'Wild': The movie brings Cheryl Strayed's long hike to the screen

The memoir 'Wild,' which is still on bestseller lists years after its publication, tells the story of Strayed's hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Luke MacGregor/Reuters
'Wild' stars Reese Witherspoon (r.) as Cheryl Strayed (l.), the author who wrote a memoir about her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

When Cheryl Strayed published her 2012 memoir, “Wild," which detailed her experiences hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to recover from various personal crises, the book became a hit and is still on bestseller lists years later.

And now the book is being adapted as a film, directed by “Dallas Buyers Club” helmer Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon as Strayed. 

In “Wild,” the author is struggling after the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage. She decides that she wants to embark on a personal quest to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, planning to go more than a thousand miles by herself despite no hiking experience or training. Along the way, she meets other hikers and attempts to come to grips with her problems. 

In an interview with the Monitor, Strayed said, “When I decided to hike the trail I was very literally seeking a different way of being in the world. I was having such a difficult time [due to] grief over my mother. And so I think that I knew that I needed to go somewhere that was like home and the wilderness was that… aside from having kids and marrying my husband, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is the best thing that I’ve ever done.” 

The movie version is adapted by author Nick Hornby, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 2009 film “An Education.” “Wild” also co-stars “The Fault in Our Stars” actress Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann of “Transparent,” and Thomas Sadoski of “The Newsroom,” among others. 

Witherspoon, who is also producing the film, told the New York Times that she thinks the ending of the movie is something different than audiences are used to.

“I said to my producing partner, ‘If we can pull this off, this’ll be the first movie – I believe, I can’t recall – but that stars a woman that at the very end has no money, no man, no parents, no job, no opportunities, and it’s a happy ending,’” the actress said. “How important, how needing of that, are we? How late to the party are we?”

"Wild" opens on Dec. 5.

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