through the bayous and Arizona desert, all that flashes before your eyes right before you do that scene which is really I think what helped make it emotional, at least for me. Let alone it begin the coldest night that Montreal had had within 2010 and I didn’t walk inside whatsoever that night, so I definitely had some frostbite.
You were still on the set of this movie when Tron: Legacy came out. What sort of things happened for you when that came out, and have you seen the script for Tron 3 yet?
That’s one thing that was probably the hardest for me over the production of this. We were going nonstop during the weeks and then all of my weekends were to do press junkets for Tron and for Country Strong. I remember on Saturdays and Sundays in Montreal having to do 57 five to 10 minute interviews each day and lasting eight to nine hours. Then you get a little bit of rest and you wake back up sort of just shot, going straight back to a job that’s already demanding. So yeah, those were long days but I don’t know. I haven’t read the new script but I know the story of it and I think they’re just waiting to figure out the right time. Kosinski’s off. Anything I think Joe does takes about three to four years of his time, so we’ll see. We’ll see where the stars align.
Garrett Hedlund Really, Really Loves The Character He Plays In ‘On The Road’
Charismatic, easy on the eyes and exuding charm, actor Garrett Hedlund magnifies many of the hypnotic traits of the the person he plays in Walter Salles’ On the Road. Magnetic, intelligent and a wild side that became the inspiration and fascination of Beat author Jack Kerouac, the adventures and misadventures Neal Cassady inspired became a pivotal nucleus for the novel On the Road, considered one of the most important works of literature in post-war era America.
Neal Cassady also had a dark side in the form of booze, drugs, many women and even dabbling in other sexual dalliances unspoken about in the conservative mores of the period. Talking about On the Road and the real-life characters behind it involves the necessity of a roadmap itself since Kerouac changed their names. In the film, directed by Walter Salles, Hedlund plays the book’s Dean Moriarty, aka Neal Cassady, while Kerouac assigned himself the name Sal Paradise. Kristen Stewart stars as Marylou (LuAnne Henderson), the former wife and frequent lover of Dean, while Kirsten Dunst plays Camille (Carolyn Cassady), the second wife and mother of Dean’s children.
Shot over 100,000 kilometers and with years of research heading into the project, the film based on the Beat Generation bible finally made good on numerous failed adaptation attempts in the past. The pic features Sam Riley (Control) as Sal, who falls under the spell of the intoxicating Dean Moriarty, who himself chases around America for freedom and the elusive “It.” Sal, Dean and sometimes Marylou and others travel around the country indulging in drink, drugs, sex, fast driving and the whims of a youthfulness hellbent on not conforming to post-WWII America.
While their behavior may still shock some now, it would have been next to impossible to produce decades ago. Indeed Francis Ford Coppola picked up the rights to the book way back in 1979 and it took another few decades for him to hand it to Walter Salles to direct. Many reasons ultimately delayed the movie version of On the Road, but sex and booze on the big screen were most certainly no-gos in the ’50s and Hedlund’s character Dean embraced vice as a simple by-product of life.
Garrett Hedlund spoke with ML about Neal Cassady/Dean Moriarty and On the Road taking pains to care for a character he clearly admires. He talks about his own experience getting to know On the Road, Dean’s complicated, unconventional relationship with Marylou and what he hopes newcomers to the novel will discover after seeing the movie.
On the Road novel is often characterized as a cultural watershed moment though the real people and lives depicted in the book, of course, didn’t realize that at the time. How do you look at it as someone who grew up a few generations later?
I think it’s built up bigger and bigger over the years. The Beat Generation – that term is even more familiar now, even more than say the ’70s. Hype is built and established and people link it back to a certain generation, in this case the ’40s and ’50s. Now everyone knows that that group was the Beat Generation.
At the time though, that was something Kerouac described [in passing] and it was then that a fellow put the [label] on it and said, ‘this is what we’re going through now’. But Kerouac was just drunk in a bar when he first said [Beat Generation]. It’s everything from the jazz and the music to the beat and he’d even write to a beat. His method of typing on a typewriter almost simulated someone playing the keys on a saxophone.
These guys were all great minds and thinking alike and writing in the style of their communication. So with these guys, Ginsberg and Kerouac and others, their thoughts were conveyed onto paper and it was just about getting it out at the pace of their thoughts and forget about format.
In the present time you don’t really establish what you’re going through, but after time it’s declared something. Right now there could be some writers doing something expressing their thoughts in a whole different style that we’re not aware of. This could be the “in-between the notes generation…” But the Beats were just a new era coming out of swing that was identified in a post war, conservative era. They went the opposite way on what was a one-way street.
How familiar were you with On the Road and how did you come to play Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady)?
I read the book at a young age and then looked up more about it and saw that Francis Ford Coppola was to direct it and I thought, ‘awe man, the director of The God Father, Apocalypse Now,’ but I was 17 and living in Arizona at the time, then I moved to L.A. and got some success in films and then a few years later I met Walter [Salles]. When you read the book as an aspiring writer and going through the desire to engage in creative writing, world literature and journalism, I was grabbing every book I could to study different styles between F. Scott Fitzgerald and how he was brought up and wrote and J.D. Salinger and how he was brought up and wrote and becoming a recluse.
