Brad Pitt and Billy Crudup to Go On the Road

After 50 years of speculation, anticipation, and false starts, On the Road, Jack Kerouac's seminal novel about the Beat Generation, is finally making its way toward the big screen, the BBC reports — with one of this generation's biggest stars attached to star.

Brad Pitt, who's had a long-standing interest in the project, is lined up to play Dean Moriarty, the character closely based on Kerouac's free-spirited road-tripping buddy, Neal Cassady. Billy Crudup is set to portray Kerouac's alter ego, Sal Paradise, a role that through the years has been attached to names as diverse as Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp, who's a huge fan of the author.

Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola, who bought the rights to the book many years ago, will produce, while Tigerland's Joel Schumacher will direct.

At an auction in May, Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay bought the original On the Road manuscript for slightly less than $2.43 million. Kerouac typed the novel on a 120-foot-long roll of teletype paper in a benzedrine-fueled three-week writing binge in April 1951. Irsay plans to take Kerouac's legendary masterpiece on a tour across the United States.