M Magazine (Scans + Translation)
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Translation thanks to eurofabulous
Last time we saw these three, the two boys and the girl were in the sunroom of a plantation. They got into the Hudson in 1947 and disappeared under the trees of the avenue.
This was in September 2010, in New Orleans, the filming of On the Road was already 3 months in. They had many more months ahead, riding from Mexico to San Francisco, crossing through Canada.
A year and a half later, Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart met up again in the bright light of Los Angeles. It's the first reunion back for months for the trio and it almost was like the shooting just ended. They snuke out of the studio, where they posed for the photograph Steven Pan, to go smoke on the sidewalk.
Their complicity is intact, just like it was on the seat of the Hudson, on the American roads. The way they talk about the movie is also different from the usual dialogue imposed by media training. In their stories, in their thought process, we can hear the echos of a commun experience that shaped them. Under the aegis of saint Jack Kerouak, under the direction of Walter Salles, they got another view of the world, of the cinema. On May 23rd, they will be in Cannes for the International Premiere of On the Road, by Walter Salles. Adaptated from Jack Kerouac's novel, the piece that started the Beat Generation.
The Brazilian director grabbed in 2004 this text - that inspired the travels done across the USA at the end of the 1940s - published in 1957. It took him eight years to complete the movie, without sacrificing anything, and especially not the three young actors that he chose right from the beginning. Even tho, in the meantime, one of them became a star.
It's been decades since Hollywood wondered who will take on the roles of Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise and Marylou, the On the Road trio that Kerouac shaped after nature. Moriarty, that's Neal Cassady, the boy that "spent one third of his youth in a correction house, one third in pool halls and one third in public libraries", as Walter Salles likes to remind everyone.
Paradise is Kerouac, the immigrant from Quebec, son of a working class man from Massachusetts. And then Marylou, it's LuAnne Henderson, the teenager who escaped home for the love of Cassady and to be free.
Six years ago, Walter Salles chose Garrett Hedlund first to play Neal. The actor was 20 and came out of his farm in Minnesota. Some time later, during a supper, the composer Gustavo Santaolalla told the director about a young acttress that he noticed in a movie for which he wrote the score - Into The Wild, by Sean Penn.
Kristen Stewart - "I remember writing her name on piece of paper" says Walter Salles - thus became Marylou. Finally, after the screening of 'Control' at Cannes in 2007, the English actor Sam Riley was invited to do a test with Hedlund. The chemistry between the two boys was so obvious that despite height differences (Riley is tall and thin, Kerouac was small and stocky) and accent with the original, the British actor landed the role of Sal Paradise. Among other things, because they weren't too famous, Walter Salles' project was pushed back several times, until the beginning of 2010.
After leaving the set of On the Road, kristen Stewart took on one job after the other - Breaking Dawn, Snow White and the Huntsman. While the boys spent a year doing nothing. Sam Riley who lives in Berlin, tells us that he spoke with Garrett Hedlund via Skype. "Did you find something? No? Me neither." Finally, they both accepted secondary roles under the guide of renowned directors. Neil Jordan for Riley and the Coen brothers for Hedlund. After portraying Kerouac's characters for so long it must have been hard to come back to the 21st century. Kristen Stewart didn't have a choice, she had to reply to the call of the vampires. Between the moment, overjoyed, when she accepted the role of Marylou and the beginning of filming, she became Bella, the heroine of Twilight, the vampire's lover played by Robert Pattinson who's her partner off screen. As if by magic, in January 2010, when Walter Salles finally found with the French producer MK2, the funds and the support that were lacking elsewhere, the scheduling proved to be compatible with the agenda of the young actress. What it was less tho, it seems, was her status of a super star, chassed by fans and the media, and the willingness of Walter Salles to make of OTR a nomadic experience, as close as possible to the wanderings of Kerouac.
Kristen Stewart played the game. During filming, the crew sometimes played hide and seek with the press and the fans who would track the actress. In Argentina (where the crew went to seek snow in August), to leave the airport they had to use a limo as a decoy to chase the paparazzis away. One part of the shooting had to be relocated in Arizona after threats of kidnapping. But on the set, no agents, no press agents; no assistants; all these people that gravitate around her in Hollywood. "I don't know how she managed to stay sane", wonders Sam Riley.
