By Darlene Donloe
Based on the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon stars as a troubled, drug-addled woman who hits rock bottom after the death of her mother in the film, Wild. At her wits’ end, she begins hiking hundreds of miles along the Pacific Coast trail in an effort to find herself.
This is a new kind of role for Witherspoon, who is known for light-hearted romantic comedies.
Witherspoon really sank her teeth into the role and she has the bumps and bruises to prove it. At the behest of the director of the film, she went without makeup, carried a heavy backpack and even raised her own tent.
I caught up with the actress recently at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about the making of Wild.
Q: Reese, you’ve played some amazing women. How did you know Cheryl Strayed would be one of them?
RW: Just by reading her book. I was blown away.
Q: There are some rough moments in this film. Did you have a lot of bruises?
RW: I’ve got tons of bruises and it’s all his fault. (pointing to director Jean-Marc Vallée
Q: How challenging was it to rough it?
RW: I think my audience has grown up and changed to. i think the fans have grown up. They were 20, they are now 35.
Q: Talk about working with Cheryl.
RW: I feel like we’re all a family. We write each other all the time. She’s so giving. She’s not possessive of her material. She gave us license to do her movie.
Q: Did you like nature?
RW: I liked the frogs. I like nature. I’m not that adventurous. I’ve never hiked more than two days in my whole life.
Q: Preparing for role. What did you do to get in shape?
RW: The whole point was she didn’t know what she was doing. He (Jean-Marc Vallee) didn’t want me to be in shape.
Q: Could you rough if and do any of the things you did in the movie?
RW: I could do some basic stuff. The tent was hard. When you see me put together the tent. (laughter) He wouldn’t let anyone help me or tell me how to put together the tent.
Q: You’re an avid reader. Who are your favorite authors?
RW: I really like Laura Moore, Graham Green. I read and I read and I read. Nick Hornsby.
Q: Cheryl hiked, what would you do to find yourself?
RW: I hike. I travel a lot. back home to Tennessee. Act. Acting is liberating.
Wild is Rated R: Running time 115 minutes.
Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann, Kevin Rankin, W. Earl Brown, Mo McRae, Keene McRae. The film is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed with a screenplay by Nick Hornby.
Wild is in theaters Fri., December 5.