When doling out an invitation for a road trip, judiciousness is vital. You’re about to spend a lot of time in a very confined space with one person, and you’d prefer he or she not be a psychopath, a zealot or have a horrendous business idea that you never hear the end of. No, you’ll want someone cool in the co-pilot seat, someone who’d make a cross-country haul fun, interesting and memorable. You’d also want the person to bring a skill to the journey. Whether that manifests as witty repartee or having a good right hook when things go south in a dingy juke joint, it doesn’t matter, but no one should ride for free. While we all have a few close friends who may tick the right boxes, we got to thinking about boldface names who would fit the bill perfectly. Below, our top picks.
Reedus may not be acting terribly hard when he becomes Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead. It’s not a stretch to envision Reedus roaring down the highway alone, on a hog, doing whatever he needs to survive and being cautiously wary about anyone who should cross his path. While Reedus may not carry a crossbow in real life, you get a definite sense he’d be a crack shot within minutes of picking one up. He just exudes a manly, adventurer’s spirit. That precise ethos is why AMC green-lighted Ride With Norman Reedus, a six-episode unscripted series that follows Reedus and a riding companion on various bikes around the country, hitting different cities to explore the motorcycle culture flourishing within each. It started filming this week, and Reedus hinted the first guest will be a big one. Norman, we’d ride with you anytime.
Along with the rest of the universe, we were riveted by Adele’s turn at “Carpool Karaoke” for The Late Late Show with James Corden. This woman can spit, evidenced by her crushing of Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye’s track “Monster.” We only got a 15-minute taste of what riding around with the goddess of song, but it seemed perfect. Adele’s down to earth, down to clown around and unable to keep warm beverages from spilling onto her lap in a moving vehicle. Celebrities really are just like us. She’d be ideal for a long trip where you could turn off the radio and fire song titles at her to perform. (We’d start with Warren G’s “Regulators.”) And you can ask her to do “Hello” every other song, like the real, actual radio. Lastly, her management had to surreptitiously change her Twitter password and take control of the account because she was getting drunk and tweeting inappropriate things. That makes her sound even more glorious. We’d never censor you, Adele. You keep doing you, girl.
His characters are obnoxious to travel with, evidenced by The Hangover’s Alan and Due Date’s Ethan Tremblay, but Galifianakis would be a dream. He wouldn’t bring a giraffe or spend all your gas money on pot (though if he wanted to pick up an eighth, no argument here), or be useless should you get in a fight with a handicapable veteran manning a Western Union store. What he will do, however, is test out new material and new characters and slip in some of those quiet one-liners that we’ve come to know and love him for. Hell, he could probably make reading highway signs funny. We’d give him a CB radio and let him troll some truckers. He’d also be welcome at any IHOP or Waffle House or whatever greasy spoon you’re pulling off the interstate to chow down at, because he’s probably got some solid bits about cheap diners.
At first blush, Cruise seems to be an annoying psycho with a bad business idea (Scientology being very much a business), but provided you can keep him from talking about L. Ron or Xenu of thetans for the bulk of the time on the road, Cruise would be a good companion. For starters, he’s the kind of guy who’d want to pay for everything, perhaps in a bid to get you to like him, perhaps because he’s truly that benevolent, but either way, you’ll not need your wallet. Secondly, Cruise does all his own stunts, including driving, and he likes to go fast. Let him take the wheel and sit back. You can ask him about the $30,000 Indy car replica he bought for daughter Suri, or his time behind the wheel of an actual F1 car, or about how he trained for Days of Thunder. Or ask him what he really thought about being skewered on South Park. Just don’t ask him where David Miscavige’s wife is.
Back in 2013, Elba hosted an underrated BBC series entitled King of Speed that saw the Brit traversing the globe to find various motorsports to attempt to master. Whether he was in Detroit to talk about underground racing or taking a few turns at Watkins Glen in a NASCAR sled, Elba proved time and again to be a proper greasemonkey. And a dedicated one, never willing to ease off the throttle until he could master the task at hand...or he bins it. It’s unlikely you’ll be road-tripping in a rally car, so you’ll be fine handing the keys to Elba. Or you can just have him sit shotgun and regale you with all his tales of automotive glory from places and races you’ve only dreamed of attending.
The Star Wars actor loves motorcycles and long trips. So much so that, back in 2004, he and a friend embarked on an epic journey: 19,000 miles across 13 countries in just 115 days. They travelled from London to New York City, traversing all of Western and Central Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Siberia and Canada, only stepping off their bikes at the Channel, the Zilov Gap and for a flight between Russia and Alaska. In preparation for the trip, which was filmed and aired as Long Way Round, McGregor was trained in first aid by doctors, survival skills by former SAS agents and learned off-road bike riding and maintenance. Last year, he announced he’s trading in his BMW R 1200 GS Adventure (the bike used in his trek) for a Moto Guzzi Stelvio for a trip from California to the southern tip of Chile for his next excursion. We’d ride abreast of the intrepid Scotsman any day.
The German is the ultimate road-trip partner, in that you’d let her drive as fast and ferocious as she wants. Try not to scream, O.K.? The Queen of the Nürburgring got her start by piloting one of the BMW M5 “Ring taxis” around the infamous track, giving passengers one hell of a journey. While she stopped ferrying folks at breakneck speed back in 2011, she’s been tapped by BBC to be a presenter on the next iteration of Top Gear, and she’s off to a strong start—literally. She’s reportedly made host Chris Evans vomit while driving him around Laguna Seca in an Audi R8 V10. So, maybe pack a few extra sickness bags before you hop in the passenger seat.