The three young actors went through 'boot camp' that Walter organized a few weeks before the shooting in Montreal. In a big apartment, they watched John Cassavetes' movies, met with writers from the Beat Generation, listened to jazz from the late 1940s. Kristen discovered rare recordings of LuAnne Henderson. Out of all the protagonists in OTR, LuAnne is the only one who didn't make profit out of her experience: "It was her life, three years with the man she loved. That's all, no opportunity to become famous. And God knows that time was open to opportunities." Kristen Stewart tells us with joy, like she used to do on the set in New Orleans, when she remembers her first reading of OTR at 14 or 15.
She, who's about to board on a three movies' promotional tour, does her best to prove that her enthusiasm for this movie isn't conventional. "People always say that they're a family on set and it's not always the case but this time," she insists, "I didn't want to leave the set, I wanted to do the whole journey with them. But for years I was preparing myself to finish the Twilight series." She forced herself into this "big change in pace", where she worked non stop for a year and she's now undecided as to where to go next. "I'm itchy at the idea to be working but I saw nothing so far that provoked me, that made me move. That's how it's like after you make movies like OTR. The level of demand is higher."
You also have to face the demands of Kerouac's fans. Americans who wonder why the Brazilian gave the role of Sal Paradise to an English actor. Some movie-goers who know that Francis Ford Coppola (who had bought the rights of the book at the end of the 1960s and is one of the coproducers of the movie) or Gus Van Sant could have directed the movie. In a bookstore on Sunset Boulevard (yes, they exist), a seller recognized Sam Riley and asked him: "You're going to be in OTR? I hope it's going to be good." Out of the three, the British actor is the most worried. It might be a matter of temper. He's wondering if people are gonna hold his accent against him (a mix between a Yankee from New England and some Quebecois) that he worked on for months. He remembers an anecdote from 'boot camp'. "A writer who knew Kerouac came to a room were Garrett and I were in. He shaked our hands and then looked over his shoulder asking where was the one who was supposed to play Kerouac."
Six months later, in San Francisco, the night of the last day of shooting, Sam Riley met Carolyn Cassady, Neal's widow, who's 90 today (she's played in the movie by Kirsten Dunst). "She stroked my cheek and looked at me. I can't repeat what she told me but, as she was leaving, I told myself that the people who hired me might not have been so wrong after all."
In the meantime, Sam Riley/Sal Paradise had picked cotton in Arizona( 122° in the shade), danced in some dumps in Puebla (when violence was paroxysmal in Mexico) and spend one whole Sunday in the snow in Calgary, Canada.
"I remember someone came over to wake me up to do some reshoots. As a true diva, I thought it was my day off but I left with them anyway. There was only Walter, Eric Gautier (note: the director of photography) and Garrett took care of the costumes and make-up." This swerve in the work programme, unthinkable on a Hollywood movie set, produced beautiful images of Paradise walking in the mountains, in hopes of stopping a car or a truck. "In three hours we filmed 20 shots," remembers Sam Riley, "and my favorites are featured among those."
In New Orleans, he had to improvise alongside Viggo Mortensen who played the role of Old Bull Lee (inspired by the character of William Burroughs, literary inventor, heroin addict, murderer of his own wife. "I knew Viggo was a smart nd cultivated man, a poet too. I spent all night on Wikipedia because I was scared he was going to ask me: 'So Sal, what do you think of the Übermensch?' when I've never read Nietzche."
Those periods of ad-libbing are at the heart of the movie Walter wanted to make. As the trio drove away on the roads of Arizona, (113° in the shade), the script planned for them to pick up a hitchhicker. Walter Salles grabbed the talented singer Jake La Botz. he made him hum the sad lament of a man who killed the woman he loved, without warning Kristen Stewart "Marylou's reaction when she hears that song was memorable," explains Walter Salles. "She stayed in the movie to announce the inevitable break up between Marylou and Dean Moriarty."
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