Spending time with Garrett Hedlund

"On the Road" is in theaters now.

Upon my entering the room, Garrett Hedlund asks, “What time is it?” I counter by asking if he really wants to know. “Nah, doesn’t matter,” he replies with a shrug. Such is the life of an actor promoting a film. And in the spirit of his latest, the screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation classic “On the Road,” Hedlund is trying distinctly to go with the flow.

This is quite a revealing role for you. How do you tackle on-screen nudity?

Another day, another buck. (laughs) No, it’s fine. It’s paying homage to the characters that you read about in the book. You can’t let your fears and ambitions get in the way of showing the true version of what you read and what intrigued you in the first place.

Is there added pressure in taking on important literary material?

My most honest explanation is it’s more self-imposed pressure than anything if you respect these people as much as you feel like you do. I respected the book so much and I admired Neal Cassady/Dean Moriarty so much in the way he approached life, so I had more pressure within myself to push myself to go there and live life in that manner and experience it to the fullest, to be able to not seem like you’re acting every day. It was like this chunk of time was our opportunity to be as crazy as you want to be or be as wild or free as we wanted to be. It’s like, you only get one shot. Do not miss your chance. (laughs) Don’t quote the Eminem part, please.

Your co-star Tom Sturridge isn’t the only young actor to take on playing Allen Ginsberg. James Franco did it recently in “Howl,” and Daniel Radcliffe plays him next year in “Kill Your Darlings.” Which Ginsberg do you think would win in a fight?

Tom’s dirty, man. Just watch him dance. He will be unpredictable when it comes to a square-off. He’s got these moves. If you’d seen the scenes in the alleyway where he jumps on my back like a monkey, you don’t know what somebody could do to you in that situation. If they had a pencil, you could be jugular-ized. (laughs)

Do you worry about stuff like that when you’re hanging out with Tom?

No, no. I think… Tom’s so great, let’s go with Tom.


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