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Kristen Stewart Did 'On The Road' For The Price Of A Beatles Song On 'Mad Men' & More About The Walter Salles Adaptation

The Playlist By Simon Dang | The Playlist May 10, 2012 at 9:03AM

The long, difficult journey from page to screen for Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" has been well-documented over the years, and one thing that has been consistent throughout is the passion and love evinced for the novel by all involved --particularly the godfather of it all, Francis Ford Coppola, who acquired the novel's rights back in 1978 at the height of his success.
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Stewart OTR
3. Salles was introduced to Kristen Stewart by filmmaking friend Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
"'Look no further,' " Salles recalls Inarittu telling him "'I've just seen the first cut of Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' and there's this 16-year-old girl you'll fall in love with.'" Luckily for Salles, Stewart was also a big fan of the novel, and after signing up, stuck through the extended development period and remained faithful to the project during the entire time that the film sought funding.

Her fame drew a lot of unwanted attention for the production, though, as "wherever Kristen went, the blogosphere lit up with the specifics of her movements," producer Rebecca Yeldham added. A lot of effort had to be made to avoid paparazzi and fans, particularly for Stewart's topless scenes which were shot on a closely guarded set. The actress was fairly comfortable with the scenes, revealing that she "was so shocked at being able to do it...I didn't feel naked" though Riley, who featured opposite her, didn't share her ease, noting the pressure of it made him "sick with anxiety." 

4. Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" and John Cassavetes' "Shadows" were screened as part of the Beatnik boot camp.
Salles screened Godard and Cassavetes' films to the cast as he wanted to exhibit the "freewheeling feature he envisioned." This was all a part of the Beatnik camp the cast atteneded, which included talks from characters like Neal Cassady's son John and Luanne Henderson's daughter. The actor with the most difficult pre-production task was Sam Riley who was forced to learn how to use a typewriter -- a task made much more difficult by the actor's dyslexia.

Riley previously explained that the boot camp's purpose was to "get together and hang out with a lot of experts and biographers from the Beatnik generation, who came in to talk to us. We would watch films from that time and listen to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie while doing push-ups and picking our fingers. I learned to type and I learned to speak French Canadian with a Quebecois accent. It was a full schedule."  

Riley OTR
5. The production faced many hurdles including drug wars, blown engines, crazy weather and...improvisation?
An 80-day shoot across Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Louisiana, Arizona and San Francisco was always going to pose some problems -- and it did. Upon consulting security experts, the cast and crew were forced into a last minute shift from Torreon to Arizona as a result of a deteriorating drug war. Mexico was also the location where Riley's character was simply driving "to this house to get marijuana, and the engine just blew up. That's in the finished film." The actor feels that "some of the best moments in the movie were ones where things went wrong."

A real-life blizzard generally warrants an exit from the area and/or country, but Salles, Garrett Hedlund and a bare-bones crew headed straight into it in Argentina to film a scene where the actor drove with his head out of the window. "It was freezing, and I couldn't see a thing," Hedlund recalled.

Riley, meanwhile, still couldn't catch a break. Tasked with improvising with Viggo Mortensen, he feared the well-read actor "might ask me something about Nietzsche, like, 'What do you think about the Ubermensch?' The night before he arrived, I spent hours Wikipedia-ing Jean-Paul Sartre and others just in case he threw me a curveball." The actor stressed out for nothing, though, as Mortensen kept it simple.

"On The Road" premieres at the Cannes Film Festival on March 23rd and will hit theaters later this fall through IFC Films and the Sundance Selects.

Cast OTR

This article is related to: On The Road, Kristen Stewart, Walter Salles , Francis Ford Coppola, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund


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