If any film at Cannes this year faced the most fevered anticipation, it was Walter Salles' "On The Road." Not just because the project had been over thirty years in the making, and was based on a beloved, groundbreaking novel, but also because it features an exciting young cast lead by "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart, "Tron: Legacy" lead Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley from "Control," with a strong supporting roster including Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Terrence Howard, and more.
And for the most part, the reviews, including our own, suggest the cast acquit themselves nicely in what must have been tricky roles to come to terms with. It must be especially satisfying for the patient actors who, as it turns out, were cast in the long-gestating project as much as three years before filming began in 2010. Not long after our discussion with director Walter Salles, Playlist contributor Aaron Hillis sat down with Stewart and Hedlund for roundtable interviews to talk about "On The Road." Below are five highlights from the conversation, and you can see the movie later this year courtesy of IFC Films.
Although she's nearly 40 years younger than Jack Kerouac's book (which was written in 1951, but not published for another six years), Kristen Stewart is a longtime fan. The novel also helped introduce her to a wider range of authors. "I read it when I was 14," the actress said. "I had read some Burroughs, I had tried to read 'Naked Lunch,' it didn't get inside me as much as 'On the Road' did. I read Ginsberg's stuff. It opened a lot of doors to different writers. Like, Henry Miller is not a part of the [beat generation], but he's one of my favorite writers and I only know about him through these people." Indeed, her reading of Kerouac & co inspired her to do some writing of her own, something she hopes to return to one day. "I wrote when I was younger. But I have such an outlet now, it's not a compulsion and I don’t want to force it. I'm not a storyteller, it was really about words and what they could do. I'll get back to it, I'm sure."
Stewart became particularly attached to the '49 Hudson in which so much of the film is set.
Every road movie needs a great car, and luckily there was one already specified in the book -- the '49 Hudson owned by Neal Cassady (the inspiration for Hedlund's character Dean Moriarty). And given that so many of her scenes took place in or around the car, it's unsurprising that the actress felt it to be part of the cast by the time the movie wrapped. "It's so comfortable in there. Road trips now are not the same because our cars are not the same. It's like a room. By the end of the movie, my last scene was in the Hudson, and I can't even describe to you what it was like to get out of it and know that I wasn't going to get back in. It was horrible," she said. "My last scene was one quick shot in a rearview mirror, right before we got dumped in San Francisco. It's perfect that it was my last scene as well, because you know it's coming. And there's this awesome picture that I will cherish for the rest of my life of me and Walter and Sam standing in the middle of the road, right after they called wrap and I definitely just wiped a full face of tears off. It so captures that moment because now I'm on my own road."