'' It's funny that I got to do On the Road. I was very inspired by the book and this spirit of Dean Moriarty and how envious we all are of somebody who can be that carefree. ''
HEDLUND: Yeah. I remember, at first, looking it up and seeing that Francis Ford Coppola was attached to the film, and I was like, "Shit. I'll never get a chance at this." But then, like, eight years later, I was on set doing it. I remember all of us kind of pinching each other and saying, "Man, we're filming On the Road." But I think there were a number of different incarnations of what the movie was gonna be, from Jean-Luc Godard filming it, to Gus Van Sant doing it, to all these other directors who were rumored to be involved—I think Roman Coppola was even going to direct it at one point. There were also a bunch of different versions of the script: one that Barry Gifford had written and one that Roman was planning to write. But I think it was after Sundance, the year that Walter [Salles] was there with The Motorcycle Diaries , that he was approached about possibly doing the film. Obviously, Walter had just come from doing a road film, so I think he was like, "Well, if I'm gonna do this"—which he was unsure of at the time—"then I'm going to have to immerse myself in it." So he ended up going across the country for five or six years doing research before they'd even completed a script, which José Rivera, who worked with Walter on The Motorcycle Diaries, eventually wrote. So it was a long time in the making. I also think that since Walter is Brazilian, he maybe didn't feel like he was the right person to make this movie unless he'd really absorbed it all. I mean, he'd read the book at a young age himself and was very inspired by it.
BRIDGES: Were you familiar with the book before you did the movie?
HEDLUND: Yeah. I'd read it in high school. It's funny that I got to do On the Road because the thing that had the biggest impact on me growing up was reading books. I was very inspired by the book and this spirit of Dean Moriarty and how envious we all are of somebody who can be that carefree. I also always thought of myself as more like the Sal Paradise character—you know, being a listener and writing about a conversation more than being the one that others listened to. So it was interesting that I got to play Dean. I actually signed on to do On the Road before we started on Tron, but we were in flux for a while, just sort of playing the waiting game, trying to get the right budget and the right cast. I think I first met with Walter in March of 2007. But I told Walter that I wouldn't do another film until we did On the Road, so I had a lot of time to do my own research—to go up to San Francisco to City Lights bookstore, to watch video interviews of Neal Cassady with Allen Ginsberg, to sit in Vesuvio [Cafe] and visit Jack Kerouac Alley, to go to the Beat Museum and things. We had time, so Walter and I also did road trips and talked to people, be it family members of some of the people who were around the Beats or other writers. But it was really just about finding something that we could add to the story beyond what was on the page, even if only from life experience. I mean, I grew up around country roads, but this was a different route that these guys took. Eventually, though, it all came to fruition.