Interview: John Krokidas on “Kill Your Darlings” and star Chris Evans

A few weeks back,
news broke that a film called Kill
Your Darlings
was heading into production and would feature actor Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Sunshine) as Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac and Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, The Squid and the Whale) as legendary gay poet Allen Ginsberg. Naturally, the news had film buffs and gay bloggers abuzz.

Top row (l to r): Chris Evans, Ben Whishaw, and Jesse Eisenberg
Bottom row (l to r): Jack Kerouac, Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg

Coming on the heels of Milk, film fans are clearly primed for more tales of gay culture’s pioneers and artists. This one’s also been co-written and is set to be directed by a rising gay filmmaker, John Krokidas, and produced by the legendary indie-film mogul Christine Vachon (Poison, Boys Don’t Cry, Hedwig, Far From Heaven), so it’s got a nice gay pedigree already.

Kill Your Darlings also features Ben Whishaw, who recently starred in The International and who played gay in last year’s Brideshead Revisited. Whishaw will play Lucien Carr, a Columbia student credited with bringing together the trio of Ginsberg, Kerouac as well as the gay writer William S. Burroughs.

But Carr is also infamously known for serving time for the 1944 murder of David Kammerer, thought to be his lover. Kammerer, who had fallen in with Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and the rest of the Beat crowd, was found floating in the Hudson River. The mysterious case made headlines at the time and still remains controversial.  Storywise, does it get any juicier? recently interviewed Krokidas about filming this already absorbing story, what it’s like to be a young gay filmmaker working with big stars and a big-time producer, and what we can expect onscreen.

AE: Congrats on getting Kill Your Darlings into production! Why this story? What drew you in to the whole Ginsberg/Kerouac/Burroughs relationship and this murder story?
For me to get involved in any artistic project I work on, I need to have a strong emotional response to it. And when Austin brought this story to me, my first reaction is how furious I got when I discovered in 1944 that you could literally get away with murder by portraying your victim as a homosexual. They called [Kammerer’s murder] an “honor slaying” or the “homosexual panic” defense.

Add to this my love and affection for the Beats. I still remember reading On the Road when I was 16, working at the video store in the mall, and telling the assistant manager that this was “a phony job in a phony mall in a town full of finks!”

I had to beg for my job back two hours later, but the book introduced me to the idea that the idea of wanting to live outside the boundaries of society was a perfectly acceptable choice. And then I learned how these guys were sexually curious and many even openly gay in a time when homosexuality was still considered a psychological defect, and in many states, entirely illegal.

These three authors [Ginsberg, Keruoac and Burroughs], like most of us in college, wanted to change the world and start a revolution. And then, they actually did it. They started a counter-culture revolution that started in the clean-cut Eisenhower era of the 50’s, persisted through the peace movement of the 60’s, then were appropriated by the punk rock  uprising of the 70’s and their legend continues even today. And I remember hearing in college that Kurt Cobain used to have Burroughs come over and recite spoken-word vocals over his guitar solos.

AE: Now the tacky question: How gay is this story gonna be? Any Ginsberg/Kerouac action coming?
I’ll never tell. You have to come see the movie to find out. But let’s just say there is a lot of sexual discovery and exploration in the film, heterosexual, gay, bisexual, and

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