Which makes sense, seeing as the book is dedicated to, and inspired by, his son.
Exactly. There was a moment when he was in a motel traveling with his little boy and he was up in the middle of the night and there was this eerie distant sound across the desert. He was looking out the window and thought “my God.” And that moment blossoms into The Road.
At its core, it’s a story about fathers and sons.
There’s a deep emotional truth to that, and it’s why it relates to so many people—we’ve all had fathers, and there’s that sense of things being lost, and how precious things are in life. It’s so different from any post-apocalypse story that’s ever been told, it sort of taps into the psyche of all our fears in this moment in time. The timing of the film does seem fortuitous. Were there specific, apocalyptic events you could draw on for your research?
The big thing was looking at Katrina, and the recent bush fires in Australia…Hiroshima and Chernobyl, too. We had the most incredible road trip of America through of all its apocalyptic zones, which include driving through the complete economic meltdown of certain cities like Gary, Indiana, and pit mines in Pennsylvania.
How much of this ended up in the film?
Not just the mines, but the urban stuff around Pittsburgh. There’s a place called Breezewood not far from the city that had eight miles of abandoned interstate that had been closed since the late 1960s—stuff like that is just too good to pass up. And Mt. St. Helens, which is just a phenomenal landscape. When you see natural disasters on that scale, it’s very hard to find the words.