Beat generation author William S. Burroughs is getting a biography treatment according to Variety, in a motion picture starring Kristen Stewart (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy) and Ben Foster (Hell or High Water, Hostiles).
The film will focus on the complex relationship between Burroughs (Foster), his common-law wife and muse Joan Vollmer (Stewart) and a third party likely to be Jack Kerouac, portrayed by Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk, Tolkien).
Foster, who is also set to helm the project spoke regarding the spirit of the film:
“Our film is kind of anti-Beat. We meet our star-crossed lovers in New York City, head to the Texas border, roar through Mexico City’s underbelly and end up in the Amazon jungle. This film is about love, sex and self-discovery in all of its lush, dark and often hilarious complexity,”
Burroughs would eventually and accidentally shoot Vollmer in a drug-fuelled attempt to duplicate William Tell two years before publishing his breakout work Junkie, but he would be an available spokesperson for the Beat generation and the horrors of drug addiction until his death in 1997.
No filming dates have been announced at this time.
I remember reading Naked Lunch (arguably Burroughs’ most famous work) sometime around high school and being painfully aware that there was a strong cultural element that didn’t translate for someone born decades away from the heart of the Beat generation; sure there was shock value and brain-blending randomness not to mention that Burroughs managed to keep his counterculture guru mystique for the entirety of his life (that nonsense can be appealing to a then-teenaged nerd like myself).
But the more I got to see of Burroughs, the more it seemed that the people who venerated him were the ones who celebrated the exact worst moments of his life, which he made the mistake of publishing in books which in turn made him famous.
There’s some sort of element of Greek tragedy there which I hope are picked up on by Foster and co.
What are your thoughts Wasteoids? Is this a love story you’d want to see played out in all of its self destructive glory?
Sound off below!