Question (Q): You cast the film in 2004, and it took a long time to get it made. Would you still have cast Kristen Stewart after the ‘Twilight’ phenomenon?
Walter Salles (WS): We did (cast Stewart in the beginning of the ‘Twilight’ series). Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, the director of ‘Babel’ and ’21 Grams,’ is a friend of mine, and he had just seen a rough cut of Sean Penn’s ‘Into the Wild.’ We had dinner that night. He said, “Sean’s movie is so beautiful, and there’s this incredible young actress who you should consider for Marylou in ‘On the Road.’ There’s something very impactful about the film. She appears int he last third of the film, but there’s an echo of her presence that’s long lasting, you should meet her.”
I saw Sean Penn’s film, which I also loved. I met Kristen, and she was so knowledgeable about the book, and knew so much about the character. So I invited her to do the film, if it was going to be made. That was a big question, also. It hadn’t been made for so long, that we never knew if it was going to be a reality.
Then, of course, it took us five years to get the financing, which came from independent producers in Europe. All those years, she remained tied to the project, and to do it, says a lot about her, I think.
Q: What kind of research did you do into the gender relationships?
WS: We did very extensive research that took us six years, between 2004 and 2010. I shot a film in Brazil with non-actors between ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ and this. But in doing the research, the characters of the book were still alive. Or we met with the families of the characters, who are not with us anymore. Meeting, for instance, Carolyn Cassady was very helpful to inform the Camille role of Kirsten Dunst.
Carolyn’s a woman of great knowledge and sensitivity. I wanted her to be played by an actress who would not only be extremely talented, but would also have the same degree of intelligence, so I forwarded the invitation to Kirsten. Kirsten was the first actress who signed on for ‘On the Road.’ That was very early on, in 2005, I think. Then Garrett and Kristen and Sam, a little bit later. Everyone was very passionate about this book.
The research allowed us to understand the complexities, and eventually go on beyond the book. When you listen to 50 hours of interviews, who was the person who inspired Marylou in the film, you start to realize there’s so much about her that could be part of the film. Kristen incorporated a lot of that material. Even the voice is influenced by that.
Of course, Garrett met with John Cassady and the whole Cassady family. There were so many hours of interviews with them, and he read all of the Cassady letters, so he was informed. The research was so extensive, they had a better understanding of who the characters were than when we started the film. That allowed us to sometimes improvise some of the characters.
Read Walter's full interview at Shockya.
Via @KstewAngel thank you.