Reese Witherspoon/Photo: CC/Eva Rinaldi/Flickr
Wild, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her eleven-hundred-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, experienced solo, hits shelves later this month. Hollywood darling Reese Witherspoon, however, isn’t waiting until then to get her hands on the project. The Oscar-winning actress has purchased the film rights to the book and will also reportedly star in the film, taking on the role of author Strayed.
Following the death of her mother and divorce from her husband, Strayed acts on a percolating impulse to pack up her life, invest in a backpack we come to know as “Monster,” lace up her (ill-fitting) hiking boots, and begin a solitary journey of a lifetime: one thousand, one hundred miles of challenging terrain, traversing drastic spikes and dips in altitude, treacherous snow cover, days that rise above one hundred degrees and nights that fall below freezing. Making the journey even more exciting (for us, anyway) is Strayed’s naive financial plan: a twenty-dollar bill packed into her supply boxes, sent to various stops along the way, often at post offices hundreds of miles apart. Making the journey more exciting for both the reader and Strayed — and, now, ultimately the viewer — is the cast of characters she meets along the way and the kindness and quirkiness they exhibit. What results is a catharsis unlike any other. Strayed is no wimp, and as she invites readers along on her trip, she also invites them along on her transformation from heartbroken and heroin-dabbling lost soul to a woman full of strength and confidence, wisdom and compassion.
Witherspoon will launch the project beneath the banner of her brand-new production company, Pacific Standard. Her partner in Pacific Standard is Bruna Papandrea, who has such films as “Milk,” “All Good Things,” and “Smart People” under her belt. Of Witherspoon taking the project past producing to star in the film, Strayed told The Oregonian, ”I couldn’t be more thrilled. She’s such a wonderful combination of smart and charming. I really feel like she saw my vision and is the perfect person to bring it to the screen.” We think it will be exciting to see Witherspoon take on a grittier role. In the book, Strayed struggles. She goes for days and weeks on end without a shower. Her hair turns the consistency of dry hay. Her feet are bloodied and blistered. We know that Witherspoon has the talent, but even on the occasions we’ve seen her step away from the typical rom-coms such as “Just Like Heaven” and “Legally Blonde” into the shoes of June Carter (“Walk the Line”) and Becky Sharp (“Vanity Fair”), she’s still kept a certain air of polish and prettiness. Wild offers the ideal opportunity for Witherspoon to get her hands — literally and figuratively — dirty.