Wild: Behind the Scenes


On a journey to overcome heroin addiction, come to terms with her mother’s death and father’s abuse, grow from her divorce, and eventually learn to love herself, Cheryl Strayed decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, a 1,100-mile-long hike from the U.S. border with Mexico, to the Canadian border. After completing the ambitious endeavor in 1994 at age 26, Strayed recorded her experience in a memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Now, director Jean-Marc Vallée has transformed her personal trek into a new film (out this Friday) starring Reese Witherspoon. Here, Vallée offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Wild was made.


“Reese getting in a mental state of mind before I say action, as she’s about to shovel like crazy, pissed at herself for being pregnant, for becoming what she became; and as she’s about to experience an epiphany moment: ‘I gotta go back to that store, and walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.’”

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“A cowboy in an open field surrounded by funny looking scarecrows.”

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“A happy director with a happy author [Cheryl Strayed]… laughing at Reese, who is out of the frame, walking with a 70-pound monster bag on her back.”

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“Where is the cinematographer’s shadow on the road? And where the hell is the monster bag’s shadow?”

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“We’re in cold Oregon, in fall, and this location plays for Kennedy Meadows, in warm California. We erased the snow in post-production. Reese doesn’t look happy here. I wonder if it has something to do with the half-mile walk she just did with monster on her back.”

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“Crater Lake. Wow! Right in front of you, idiot, not on the left!”

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“Reese finds herself in front of a mother fucking giant rock. Me: ‘Yes, sweetie, you gotta put the 70-pound backpack on again and climb the rock.’ Reese: ‘Can I use the fake one, please, the light bag?’ Me: ‘No. Action.’”

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