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CANNES – Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and director Walter Salles brought more star power to the Croisette midday Wednesday during the photocall and press conference for Competition film On the Road, based on the famous Jack Kerouac book.
Helping them take over the Palais des Festivals were Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan and the film’s producers.
During the press conference, the cast was asked about shooting in Montreal and preparing for the film by spending time together and studying movies and other creative output from the era the film is set in.
“Montreal is where we started. It was [the] conception,” said Stewart. “I am usually pretty self-conscious about running around a town with my face hanging out, and I didn’t care at all, because I was with these guys. I really loved it. I got to live more in those four weeks than … in a normal lifetime.”
Salles said he set up a Montreal “boot camp” for four weeks where the stars watched films from the likes of Shirley Clarke and others, as well as documentaries on jazz masters of the time. “Then we tried to forget them all and create our own story on the screen,” he explained.
After a reference to a Canadian hockey team flag that Mortensen brought to the event and waved at the beginning, Dunst said she finds Montreal wonderful. “I have worked in Montreal many times, but I only shot a few days in Montreal and San Francisco,” she explained.
Producer Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford Coppola, was asked about a recent Kerouac renaissance of sorts.
“Kerouac never went away,” he argued. “New generations have always discovered him.”
Discussing the long, winding road to finally turning the book into a movie, he said, “My dad bought the rights in 1979, and many different filmmakers and writers tried.”
But when Salles expressed interest, he said he knew the project would finally become reality. “Walter is such a natural filmmaker to take this material on,” Coppola told the crowd. “It was such a natural fit.”
Added Salles, “When Roman and I first talked, what I proposed was to do a documentary in search of the possible film.”
Salles also explained the themes of the film like this: “It’s about the loss of innocence. [It’s about] discovering that this is the end of the road and the end of the American dream. This is not the story about the Beat Generation. It is about what precedes it. It’s about the formative years of that generation.”
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