The characters in On The Road are based on real people Jack Kerouac encountered on his travels around America. Find out who Sal Paradise, Dean Moriarty and Carlo Marx really were and who's playing them in Walter Salles' Film4-funded screen adaptation, in cinemas from 12th October 2012.
Sal ParadisePlayed by: Sam Riley (Control; Brighton Rock)
Real-life inspiration: Jack Kerouac
Jack "King of the Beats" Kerouac placed himself at the centre of the action in his seminal novel On The Road, recounting his experiences of hitchhiking and driving across the USA in the wake of Dean Moriarty, a fascinating but frenetic young man he first met in New York in 1947.
Played by: Garrett Hedlund (Troy; Tron: Legacy)
Real-life inspiration: Neal Cassady
Charismatic and chaotic, Dean Moriarty (aka Neal Cassady) is On The Road's most capricious character, yabbering, pilfering, speeding and womanising his way across America with little concern for anything but 'digging it'. Cassady, a celebrated Beat poet in his own right, died aged just 41. He was found comatose by a railway track after a night out at a Mexican wedding.
Played by: Kristen Stewart (Twilight; The Runaways)
Real-life inspiration: LuAnne Henderson
A teen tearaway, LuAnne married Neal Cassady when she was just 15. They divorced soon after, but she continued to be his mistress for many years, accompanying Cassady and Kerouac on several of their journeys in On The Road, and revelling in the thrill of recreational drugs and free love just as much as her male companions.
Played by: Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man; Melancholia)
Real-life inspiration: Carolyn Cassady
Carolyn was Neal Cassady's long-suffering second wife, who bore and raised three of his children, and stuck by him for 12 years, despite his frequent absences and ongoing string of both male and female lovers. She and Kerouac also had an affair, with her husband's encouragement. She finally divorced him in 1963.
Played by: Tom Sturridge (The Boat That Rocked; Being Julia)
Real-life inspiration: Allen Ginsberg
One of the godfathers of the Beat movement and author of the epic poem Howl, Allen Ginsberg was one of the many people to fall under Neal Cassady's spell, remaining his on-off lover for almost 20 years. He was irritated by the Communist insinuations of his pseudonym in On The Road and he and Kerouac are said to have fallen out over it.
Played by: Viggo Mortensen (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy; A History Of Violence)
Old Bull Lee
Real-life inspiration: William S. Burroughs
The oldest member of the Beat Generation, Burroughs acted as mentor to his younger artist friends, indoctrinating them in everything from the philosophy of Nietzsche to morphine consumption. Dean, Sal and Marylou visit him at his family home in New Orleans in On The Road.
Played by: Amy Adams (Enchanted; Doubt)
Real-life inspiration: Joan Vollmer
One of the founding members of the New York Beat circle and the second wife of William S. Burroughs. She had a daughter from her first marriage, and a son with Burroughs, both of whom appear in the New Orleans episode in On The Road. A Benzedrine addict, Vollmer was accidentally shot dead by Burroughs during a game of 'William Tell' that went tragically wrong.
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