I interviewed Jake La Botz just after the release of the On The Road trailer. Now, the movie is selected to the Cannes Film Festival. Jake La Botz will be there, walking the red carpet on May 23rd. It’s going to be a busy summer for the actor-singer, as he will be doing concerts in France just a few days after the On The Road Premiere in Cannes.
|Kristen Stewart, Jake La Botz and Rocky Marquette (C) MK2|
What did you think about the trailer ? What was your first thought when you saw it?
1st thought: The trailer is a true ‘teaser’… it gives just enough dance, dirt, and danger for us to get sucked in. Total beauty!
2nd thought: Holy shit I’m in it!
Your character, the Okie hitchiker, meets Sal, Dean and Marylou on the road…
He’s a travelling minstrel… an itinerant Okie moo-sician stranded in Arizona… out of work, out of dough, and minus a gi-tar… looking to cop a lift back to his family in Cali. He’s an affable, joke telling songster. On the outside he’s the archetypal ‘drifting cowboy’… but there’s something very unusual about this guy.
How did your audition go ?
I was living in New Orleans back then and I got a call from the local casting people. They asked me to come in to audition for the Okie Hitchiker, but I was 1000 miles away in Virginia playing that night for a motorcycle gang called ‘the Warlocks’… so I put something on tape in my motel room the next day and emailed it to them. A few days later I was in Brooklyn having dinner, before a gig, with my friend Steve Buscemi. I mentioned to him that I had just auditioned for On The Road… and he said he was going to be in it… AND that he would send an email to Walter Salles on my behalf! Apparently Walter had already seen the audition tape and liked it… but it didn’t hurt having Buscemi put in the good word!
How would you describe the work of Walter Salles on the movie ?
From my brief experience with him I would say this: Walter is a man of great vision and insight. He creates situations in which something can happen between actors and the environment… something often unscripted… something magic. He leaves a lot of space to see what arises out of the inspiration of the moment.
What about playing with the other actors ? In the trailer, we can see you in the Hudson with Kristen Stewart and Rocky Marquette.
The feeling was that we were actually out on the road… I never felt like I was working with actors.
Could you say more about the atmosphere during filming? Any special moment you won’t forget?
Walter Salles seems so comfortable in his skin… he and his cohorts created an energized and friendly environment to work in. I didn’t experience any of the angry, heavy-handed, Hollywood ‘get-it-done-yesterday’ vibe that I’ve seen working on big movies in the past. There was also a sense of equality among the people working on the film. One thing I remember is seeing Walter come loping up to the car in the Arizona desert as we were preparing for one more take of something. He’d been standing out in the sun for 12 hours… his eyes were wild and his skin burnt… he looked as though he’d lost his mind… I think I even asked him if he was going crazy…he smiled and high-fived Kristen. What became clear was that no matter what the degree of personal physical or mental discomfort Walter never loses sight of his vision.
Did you have the opportunity to discuss with the other actors about their feelings on the movie and the book?
Not much... but it was clear that the lead actors had worked very hard to embody the characters they were portraying.
What about you ? How did you prepare yourself?
Well, you could say my entire life has been sort of a Beat story: stealing a car at 15 and running away from home… working in factories, and oil refineries, learning how to play blues from the last of the Delta blues men, getting strung out on heroin, living in SRO hotels, moving from town to town in search of the same romance with the world I experienced in reading Kerouac's books… eventually getting clean and studying and practicing Buddhist meditation.
How would you define Kerouac’s universe ?
It's a call and response be-bop hymn between Kerouac and America... which causes the unique cosmic underpinnings in every person and situation to reveal themselves. Or maybe it’s just a hyper-real dance marathon.
What will you remember about this whole adventure?
The magic. The cosmic force that seemed to be reflected in Walter’s eyes… in the side view mirror of the Hudson… in the lens of Eric’s camera.
Last but not least : apart of being an actor, you’re also a great singer. Will we have the honor to hear one of your song in the movie ?
Thank you for saying so. We did film the Okie singing a Jake La Botz song in the backseat… [Note : "Hard to Love What You Kill" ] but you never know… I hope it’s still in there!
And we hope too, since that scene is one of Walter Salles’ favorite part of the film ! As he said in the On The Road special issue made by Trois Couleurs : “Jake La Botz, […] an actor-singer Steve Buscemi introduced me to for On The road, had given a concert in New Orleans two days before shooting. One of the song struck me with its accuracy, as though it had been written especially for the Marylou character. I asked him to sing it without playing in the Hudson, without warning Kristen. She reacted instinctively to something she was hearing for the first time, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the film.’’
Jake La Botz will attend the Cannes Festival on May 23rd, then do some concerts in South of France. Check the dates here !
<- Europeantour poster in the style of La Botz's character "The Okie Hitchhiker"
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