Reese Witherspoon's "Wild" had its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week It wowed critics with its inspiring message, gorgeous cinematography and what's being described as yet another Oscar-worthy performance by the actress.
Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, who in real life decided to walk 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to find peace and escape a life that was crumbling around her. She then turned that story into a best-selling memoir that inspired millions of readers.
"I was failing in so many ways in my life, and my biggest fear was that I would fail again on this trip," Strayed told Oprah Winfrey. "I simply could not fail. I was too proud to call my friends and say, 'You know how I was gonna hike that trail? I didn't do it.' So, no matter what, no matter what, I had to get that pack attached to me and go."
In an interview with Biography, Witherspoon says that beyond the themes of survival and self-discovery, "Wild" is also an extremely important film for how it presents female sexuality.
“I just think it’s such an important movie about female sexuality… so many times we as women are told to be ashamed, that you kissed that guy or you had sex with that dude in college,” Witherspoon told the site. “And we’re told to be ashamed of so many things, and I feel like this movie just says ‘It’s gonna be OK’… it’s just such a liberation I think, particularly for young women, to know that it’s really OK to have these explorations.”
"Wild" was shot last October in various locations in Oregon, with director Jean-Marc Vallee ("The Dallas Buyer's Club") choosing to use only natural light for filming. According to Witherspoon, in order to keep the realism of hiking for days on end intact, all of the mirrors in her trailer were covered so that she could not adjust her hair or add any makeup.
"By far, this is the hardest movie I’ve ever made in my life," she told Vulture. "I didn’t hike a thousand miles, of course, but it was a different kind of physical rigor. I’d run up a hill with a 45-pound backpack on, and they’d say, 'Wait, that backpack doesn’t look heavy enough. Put this 65-pound backpack on and run up the hill nine or ten times.' We literally didn’t stop shooting in those remote locations — we wouldn’t break for lunch, we’d just eat snacks. No bathroom breaks. It was crazy, but it was so wonderful. It was complete immersion, and I’ve never felt closer to a crew. We literally pulled each other up the mountains and carried each others’ equipment."
Check out a trailer below. "Wild" hits theaters in early December.
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