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Home / Career / Film Productions
Kill Your Darlings
003.jpg Original Release: October 16, 2013
Genre: Biography | Drama | Romance
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: John Krokidas
Screenplay by: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Produced by: Michael Benaroya, Christine Vachon, Rose Ganguzza, Jared Ian Goldman, John Krokidas
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Budget: $5,678,370
Box Office: $1,686,065

In the early 1940s, Allen Ginsberg is an English major at Columbia University, only to learn more than he bargained for. Dissatisfied by the orthodox attitudes of the school, Allen finds himself drawn to iconoclastic colleagues like Lucien Carr, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Together, this gang would explore bold new literary ideas that would challenge the sensibilities of their time as the future Beat Generation. However, for all their creativity, their very appetites and choices lead to more serious transgressions that would mark their lives forever.

Cast & Characters

Daniel Radcliffe (Allen Ginsberg), David Cross (Louis Ginsberg), Dane DeHaan (Lucien Carr), Ben Foster (William S. Burroughs), Michael C. Hall (David Kammerer), Jack Huston (Jack Kerouac), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Naomi Ginsberg), Elizabeth Olsen (Edie Parker), John Cullum (Professor Harrison Ross Steeves), David Rasche (Dean of Columbia University), Kyra Sedgwick (Marian Carr), Zach Appelman (Luke Detweiler).

Production Photos

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Production Notes

Though the principal roles among the cast are men, Krokidas‘ ensemble boasts a sterling collection of actresses in supporting roles, including Elizabeth Olsen as Kerouac’s girlfriend Edie Parker, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Allen’s psychologically unstable mother Naomi Ginsberg, and Kyra Sedgwick as Marian Carr, Lucien Carr’s aristocratic and fiercely protective mother.

Olsen found the social milieu of the film particularly fascinating. “It illuminates the whole relationship between society and politics, especially toward homosexuals,” she shares. “It’s important to have reminders of where our country was at this point. The only reason Lucien Carr didn‘t have to spend his entire life in jail was because he claimed that David was a homosexual, and Lucien supposedly wasn‘t… And the fact that it was actually called an ‘honor slaying’! That seems kind of insane, even for the 1940s. And in New York City, which we usually think of as the most progressive city in the history of our country.”

In landing his pair of veteran actresses to play the key maternal roles, Krokidas well knows how lucky he got. “Kyra Sedgwick is truly fearless. And we needed someone who doesn‘t hold back to play Lucien Carr’s mother—after all, where did his personality come from? Marian Carr is a woman who went so far to protect her own son that she burned his admission papers to a mental hospital from a decade earlier. And Kyra can play that ferocity behind this Midwestern aristocratic façade.”

Of his Naomi Ginsberg, Krokidas observes, “Obviously, Jennifer Jason Leigh has shown that she can portray characters who are emotionally ill in a very honest and beautiful fashion. She’s so brave about revealing her own vulnerability.”

Trivia

  • In 2008, while performing the Broadway play Equus, Daniel Radcliffe auditioned and got the part of Allen Ginsberg. Radcliffe went on to film the last two Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2011) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), and with him unavailable for filming, Chris Evans, Jesse Eisenberg, and Ben Whishaw were cast without Radcliffe. Shortly after, financing for the film fell through. When director John Krokidas started again with the film, he offered the role of Allen Ginsberg back to Radcliffe.
  • In this film, David Cross plays Allen Ginsberg’s father, Louis. In I’m Not There (2007), David Cross played Allen Ginsberg himself.
  • Actor Ezra Miller turned down the role of Lucien Carr, which was then given to Dane DeHaan.
  • Some library scenes were filmed at the New York Academy of Medicine.
  • First feature film directed by John Krokidas.

Release & Reception

Kill Your Darlings received an overall approval rating of 75% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 142 reviews with an average rating of 6.6/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Bolstered by the tremendous chemistry between Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings casts a vivid spotlight on an early chapter in the story of the Beat Generation.” On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 65 out of 100, based on 36 reviews, indicating “Generally Favorable” reviews. The film earned $1,030,064 in limited release.

The Daily Telegraph granted the film a score of three out of five stars, stating that, “Unlike Walter Salles’s recent adaptation of On the Road, which embraced the Beat philosophy with a wide and credulous grin, Kill Your Darlings is inquisitive about the movement’s worth, and the genius of its characters is never assumed”. Reviewing Kill Your Darlings after its showing at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, critic Damon Wise of The Guardian lauded the film for being “the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America’s first true literary counterculture of the 20th century”. Kill Your Darlings, wrote Wise, “creates a true sense of energy and passion, for once eschewing the clacking of typewriter keys to show artists actually talking, devising, and ultimately daring each other to create and innovate. And though it begins as a murder-mystery, Kill Your Darlings may be best described as an intellectual moral maze, a story perfectly of its time and yet one that still resonates today.” Wise awarded the film four out of five stars. Justin Chang of Variety wrote, “A mysterious Beat Generation footnote is fleshed out with skilled performances, darkly poetic visuals and a vivid rendering of 1940s academia in Kill Your Darlings. Directed with an assured sense of style that pushes against the narrow confines of its admittedly fascinating story, John Krokidas’ first feature feels adventurous yet somewhat hemmed-in as it imagines a vortex of jealousy, obsession and murder that engulfed Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac in the early days of their literary revolution.”

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