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“Big Sur” star Jean-Marc Barr: “I’ve been living Kerouac all my life. So there was nothing to play”

Jack Kerouac has been the subject of more than a dozen films. However, most of these have concentrated on the years before and during "On the Road." In Walter Salles’ recent adaptation of Kerouac’s classic novel, Sam Riley played Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac as a passive observer who, eventually, furiously pounds out a masterpiece on his typewriter scroll. In John Krokidas’ "Kill Your Darlings," out now, Jack Huston portrays Jack as a merry college prankster, a guy who throws a football indoors to his fellow Beats. These young actors look lost trying to play the late, great writer. Their performances feel phony, kid stuff, not lived in.

Perhaps filmmakers depicting Kerouac have been looking at the writer’s life and work through the wrong end of the telescope. The adventures Kerouac and his co-conspirator Neal Cassady had traveling across America, rejecting conformity and finding themselves, are certainly important and entertaining. To truly illuminate the mythical character of Kerouac, however, it is far more revealing to see what the overnight celebrity and fame did for — and to — him.

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