After 30 years trying to adapt Jack Kerouac’s seminal 1957 Beat Generation travelogue On The Road into a feature film, producer Francis Ford Coppola‘s cast has finally come together. Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen are the latest to join the ensemble cast that already includes Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley (Control) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy). Walter Salles is directing from a script by Jose Rivera, who worked with Salles on The Motorcycle Diaries. On The Road goes into production today.
Adams will play Jane, the “emotionally damaged junkie mother of two children and the wife of Old Bull Lee.” Mortensen will play Lee, a character based not-too-loosely on Kerouac’s fellow literary iconoclast William S. Burroughs.
On The Road won’t be Adams’ only foray into the 1960s’ mythological past – she’s also recently attached to play singer Janis Joplin, a brow-raising bit of casting news of which we were (and remain) skeptical.
Although I’m not entirely sold on Coppola and Salles’ casting choices either, I am optimistic about the inclusion of screenwriter Jose Rivera, whose Motorcycle Diaries was exceptional. On The Road obviously has a similar vibe and appeal, so I’m excited to see what Rivera does with it. Garrett Hedlund could also be excellent as Kerouac’s fellow-traveler Dean Moriarty (the pseudonym for Beat icon Neal Cassady), although I’m waiting to see how he fares headlining Tron before giving my final blessing.
Either way, On The Road will remain a significant oddment of Americana – a book that captured a unique and transformative moment in this country’s youth culture – I just hope that Salles and Coppola can give Kerouac’s novel the treatment it deserves.