Then I was introduced to Kerouac and became familiar with this whole spontaneous prose. [Kerouac’s] The Town in the City which, was really inspired by Neal Cassady, was so inspired by this style of writing in which you just capture your thought and that inspired his style for On the Road.
The way he captured Neal/Dean shows how magnetic he is. He’s infectious and the ladies just love him and guys just want to be around him. His intellect and memory was astounding. People [who knew them] would recall that Kerouac was the one with the great memory but then some would say he was the one with the note pad. Neal could rap off all kinds of statistics and observations and ideas about the world he was in. Neal also aspired to be a writer but was also the guy with all the mischievousness, stealing all kinds of cars before he was even 15.
Neal/Dean was such a charismatic personality as you say. Sal/Jack wanted to be around him. Marylou, his ex-wife and sometimes lover, stayed with him throughout his life and he had a knack for charming a crowd. How did he manage to carry that and how did you capture that for the film?
The guy had a wonderful wild side. That wild side had less boundaries than most people have within themselves and an openness that is more accepting than most people would allow themselves. In the book, he monologues on about knowing America and its people and it comes from all the experiences of all those rambunctious years.
How would you describe the relationship between Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, a.k.a. Dean and Sal?
Dean and Sal were brothers who didn’t know which of them was responsible for the love in their relationship. Neal’s wife, Carolyn [Cassady], was quoted saying that neither of them knew how much the other one loved the other. Each thought they were the one giving that love and they never knew how the other felt. In a way they were so complimentary as well. They both lost their fathers and needed somebody. Having someone like Sal who takes the time to record everything being said and Dean who is someone who speaks and is so quotable and wild and educated – they were the dream pair.
Someone who is as intelligent as Dean could have someone follow him and take them on adventures and even if none of that gets published, it would make for a great diary.
And then, how would you describe the relationship between Dean and Marylou? That is a relationship that people watching this movie so many decades later may still find unsettling.
I like to think in a way that Marylou is almost like the female Dean in a way. She knew what she was in for and that’s why she stuck around with these guys – and also why she left them.
She left Dean in New York to go back to her sailor. Dean leaves her in Denver to go back to Camille in San Francisco and there was a similar acceptance of freedom and lack of [rules]. But there was so much love in that relationship. They continued to communicate all the way up until he passed away. And unfortunately, she passed away just months before we started filming.
But we got to meet a bunch of her family members including her daughter who loved her mom so much and her niece. When I met her niece in San Francisco toward the end of shooting it was awkward, but almost in a good way. Her hair was a similar color to how you imagined Marylou’s to be and I was playing Dean who is a person she’s been surrounded by all her life. On the Road is a big part of these people’s lives and to see her looking how we imagine her aunt to almost look like was surreal.
Carolyn Cassady (the character Camille in the film) came out and we had dinner the second to last day of filming. We had to get up at 5am, but she could always go for another drink, so Sam [Riley] and I went with her arm and arm up to [frequent Beat Generation haunt] Vesuvio’s in San Francisco right by City Lights Bookstore and she hadn’t been there since going there with them many years ago. Just sitting there with her – I wish I had the camera [working] on my iPhone. The sole of her shoe had come off while we were walking, and this might sound disgusting, but I took off my boot and had my wardrobe socks still on and I took the sock off and put it on her shoes so she could continue walking. She’s in her late 80s now. It was a wonderful moment…
Dean is a set of contradictions. He’s a forward thinking enlightened soul but also there’s these misogynistic elements to him, would you agree?
Yeah, I mean. Hmmm. Marylou did know what was going on. Just as much as she wanted to be with Dean, she also wanted to be with Sal. Going to New York, she knew he would be fooling around with women at the bars and she said that it’s only fair that she gets to be with other men too. Neal said ‘it’s fine with me as long as you don’t mess with Al Hinkle.’ [Hinkle is the only male character from On the Road alive today]. He actually told me that story and said he didn’t know why he happened to be the one he mentioned, but he had heard it while pretending to be asleep in the back of the car.
So with the Camille (Carolyn Cassady) side of it, he wanted to be with her because of respectability. Camille was also incredibly intellectual and when he had his first daughter with her, he had the family he was longing for. And now he had the ability and the desire to provide for them and got a job on the rail and at a tire shop and he worked long hours to provide.
John Cassady expressed to me big time how wonderful of a father he was and when he came home from work, all three of them would grab on to his bicep and he would lift them all up. There were lots of stories from them. Stories of sadness or of adventure that were not as careless as On the Road sometimes makes him seem. They were very touching.
How do you think audiences should approach seeing On the Road today?
