The Brit tried out to play Sal Paradise in early 2009 but didn’t hear back from producers for 18 months, so he was convinced he had missed the chance to star in the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic 1957 novel.
High-profile actors including Marlon Brando, Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe have previously been tipped to portray Paradise on the big screen, and Riley was initially pleased about joining their company – before learning he had won the part.
He tells the BBC, “It’s the sort of part that fills you with anxiety that you’re gonna have to play it. And I was almost quite happy when it didn’t happen the first time I auditioned. I thought it was cool to be on that list of nearly Sals.”