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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

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by Simon Dang
May 10, 2012 9:03 AM
17 Comments
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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

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17 Comments

  • gabe | May 23, 2012 5:06 PMReply

    More curious than excited about the movie, have to say. Of interest: John Tytell has written a good history on Kerouac and the making of the Beat Generation, which is now an e-single. A great read, for those interested: http://goo.gl/HS2f1

  • AG | May 12, 2012 5:45 PMReply

    In a letter Kerouac wrote to Marlon Brando circa late 1957, Kerouac writes:

    "Don't worry about the structure, I know to compress and re-arrange the plot a bit to give a perfectly acceptable movie-type structure: making it into one all-inclusive trip instead of the several voyages coast-to-coast in the book, one vast round trip from New York to Denver to Frisco to Mexico to New Orleans to New York again. I visualize the beautiful shots could be made with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak. I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I'll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I'll show you how Dean acts in real life...we can go visit him in Frisco, or have him come down to L.A. still a real frantic cat..., "

    http://www.dharmabeat.com/movie.html

  • Michael Kellner | May 11, 2012 7:41 AMReply

    @Louise: Sorry to say but the script is based mainly on the published book of 1957, and only in a few parts - like the opening scentence - on the scroll.

  • Green | May 11, 2012 6:48 AMReply

    Let's get real here. Kristen Stewart is completely miscast. I remember reading this when she was cast: Kerouac describes her early on as a sweet but outwardly dumb (though surprisingly sharp and sexually manipulative) country girl, and a “pretty blonde with immense ringlets of hair like a sea of golden tresses”—so it’ll be interesting to see how much Salles allows Stewart to make the character her own.

    And it does look like they just let Kristen Stewart be Kristen Stewart without invoking either the characterization in the novel, or the real LuAnn. Sigh. And then after all this marketing to the mopey, illiterate Twihards they don't even let her speak in the trailer.

    If they are going to talk about the female characters I'd like to hear more about Kirsten Dunst as it's arguable Camille/Carolyn is more important and relevant to Neal/Dean than Marylou.

  • Wenna | May 11, 2012 12:04 AMReply

    Kristen's role is alot smaller than the guys. I think she and the guys had the Beatnik boot training for a month and then she filmed for at least a month. All of her scenes were filmed first as she had to leave for BD filming. Kerouac is thought by some to be misogynistic and Salles was close to the families of Luanne Henderson (basis for Kristen's character) and the family of Carolyn Cassady (basis for Kirsten Dunst's character). Salles wanted to portray the woman a fair imo but they are still on the sidelines of the story. Also some women think Kristen's character represents the odd female of the time also looking for freedom and liberation.

  • Hyena | May 10, 2012 5:45 PMReply

    Louise,
    So, do Ginsberg and Kerouac get it on in the scroll version? Coppola didn't buy the scroll version, he bought the book version.

  • Tadei | May 10, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    Kristen Stewart has said from the beginning that she has a small role. Then I read that the movie expands a bit of all the female characters because they are important to the story. We will have to see.

  • Hyena | May 10, 2012 2:03 PMReply

    Nowhere in the book "On the Road" is there a scene between Ginsberg and Kerouac having oral sex with each other. Green is right, Marylou is a nothing character, an airhead, just convenient.

  • Kay | May 11, 2012 4:52 AM

    LuAnne, as in LuAnne Henderson. Serves me right for trying to type at 5 am. She was pivotal in encouraging Jack and Neal's friendship. http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781936740048

  • Kay | May 11, 2012 4:47 AM

    ummm, did you read Nicosia's One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road? Louise was far more complex than Kerouac portrays in the book, and they did indeed flesh out her character. Whether that equals more screen time remains to be seen.

  • Louise | May 10, 2012 4:00 PM

    @Hyena: Keep in mind that the screenplay for the movie is based quite a bit on the actual scroll that Kerouac wrote and less on the published book. Apparently, the are some significant differences between the scroll and the final published book as it is sometimes the case because books undergo such an intense editing process. Most of us read the published book because we don't have access to the scroll so there may be stuff in the movie that we did not find in the book.

  • Arch | May 10, 2012 2:21 PM

    Which makes me wonder if they extended Marylou's part ... Beside, even if Riley speaks good french fanadian he still looks like a modern day anemic hipster to me.

  • Green | May 10, 2012 10:19 AMReply

    Marylou is such a nothing character and yet all we hear about is Kristen Stewart. Isn't this movie supposed to be about two guys ON THE ROAD?

  • caroline | May 10, 2012 2:57 PM

    We're obviously hearing about her so much to try and pull the twilight audience. She did mention in interviews that she left filming before everyone else, so her part will probably be smaller than the guys. I'd be surprised it they extended her part. They're just inflating it for publicity.

  • Cheese | May 10, 2012 9:46 AMReply

    Viggo isn't Canadian, he's just in a lot of Cronenberg movies

  • Conor | May 10, 2012 9:25 AMReply

    Re: the runtime, On the Road is screening at the Sydney Film Festival in June with a runtime of 2hrs 40min.

  • Kevin | May 10, 2012 9:47 AM

    Cannes sched says 2 hr 20 min.

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