I hope they’ll want to pick up On the Road afterward. A lot of these family members don’t get credit for the lives they’ve lived. Carolyn Cassady took the famous photograph of Neal and Kerouac and she doesn’t see a dime from any of this stuff. She has a wonderful book Off the Road that is the female perspective of what she went through and it’s beautiful. If women think they’re in a tough relationship – then, well, read Off the Road [laughs]. Carolyn said when asked, ‘What would you tell girls these days?’ She said, ‘Well for one, jealousy is stupid.’
I just hope they will read On the Road and other Beat material and discover people beyond Kerouac like Ginsberg, Burroughs and others and explore.
LA Times Review:
Review: ‘On the Road’ is achingly romantic
‘On the Road,’ director Walter Salles’ poetic adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel, stars Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart.
There are as many visions of “On the Road,” novelist Jack Kerouac’s vivid anthem to the romance of youthful freedom and the getting of experience as there are readers. It’s a book so influential yet so personal that each succeeding generation since its 1957 publication has picked it up and simply said, as one of its protagonists does, “Oh yes, oh yes, that’s the way it goes.”
Director Walter Salles has been one of those enthusiasts since he was an 18-year-old growing up in Brazil under a stifling military dictatorship. Best known for transferring Che Guevara’s “The Motorcycle Diaries” to film, Salles has lovingly crafted a poetic, sensitive, achingly romantic version of the Kerouac book that captures the evanescence of its characters’ existence and the purity of their rebellious hunger for the essence of life.
Salles’ version, finely written by Jose Rivera, who also wrote the “Diaries” script, is more than a tribute to people who have passed into legend. Its re-creation of the adventures of Kerouac alter ego Sal Paradise, his best friend and inspiration Dean Moriarty (based on the legendary Neal Cassady, who went on to drive the Magic Bus for Ken Kesey) and Moriarty’s wife Marylou uses youthful stars like Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart to show how eternal that yearning remains.
The lure of Kerouac’s legacy as Beat Generation avatar is so strong that any number of other prominent actors, including Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi and Viggo Mortensen, signed on for what are essentially supporting roles in part because the book means so much to them.
A major player in the success of “On the Road” is the lyric cinematography, rich in views of the casual beauty of wide-open landscapes shot in all kinds of weather, of French director of photography Eric Gautier, another “Motorcycle Diaries” veteran.
More than just recording scenery, Gautier shot the entire film in a loose, fluid, almost improvisational manner, a visual style that echoes, with good reason, the off-the-cuff feeling of another revolution the Beats influenced, the French New Wave.
Like a fighter on a diet, “On the Road” has been trimmed by about a quarter of an hour from the version that premiered this year at Cannes. The new edition also opens in a different place, with the movie’s first glimpse of the igniter of dreams and enabler of fantasies, the character modeled on the man Allen Ginsberg called “the car thief ‘Adonis of Denver,’ with his head full of philosophy”: Dean Moriarty.
The year is 1947, and Moriarty (Hedlund) is introduced moving cars around a New York City parking lot with an élan that reveals a level of driving skill that helped him steal 500 cars as a youth. He’d previously spent, we’re told, a third of his young life in pool halls, a third in jail, and a third in the public library, obsessively accumulating knowledge.
The physical manifestation of the life force, Moriarty proved irresistible to the would-be creative types he meets in New York. These include Sal Paradise (Riley, the star of “Control”), a self-described “young writer trying to take off,” and Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge), an aspiring poet and fellow baby hipster based on Ginsberg.
Moriarty has not come to New York alone but with Marylou, his 16-year-old child bride, persuasively played by Stewart (cast by Salles after her performance in “Into the Wild”) who has thrown herself into her role with excellent results.
If there is a breakout performance in “On the Road,” however, it is Hedlund. Previously best known for starring in “Tron: Legacy,” Hedlund hits all the right notes in the difficult role of being all things to all people.
From the moment he appears opening the door to his apartment completely naked, Hedlund projects the intimate yet intensely masculine presence that drew everyone like a flame. It wasn’t just sexual magnetism that’s being conveyed, it’s the quality that Ginsberg noticed in Neal Cassady: “His total generosity of heart was overwhelming.”
Still living with his mother, Paradise the observer is drawn immediately to someone with a formidable will to action, and the two young men immediately bond over stories of their feckless fathers and a joint intoxication with the idea of the camaraderie of the road.
“The only people for me are the mad ones,” Paradise says in one of the book’s (and the film’s) most celebrated passages. “The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, 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.”
Episodic by nature like the book, “On the Road” stays with Paradise as he ping-pongs around the country, gathering experiences he painstakingly records in a series of notebooks. Sometimes he’s by himself, sometimes he’s with Moriarty, who is soon dividing his sexual attention among Marylou, the new woman in his life Camille (Dunst) and even Carlo Marx.
One of the hallmarks of Salles and Rivera’s perspective is that even though these characters can be heedless in search of their pleasures, whether it be through sex or drugs, the film never loses sight of how young everyone is, and by implication, how innocent. How long they can live on “the edge of sanity and experience” before a reckoning looms down the road is the question everyone wants to avoid but, finally, no one can.