in the project, and he wrote me a beautiful
email about how much he loved it. I trusted he
would do right by me, and he did.”
“[Much] of the ;lm is on the actual trail,
with Cheryl sometimes meeting people, but
the main obstacle is nature,” Vallée says. “It’s an
enemy, but as the ;lm progresses it’s going to
become her friend.
“Her other obstacle is her own self. Cheryl
End of the trail
is the hero, and the villain is her demons. We
;nd that out through ;ashbacks. In the middle
of the ;lm we learn that her mother [played by
Laura Dern] died. Up until then, there’s been
no reference to it. When we ;nd out, we see
her di;erently in the landscape. We go back to
the ;rst scene, which is the boot throwing, and
we understand why she yells her heart out.”
Although concerned with accuracy,
Strayed said her major focus was the mother-
daughter relationship. “I wanted it to be front
and center, as it was in the book,” she says.
“;ere was so much love between us. I told
Jean-Marc, ‘We have to turn up the tenderness.’
Her death was far more traumatic and dramatic
than the sex and drug stu; I did in my grief.”
She is happy with the end result. “Every
time I watch the movie and see Reese claiming to be Cheryl Strayed, it’s strange,” she says.
“She’s re-creating the scenes that I lived. I’m
watching some of the happiest and saddest
moments being re-enacted. It was uncanny.”
Was Witherspoon changed a;er playing
Strayed? Yes, according to Strayed. “She’s
going through her late 30s and moving on to
her 40s, when women say, ‘I’m not going to
look for validation from the outside. I’m
going to de;ne myself on my own terms.’ I
really see Reese doing that.
“She’s founded a production company
[Paci;c Standard] with a vision that’s overtly
feminist. Women haven’t had a fair shake in
Hollywood and in ;lms, and we’re going to
change that. She’s done that as a producer. I
really admire her and recognize that moment
in her life. I’m in it too.”
In addition to producing Wild, Wither-
spoon’s company also made Gone Girl. “;e
power of the female audience is undeniable,”
the actress says. “;ere’s a hunger to see real,
honest, complex, unlikable, unfriendly, unpal-
atable people on ;lm, whether you like them or
not. We see a great range of men. Why not
women too?” C
Nancy Mills is a Los Angeles–based journalist.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27
Photos from top: Cheryl Strayed
10 days on trail; at Crescent Lake,
Oregon; and north of Beldon
The Costco Connection
Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild (Item #958650),
is in Costco warehouses now. The DVD
(#982032) and Blu-ray/Digital HD (#982030)
will be available 3/31.
ABOVE PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHERYL STRAYED
ABOVE BACKGROUND: © INACIO PIRES/SHUTTERSTOCK
BELOW: © PATRICK POENDL/SHU T TERS TOCK
In our digital editions
Click here to see a clip from
Wild. (See page 12 for details.)
OSCAR-NOMINATED FOR his 2009 screenplay An Education, British writer Nick
Hornby is better known for his eccentric,
best-selling novels High Fidelity, About a
Boy and A Long Way Down, all three translated to the big screen by other writers. This
Oscar season, the 57-year-old Hornby is
enjoying awards buzz once again, having
penned the screenplay for Wild.
Costco Connection: With all due respect, a
57-year-old Englishman with limited screen-writing experience is probably not the first
writer considered to adapt Wild.
Nick Hornby: [Laughs] One of the beauties
of the book was that it didn’t matter who you
were, you’re on that trail with this girl.
CC: How did you get the job?
NH: I chased them, simply put. I read the
book as soon as it came out, and when I
CC: As a screenwriter, how do you approach
a book like Wild?
NH: The second time I read the book, I highlighted the stuff that I would like to see on-screen. When I was done with that pass, the
first thing I noticed was that we could have
made a really good two-hour movie that didn’t
involve Cheryl ever going on the trail. There
was so much dramatic incident and conflict
and pain in the back story. There were a lot of
good films in Cheryl’s book, I think.
CC: How closely did you work with Strayed?
NH: Cheryl knew that Reese was going to
make the most faithful version of the book
possible, without being slavishly devotional
to it, so Cheryl had great faith in the process.
Along the way, I showed Cheryl drafts, and
she was remarkably helpful and supportive.
She never, ever said, “You’re messing this
up, buddy.” [Laughs]—J. Rentilly
finished it, I thought, “Oh, wow, that could
be an incredible movie, and I need to find the
people who have bought it.”
When I learned it was Reese [Wither-
spoon] and that they hadn’t made a deal with
another writer yet, I said, “I want a shot at
this.” Because Reese, who is an avid reader,
was familiar with my books, she looked
rather kindly upon my plea.
CC: What was your point of connection with
NH: What Cheryl Strayed did in 1995 wasn’t
about deciding to do some crazy thing so she
could write a book about it; there were just
no other choices left in her life. She did what
she had to do. I kind of understand that. In
terms of tone, Cheryl’s book reminded me so
much of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the
Edge of Town, and that’s an album that I
connect with very, very deeply.