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“I genuinely felt like I could look up in a moment where I wasn’t getting somewhere or a moment where I was feeling like I was reaching too hard or too desperately,” said Stewart. “I felt her. And I would have never had that without her daughter or those tapes.”

Whether “On the Road,” the film, will seem as relevant to audiences now remains to be seen. Mortensen suggested the story bears particular contemporary resonance in a time of youthful protests over the economic collapse and in the Arab Spring.

Said Mortensen: “I think it was worth the wait.”