TORONTO—On the red carpet premiere for her upcoming drama biopic “Wild,” Reese Witherspoon told reporters that she was carrying a backpack that was stuffed with survival gear to help her get into character.
“Wild” is adapted from the memoir of the same title written by Cheryl Strayed, and directed by Canadian film maker Jean-Marc Vallée. In the novel Strayed tells the story of her 1,100-mile solo hike through the Pacific Crest Trail, as a way to recover from a tragic loss in her life.
Witherspoon said that she carried a lot of things in the backpack to make her role as Sheryl Strayed seem realistic.
“Shoes, water, food, books, two sets of clothes, rain gear, snow gear, flashlight, a shovel, toilet paper, a compass, a cup, a stove, a pan, I could go on and on and on,” Witherspoon said at the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 8, 2014.
The backpack weighted around 70 pounds.
At the press conference earlier that day, Witherspoon said the director Valleé wouldn’t have it any other way. When she showed up on set she thought that her backpack would simply be stuffed with newspaper.
“Jean-Marc [Valleé] immediately was like ‘Why doesn’t the backpack look heavy on your back?'” Witherspoon said. Thinking that she could pretend that the backpack is heavy, Valleé said that the backpack indeed needs to be heavy.
“It was great though, because it actually changed the way I walked, and it changed the way it dug into my shoulders, and how quickly my body got tired,” she said.
Although after five weeks of carrying the backpack, she felt sorry to let it go.
“I missed it when it was gone,” Witherspoon said.
She also had to go make-up-less for the entire film.
“Jean-Mark [Valleé] asked that all the mirrors were covered in the hair and make-up trailer, and in my trailer,” she said. Although again it was difficult to imagine, Witherspoon said she was willing to try the look.
“If Sheryl could be brave enough to tell every part of her story, I had to be brave enough to throw away my vanity and go for it,” Witherspoon said.