Six years after writing his seismic roadtrip odyssey On The Road, Jack Kerouac penned a one-page letter to Marlon Brando asking him to play Dean Moriarty while Kerouac himself would play Sal Paradise. Brando never wrote back. But after decades driving in the circles of development hell, On The Road has finally arrived in cinemas with 27-year-old Garrett Hedlund in the driving seat as the Beat generation icon searching for ‘it’ in 40s America. You have to feel that Kerouac and Brando would have approved.
Stepping on the screen bare-ass naked, the Tron Legacy actor cranks up the charisma to become the reason to watch The Motorcycle Diaries director Salles’ vibey, drifting movie. Hedlund centres an all-star cast that includes Sam Riley, Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart, Adam Adams, Terrence Howard and Kirsten Dunst – and he leaves them all behind with a lazy intensity, handsome looks that are both youthful and lived-in, and a voice that sounds like it’s been soaked in old whiskey and stained with roll-up cigarettes.
Drugs, sex and self-discovery… the two-lane blacktop offers all this and more. And like so many young Americans, Hedlund has always been hypnotised by the open road. But his journey to stardom is unlikely by any standards. He was raised on a remote beef cattle farm in Nowheresville, Minnesota, but found himself chosen to star as Brad Pitt’s brother in swords’n’sandals epic Troy. He then levelled-up to play Jeff Bridges’ son and the hero of 3D sci-fi stunner Tron, before grabbing the role of free-wheelin’ free-spirit Moriarty by the bootstraps. And he’s caught the eye of the Coen brothers, too, who’ve cast him in their own roadtripper, Inside Llewyn Davis. Hedlund, it seems, is most definitely going places.