“To say that this movie opened me up in a way, sounds really obvious, but it f–king did!” says Stewart, who first read Kerouac’s classic at age 15.
“I’m not just saying this. The book has had such a major effect on who I wanted to be at age 15, which is a pretty important and formidable time.”
Adds Hedlund: “How do you express the fire in which (Kerouac) expressed it? That’s the obstacle and that’s really what you’re thinking about the whole time. But at the end of the day, I feel I’ve become a much stronger person. The thoughts that I had to think, the feelings I’ve felt . . . made me much stronger.”
On the Road sets Stewart as enigmatic teen dynamo Marylou, the woman who rode with and made love to both the wild Dean Moriarty, played by Hedlund, and the cerebral Sal Paradise, played by Sam Riley.
To Stewart’s thinking, the mythmaking mileage of Moriarty and Paradise — pseudonyms for real-life pals Neal Cassady and Kerouac — might never have happened if it weren’t for Marylou, who is based on Cassady’s first wife, LuAnne Henderson, 15 years old when they married.
“It was this bridge,” Stewart says of Marylou/LuAnne’s relationships, both amorous and amigo, with Dean/Neal and Sal/Jack.
“I think that there definitely was a commonality that they could have because of her. They may have found it through something else if she didn’t exist, but there was a trust that they had just because they shared her.”