This Friday, the On The Road team spent its last day on the Magnolia Lane plantation before resuming its travels. One of the first sequences shot showed the departure of Sal (Sam Riley), Dean (Garrett Hedlund) and Mary Lou (Kristen Stewart), leaving behind them their hosts Jane and Old Bull Lee (Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen), their two children (played by two pairs of small blond actors) and the Dunkel couple, Ed and Galatea (Danny Morgan and Elisabeth Moss).
So there were many people on the wooden steps in the midday sun, which was drying up all the rain of the previous day. Walter Salles - director - and Eric Gautier - Director of Photography - initially chose to use wide shots, the classic choreography for farewells, the embraces, bags are loaded into the trunk of the Hudson, the car doors slam, the car moves away.
Then Eric Gautier threaded his way through the crowd, his camera on his shoulder. Looking at the small portable monitor, lots of things were suddenly visible: the coolness of Mary Lou in front of Old Bull Lee, the melancholy of Ed Dunkel as he sees his friends leave, Sal Paradise's re-awakened energy at the idea of moving on. It was sufficient for Sam Riley to simply increase his pace, the camera accompanying him, splitting the small crowd so that this last idea is captured. These moments crystallize under the direction of Salles, and give clarity to this long Southern break in the journey of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty.
Once the sequence was in the can, Walter Salles made a small speech, the first one of the day, to mark the departure of Elisabeth Moss, who returned to the shooting of Mad Men. Everybody applauded. We applaud a lot at a shoot: at the end of a particularly difficult scene, the last shot of the day or a new unintended event.
And so the boss of Candy Quality Reptiles was honored. Among the testimonies recorded by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee in Jack's Book, some claim that Joan Vollmer, William S . Burroughs' partner, liked to sweep a dead tree to bring down lizards (Joan Vollmer lived under the permanent influence of the huge quantities of benzedrine which she ingested). Perhaps a question of climate, of period, or of scarcely reliable memories, but in any case it seems that modern lizards inhabit live trees of particular species. It was thus necessary to plant one tree in front of the plantation, and to call on Candy Quality Reptiles' service. A large team (the problem with lizards is their entourage) came to put a small enclosure around the shrub and began to extract dozens of reptiles from boxes full of air-holes. The small green animals rushed between the green leaves, complicating Eric Gautier's task.
In her shapeless dress, with her tangled hair, Amy Adams resumed her hallucinated expression (we would never believe it by looking at Julie and Julia, but she can play scary and has no hesitation in doing so), and attacked the lizard-tree with a broom. The last shot of the actress showed her feet covered with green animals. When she had managed to extract a lizard which had trapped itself in her matted hair, she also received compliments from the director, and the team said its farewells to the plantation.
It was nine o'clock in the evening, but the day was not over. In a nearby fire station, a studio had been improvised, where Bull Lee must soliloquize, in order to inhabit a nightmare which will disturb Sal Paradise's sleep, much later in the story, much later in the plan of the shoot. Viggo Mortensen, who likes to tinker, made a collage from texts by Burroughs, that he recited in a spectral voice. And to end, he read, in French, a page of the Voyage au bout de la nuit: "to travel is very useful, it works on the imagination."