It’s been a while since Robert Redford fans have had reason to rejoice in the way that, say, Johnny Depp fans could when he announced he’d be playing the William Powell role in the upcoming revamp of “The Thin Man.” Of course, it’s not often that kind of perfectly compatible material crosses any actor’s inbox. But this could be one of those moments … if there is any truth to the tentative report in today’s LA Times that Redford and Nick Nolte are poised play the lead roles in an adaptation of Bill Bryson‘s A Walk in the Woods.
Redford would play Bryson and Nolte would costar as his college buddy, Stephen Katz, who accompanies the expat author on an epic hike along the Appalachian Trail. With precious little wilderness experience or even basic camping skills between them when they embark on the 2,100-mile journey, Bryson and Katz fall prey to a litany of obstacles (think: incompetent Boy Scouts) and challenges along the way. Ultimately, however, the craggy, crusty duo emerge from the experience with new insight into what it means to walk on the wild side and how that relationship with nature informs the American psyche.
In other words, there has seldom been a more perfect match of man to material since Redford directed “A River Runs Through It,” based on Norman Maclean‘s memoir about fly fishing and the complexities of brotherly love. Redford is never more at home on screen or behind the camera than when he’s carving a path through some majestic swath of quintessentially American wilderness. He’s always seemed as much a part of the national landscape as the Colorado River he and Butch Cassidy plunged into or the Wasatch Mountains, where he presides over the Sundance Film Festival each year as it lures city slickers into Utah’s snow-covered hinterlands.
Though Redford and Nolte’s involvement in A Walk in the Woods is not quite a done deal, if it does happen, this project is a natural. In fact, we’d be willing to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail ourselves just to see these two actors bring Bryson’s journey to life.