6 October 2012 4:05 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Garrett Hedlund fell in love with Kerouac's electric prose as a teenager. Now aged 28, he plays Dean Moriarty, the free-thinking spirit at the heart of On the Road. Here, he discusses drugs, his love of the 50s – and the appeal of America's backroads

Did you know much about the beat generation, Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road before you made this film?

Yes. I was 17 when I read the book. I was such a literature freak, I was doing world literature, creative writing and photojournalism at the time. I fantasised about F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby – I loved it, and then I read everything Jd Salinger had to offer. Then I was turned on to Kerouac, and his spontaneous prose, his stream of consciousness way of writing. I admired him so much, and I romanticised so much about the 40s and 50s.

So you weren't always going to be an actor? »

- Damon Wise

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