Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Is On the Road on the Road?

"...the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"

Nearly four decades after Frankie Ford Coppola bought the movie rights to Jack Kerouac's On the Road, the long-awaited film may finally be coming to the silver screen. Pretty exciting stuff.

"Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera, the men behind The Motorcycle Diaries, are busy preparing a script for producer Francis Ford Coppola. If it's deemed acceptable, Focus Features will make the film for Universal," reports's Roger Friedman.

But the key to this movie won't be the script, which will likely be devoid of any Hollywood-defined action. The make-or-break factor will be the casting, the actors playing Sal Paradise, Dean Moriarty, Carlo Marx, Marylou, Ed and Galatea Dunkel (Galatea Dunkel could be a really funny movie character), Slim, Remi and Old Bull Lee. Fuck that task up, and the movie will be destined for failure. Find the perfect matches for these characters and you've got magic. Super duper, we're makin' movies.

More specifically, the actor who plays Dean Moriarty will be the key to the success of On the Road. Imagine Scarface without Al Pacino, or Taxi Driver without Bobby DeNiro, or even Swingers with a mis-cast Trent. Now multiply them all together and you have the seriousness of finding the right Dean.

The epic hero of the novel and larger-than-life legendary character is based on Kerouac's larger-than-life legendary friend Neal Cassady, a personal hero of mine. Piecing together Neal's life from his early memoir The First Third, his ex-wife Carolyn Cassady's account in Off the Road and his later years in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests, this guy's one of the cooler cats in American history, a beatnik and a hippie, a man who lived life with zest as fast as he drove across the country.

"Billy Crudup is to play the Kerouac character, possibly with Colin Farrell as Moriarty. But the roles of Carlo Marx, based on Allen Ginsberg, and Old Bull Lee, the William Burroughs character, are yet to be filled," the Telegraph (UK) reports.

Ugh, Colin Farrell? Really? He's the best we can come up with? Brad Pitt was also rumored to play Dean back when film cancer Joel Schumacher was on board to direct, which would probably be a good choice, but who knows. I'm doing my darndest to think of a good actor for the role, but I just can't find anyone that can pull this guy off. Personally, I think they should go with a no-name actor...

Many people find On the Road to be boring and overrated, but I absolutely loved it. I finished the book for the first time my freshman year in college, the night before some of us ate mushrooms at a friend's place. And it took every ounce of strength I had not to take off across the country on a Sal-and-Dean adventure. I never would have gone through with it, but the book was just so inspiring to me, a young writer from a lost generation taking to the road with his best friends in tow, darting back and forth these United States. It meant something to me, it made sense to me, it made me want to be a writer more than anything else before it.

And that experience isn't unique to the Ace Cowboy. Many people feel the same. Thus, with so much at stake, Coppola and the Boys better figure out how to do this right. Otherwise, the book's fans won't be mad to live, mad to talk and mad to be saved, we'll just be mad. Mad and disappointed. Don't fuck this up, Francis.


At 4:21 PM, Blogger ahren said...

unfortunately he's too old now, but being a coppola movie-- matt dillon would be the obviously choice it seems.

it seems a lot of people really dislike matt dillon, but he's aces in rumblefish and the outsiders as far as i'm concerned.

collin farrell is a terrible choice. might as well get ashton kutcher.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger ahren said...

also, i'd like to nominate owen wilson for the role.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Well, there's always Entourage star kevin Dillon. I agree, Ahren, I like Dillon...but I'm not sure he coulda pulled off Cassady. He's great in Beautiful Girls by the way...underrated flick.

A Dignan-esque Owen Wilson would be good for the role, but he's gotten too mainstream! I think the character might call for an unknown, as I said in the post.

Actually, Johnny Depp could be perfect...he's too pretty for Neal, but I'm sure he'd get the movements down.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger MDS said...

Glad to hear you like Beautiful Girls. I'm a fan as well. Natalie Portman really steals the show.

For On the Road, how about Jack Black? I think he'll show great range as soon as some director has the balls to cast him in something other than a wacky comedy role.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Kenny Alias said...

"The bus came by and I got on, that's when it all began. There was cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to never never land."

We're talking about the driver of the Further Bus here. Is Matthew McConaughey not the perfect choice here. He's openminded and funky enough to get into the character mentally. And he is a good enough actor to be believably crazy. Actually, he is crazy. The dude was arrested for playing bongos naked and stoned off his ass for christ's sake. If that doesn't shout Neal Cassidy I don't know what does.

Plus, McConaughey would be smart to do it. His dude status has been in serious decline since he started doing chick flics like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Kenny, and you may know this, but for the edification of all our readers...The craziest part about those lyrics in The Other One is that Cassady died the night they were performed for the first time.

I looked it up to make sure, and according to short-shorts Weir:

"Basically, it's a little fantastic episode about my meeting Neal Cassady. I wrote the two verses - that's all there is to it, really, is two verses - and we played the gig that night and came home the next day, and when we came home we learned the news that Neal had died that night."

At 7:30 PM, Blogger jp said...

Dude, you totally un-linked me. Not cool.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

No I didn't.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Kenny Alias said...

I didn't know that Ace. That's pretty crazy.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger jp said...

Nice recovery. :)

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a little late for this conversation but has anyone seen A Home at the End of the World? It is written by the genius Michael Cunningham, which is totally besides the point...anyway, Colin Farrell is incredibe in this movie- he's no Ashton Kutcher.


Post a Comment

<< Home