Walter Salles on Kristen + Interview of Kristen:
When Salles met her, he was impressed by just how passionate the young actress was about the book and playing Marylou, the fictionalised version of Cassady's first wife, LuAnne Henderson. Listening to Stewart today, as she sits poolside at Cannes, dressed in a cropped orange leather Prada jacket, black micro-skirt, heels and white Blondie T-shirt, that same enthusiasm for Kerouac's book leaps out. "I was fourteen of fifteen when I read it for the first time," she recalls. "It was the first time that I've ever ripped through a book and actually liked it. It got me into reading. It introduced me to a lot of writers. It represents a stage of life that is so full of emotion and passion and conviction. At that age, you just haven't really put your finger on why you feel so much."
The way that she sees it, reading On the Road for the fist time "opened a lot of doors" when she was fourteen. "That's when you start to be able to choose your family, and choose your friends are, rather than just being environmentally surrounded by who you are, and surrounded by circumstance." Stewart muses. "You actually start to decide who's important to you. I went mad for these characters. I wanted to keep up with them. I identified personally much more with Sal though."
So, does she feel the need to "burn, burn, burn", to borrow the famous Kerouac quote? "It's very fundamental," Stewart nods. "That's why the book has sustained. It's never not going to be topical. It's like breathing. We always have to breathe. We always have to move forward - people have different limits, different boundaries, and different priorities and values. It's not easy to look around and see that you don't share the same ones with the common majority. And to follow that line is something that I really, really fucking adhere to. I really love that." She pauses momentarily. "The book's never been irrelevant. Even before it was written, we needed it."
Stewart admits that she was nervous for another reason: satisfying the book's army of fans. "We have such a responsability to these people. We all have our own love for the book." But she pays tribute to Salles for bringing the "perfect" groupe together. "He creates an environment that's so undeniable, you don't need to think - you're just there," she says. "The sign of a great director is when you feel like you've found something together, and then at the end, you look back and go, 'Oh my God, he led me to that place! I wasn't even aware of it.' Walter literally allowed me to feel like I was a part of it, but he picked me up, and put me over here. You know what I mean? It was amazing."
Garrett Hedlund on the beatnik boot camp:
To help Riley and co. get up to speed, in what is destined to become a famous aspect of On the Road's production, Salles held a "beatnik boot camp" for three weeks in July 2010, before production began. "We were able to share everything that we had learned with each other," says Hedlund, who by this point had enjoyed "three years of gathering information" for his role. "The boot camp was us, in an apartment, sitting there for ten hours a day, with jazz playing - Dexter Gordon, Lester Young - and reading cross-legged in a corner of the apartment, going over stuff and watching old Cassavetes films."
Initially, the "camp" was Hedlund, Riley and Stewart, who were later joined by British actors, Tom Sturridge (who plays Carlo Marx aka Howl poet, Allen Ginsberg) and Danny Morgan (Ed Dunkel aka Al Hinkle). "It was such undeniable company that we couldn't wait to go to work," admits Hedlund.
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