Cannes Film Festival 2012: Five Things To Know About 'On the Road'

on May 10 2012 6:09 PM

On the Road is one of the most anticipated films in the Cannes Film Festival lineup this year. Based on Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel of the same name, the iconic story follows a young man's literal and figurative journey to self-discovery. Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is a struggling writer who has just lost his father to cancer; he decides to embark on a road trip with the free spirited Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). Along the way the two encounter a string of fascinating characters.  The book is considered a signature work of the beatnik generation.

Here are five things to know about the film.

The Cast is Intriguing: Though audiences will recognize Twilight's Kristen Stewart and Tron's Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley isn't as well known. The British actor gave a remarkable performance as doomed rocker Ian Curtis in 2008's Control. However, he has starred in few films since.

Other cast members include Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Danny Morgan, Tom Sturridge, Elisabeth Moss and Viggo Mortensen.

Kristen Stewart Was Cast Before Twilight: Prior to the success of the Twilight franchise, Stewart was a relatively unknown actress. She starred in small budget indie films and avoided the lime-light. It was her 2007 turn in Into the Wild that caught the attention of Salles. Stewart was cast as the carefree young bride, Marylou in 2008, the same year she shot to international stardom. When the project was resurrected in 2010, Stewart chose to stay with the project.  She was reportedly paid a fraction of the $20 million she received to star in the final installments of the franchise.

There Have Been Numerous Failed Attempts:  The year that the novel was released, Kerouac wrote Marlon Brando a letter asking him to star in the film version of his story. Brando, arguably the most respected actor of his day, never replied.

Francis Ford Coppola purchased the film rights to On the Road back in 1979. After several failed attempts at developing a screen adaptation, Coppola hired Walter Salles to direct. The Brazilian filmmaker's previous work includes the political road trip drama The Motorcycle Diaries. Coppola, who serves as the film's producer, was so impressed with his previous work that he had Salles' screenwriting partner, José Rivera write the screenplay.

Pre-production Took Four Years: Salles version of the script was roughly four years in the making. In 2008 the budget for On the Road was slashed by Pathe, the company that was financing the film. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, film's producer, Rebecca Yeldman expressed her devastation:  

The movie was so close, and we had this beautiful cast, she revealed. We were doing everything we could to reduce costs and retain Walter's vision, but we realized we weren't on the same page [as the financers]. It was a very deflating moment.

After the project fell apart, MK2 Productions voiced interest in making the film and in 2010 the project was green lit.

It Was Low Key Production: Filming took place in Montreal, Canada, Gatineau, Quebec, Argentina, Mexico, and California. It was made for a relatively modest $25 million. The shoot lasted 80 days. It was imperative that the filming be concluded by December 2010 so that Stewart could begin filming The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.