Monday, 24 May 2010

On the Road to Montreal


Kristen Stewart attends the premiere of "Remember Me" at the Paris Theatre on March 1, 2010 in New York City.
Sam Riley (seen in 2007) is set to play Sal Paradise, widely believed to be Kerouac's alter ego in the novel. Kirsten Dunst is also in the cast, although her role has not yet been revealed.

An already exciting, starstudded year for Hollywood filming in Montreal has just become more exciting and starstudded with the news that the long-gestating movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac's classic novel On the Road will shoot here. Producers of the film have opened an office at Mel's Cite du Cinema studio, and filming is set to begin here Aug. 2.
Twilight fans will undoubtedly be pumped to learn that none other than Twilight starlet Kristen Stewart has one of the lead roles, playing Marylou, the young wife of rebellious, troubled anti-hero Dean Moriarty.

Moriarty will be portrayed by Garrett Hedlund, who is set to be seen in the upcoming Disney science-fiction epic Tron: Legacy. British actor Sam Riley -who made his mark in pictures like 24 Hour Party People and Control -will play Sal Paradise, the main character in the book and generally considered to be Kerouac's alter ego. Spider-Man star Kirsten Dunst, currently shooting in town opposite Jim Sturgess in Upside Down, is also part of On the Road's cast, though it has not yet been revealed who she's playing.

The behind-the-camera talent for On the Road is just as high-profile. The director is Brazilian Walter Salles, whose previous films include The Motorcycle Diaries and Central Station. One of the producers is Godfather auteur Francis Ford Coppola, who acquired the rights to the 1957 novel in 1980 for the measly sum of $95,000.

On the Road, which Kerouac famously wrote on one long scroll of paper, is the defining novel of the beat generation, the subculture that sprang up in '50s America in reaction to the homogeneous culture of the era. The Beats were into jazz, drugs, sex and envelope-pushing writing, and all of that was celebrated in On the Road. Paradise and Moriarty criss-cross the U.S., usually hitchhiking, in a story that inspired a generation of young men and women to grab backpacks and hit the open road.

Stewart will shoot On the Road in between Twilight gigs. The third film in the popular vampire series, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, hits screens June 30, and Stewart -who shot to fame by playing sultry teen Bella Swan in the series -is already busy doing promotion. She will begin shooting the fourth Twilight flick, Breaking Dawn, in October, just after On the Road wraps.

The Kerouac adaptation will film here for most of the month of August, before heading south to New Orleans for a month of shooting. Then it shifts even farther south, with the production moving to Mexico for several weeks before returning to Montreal to wrap the final scenes. The main backer of the $25-million project is Paris-based MK2, which is executive producing, and Montreal producer Lyse Lafontaine from Lyla Films is also working on the movie.

Salles has been developing this film for the past five years; he even followed Kerouac's original trajectory and criss-crossed the U.S. in order to get a feel for the material. Salles's journey will be captured in a documentary he's making, In Search of On the Road.

On the Road is only the latest major flick to touch down in Montreal. This year's lineup also includes the recently wrapped Source Code, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, and Immortals, which features Henry Cavill, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, Kellan Lutz, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff and Luke Evans. Upside Down, with Dunst and Sturgess, is also still filming chez nous. The TV series Blue Mountain State is soon to begin shooting; much of the action in this football-themed sitcom will be shot on the football fields at John Abbott College.

And there are other biggies in the wings. Producers from Paramount Pictures were in town last week scouting locations for a remake of the sci-ficult classic Dune; the producers are choosing between London, Prague and Montreal. There is also talk that our city might host the production of The Moth Diaries. This is the adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Rachel Klein, to be directed by American Psycho director Mary Harron and that film's producer, Ed Pressman. The cast includes Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole and Scott Speedman; the latter was just here playing one of the lead roles in The Trotsky, directed by Jacob Tierney of Notre Dame de Grace.

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