Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallee’s impressive follow-up to last year’s Dallas Buyer’s Club is a compelling film about determination, rebirth and taking the road less traveled featuring a fearless lead performance by Reese Witherspoon and a strong supporting turn by Laura Dern. Inspired by a true story of personal triumph, Nick Hornby’s script and Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed and her 1,100 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail are refreshing in the way they never play into stereotypes. Wild opens today in New York and Los Angeles and additional select cities on December 5th.
At the film’s recent press day, I sat down with Witherspoon, Dern ,and Strayed who talked about their reaction when they first read the script, how they felt lucky to be part of the world Strayed created in her novel, what they think makes the film so fresh and compelling, how it’s a universal and timeless tale about a transformative journey that’s been told throughout human existence, Reese and Laura’s personal version of Cheryl’s epic trek, Witherspoon’s upcoming comedy with Sofia Vergara and Dern’s new drama, 99 Homes. Check out our interview after the jump.
First of all, I loved the film and the great performances. For Reese and Laura, can you tell me what was your reaction when you first read the script and what was it about the characters and the premise that made you say this is something I really want to do?
REESE WITHERSPOON: Well I first read the manuscript when Cheryl sent it to me, right before it was published. I read it so quickly. It was just such a fascinating read. Her writing is so compelling, really exploring ideas that I thought should be in film. I loved the idea of learning these great big life lessons and what you can learn from life in this beautiful environment of the Pacific Northwest.
LAURA DERN: I got the extraordinary shortcut straight to this amazing book coming to me because of being asked to be part of the film and also the adaptation. So, I got Cheryl’s story, Reese’s passion, Cheryl on the phone, Jean-Marc’s protective passion, and her world opened up to me, and I felt very lucky to be part of it.
For all of you, what do you think makes this film about determination, rebirth, and taking the road less traveled so fresh and compelling?
CHERYL STRAYED: Because it’s so ancient. When I was writing Wild, I was so mindful of the fact that even though I was telling what’s ultimately really just my own little tiny story, I was telling a story that has been told throughout all of human existence. The oldest stories we have are stories of journey, stories of going into the darkness, and returning to the light changed. And I knew that I was writing in that tradition. I was telling yet another variation on an incredibly universal and timeless theme.
For Reese and Laura, what is your personal version of Cheryl’s 1,100 mile trek along the PCT? When you encounter challenges in your own life, what do you do to open yourself up to new possibilities or just a fresh take?
WITHERSPOON: So many things. I love to read. I love to be in nature. I love to travel. I really like to spend time with close friends. I have wonderful close friends who help me through difficult times, for sure.
DERN: The same. These deep amazing friendships and family that help you walk through life. That’s an incredible part of the journey. I’m a meditator. That’s also an amazing gift.
I know we have to wrap. Can you tell me briefly what you’re working on next?
WITHERSPOON: I have a movie coming out in May with Sofia Vergara. I don’t have a title yet. It’s a comedy.
DERN: I have a film coming out next year called 99 Homes and something hopefully fun soon