On the Road - Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund
On the Road - Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), Marylou (Kristen Stewart) and Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) ©2012 IFC Films, photo by Gregory Smith
On the Road - Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund
On the Road – Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), Marylou (Kristen Stewart) and Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) ©2012 IFC Films, photo by Gregory Smith

Over fifty years after it was published, Walter Salles is bringing Jack Kerouac’s book [amazon_link id=”3499255790″ target=”_blank” ]On the Road[/amazon_link] to the big screen. It was a novel that many filmmakers believed could not be made into a movie.

On the Road tells the story of Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young writer whose life is redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a free-spirited, fast talking Westerner, and his girlfriend, Marylou (Kristen Stewart).

Kristen and Garrett spoke with us about the iconic book, and the movie, at the press day for the film.

When doing press junkets, is there a different feel for a film like this, as opposed to Twilight, where you have to get the word out?

On the Road - Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund
Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) and Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) ©2012 IFC Films

Kristen: I’ve been on many a Twilight tour, and this one obviously feels pointedly different. You can place yourself in your body a little bit more when you know there’s not another one coming up.

I’m really letting it all sink in and affect me now, which is fun and quite different. But [with this movie] it’s the same feeling, wanting people to know what you’ve got going on.

With the love scenes in this, your fans will certainly see a lot more of you.

On the Road - Kristen Stewart
Marylou (Kristen Stewart) ©2012 IFC Films

Kristen: You try to expose yourself in different ways in every film you do. I’m not really worried about them.

Were you a fan of the book?

Garrett: I was such a fan of the novel, and was in disbelief that an opportunity like this would ever come my way. I thought it was the most unbelievable thing to ever happen to me.

You and Walter traveled 60,000 miles during the course of making the film. How much value was there in going to the real locations?

On the Road - Garrett Hedlund
Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) ©2012 IFC Films, photo by Gregory Smith

Garrett: In order to have it be useful for the film, we had to take back roads everywhere, because the sides of the roads aren’t polluted with billboards, power lines and cars of this age.

In order to get from Nashville to Memphis took us 8 hours on back roads. From Phoenix to Los Angeles took us 18 hours, but with us not being in such a rush we got to see some of the most beautiful lands that all the impatient people don’t get to see these days, and that was a benefit for us.

I read you attended a boot camp before shooting began. What did you actually do?

On the Road - Garrett Hedlund
Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) ©2012 IFC Films

Garrett: I always get a kick out of it, because it sounds like we were going off to film Saving Private Ryan with books. (Kristen laughs) It was a beatnik boot camp.

We only got four weeks together in Montreal before we started to shoot.  We didn’t  have any time to waste.

We would gather every morning surrounded by books, and a lot of films that Walter had had that gave him a sense of this time. But really it was us rehearsing, sharing material that we found that nobody else had seen.

It was very collaborative.

Kristen: Even one little line out of a letter, you’d go, ‘Oh my God, that’s how it really was.’ Sometimes you miss things and it was nice to be able to do it together, because you are always going to pick different moments that are really treasured out of the book.

Having the information we had on the real lives was an unprecedented resource.

I’m guessing that you read [amazon_link id=”1936740044″ target=”_blank” ]One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road[/amazon_link], which was co-written by Anne Marie Santos, the daughter of the character your role is based upon?

Kristen: One and Only actually came out after we did the movie, but we had transcribed interviews that were given to us before the book existed.

That book is so important, I cannot believe that it only exists now, just because of the way that people talk about the women in the story.

They can be difficult to understand if you don’t know what’s going on in their head and in their hearts, and having gotten to know the person behind the character, it’s so much fun to read the book.

Kristen was asked if she hoped her Twilight fans would read On the Road? Click below for her answer.

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[amazon_enhanced asin=”014312028X” /][amazon_enhanced asin=”3499255790″ /][amazon_enhanced asin=”1936740044″ /]

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.