With a new year upon us, we’re feeling all kinds of inspired, most notably by forthcoming Oscar nominated, Wild. Starring Reese Witherspoon and based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed that chronicles her journey (on foot) across a 1,100 mile trek in the US, hers is a story that will resonate far and wide as each and every one of us will face similar struggles at some point in our lives.
Wild soon piqued the interest of the likes of Oprah, earning its prime position as the first selection in her book club back in 2012. Add to that its inclusion in the number one spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, it was inevitable that Strayed’s story would soon be adapted for the big screen.
In an exclusive interview with IMAGE Magazine, Reese Witherspoon recalls the time she read the story, and how it struck a deep chord within her.
“About four months before [the book] came out, my agent called me and said, ‘there’s this book about a girl, I don’t know if it’s any good…’ but I was going to New York for the weekend and started reading it and I couldn’t put it down. I read half on the way there and the other half on the way back. I was sitting on the plane, crying, and when I got off, I immediately called my agent and said I don’t know who this girl is, but I have to talk to her. I feel like i know her.'”
(Read the full interview in the January issue of IMAGE, on shelves now)
So compelling has Strayed’s journey been, however, not every juicy detail could make it into the film, given the time constraints of movie making. Fear not, though, as Cheryl herself has shared some tidbits with Oprah that you won’t find on screen.
On The Scene from the Book That She Hated to Cut but Had To
“One of my favorite scenes was about my ex-husband and I living in Brooklyn. It was New Year’s Day, and we heard this strange yowling coming from the ceiling of our bedroom closet. So we took a hammer and clawed away until we’d removed all the plaster and Sheetrock. Sitting inside the walls were these two emaciated kittens completely covered in soot and grease. They’d obviously been lost in the innards of the building for weeks.
We saved them, but just finding them was symbolic in a lot of ways, about who we were and what was happening in our marriage at the time. The two of us were like those kittens, lost in the innards of the building. We couldn’t find our way out. But I couldn’t get the scene to work within the trajectory of the story. So I took it out, which was so, so, so painful.”
On How She Met Her Husband
“At the end of the trail, I got to Portland and I had 20 cents. A friend of a friend was having a yard sale, and he said, “Hey, you can sell your stuff if you need to raise some money.” So I took my CDs and books and clothes out of storage and put them up for sale. Pretty soon, this incredibly handsome man comes riding up on his bicycle. I immediately throw myself at him. I start flirting like crazy, and he buys my pencil sharpener in the shape of an airplane. As we’re chatting, I somehow end up telling him, “I just finished hiking the PCT.”
He asks, “Are you Cheryl?” He knew my friend who had sent me all the boxes along the trail. He’d been hearing stories about me all summer. Then he said: “I’m going out to dinner tonight with my friend Brian. Why don’t you join us?” So my friend Lisa and I showed up at this Tex-Mex place called Esparza’s, and my new handsome pal from the yard sale walks in…with Brian, who was more handsome (to me). The handsomest man on the planet.”
On The Mistake She Never Made Again
“Brian (her husband) and I spent a few months dancing around about how we felt, and then we slept together. I woke up the next morning and said to him: “You know what? I’m done with this time in my life. I don’t want to do this anymore.” I’d taken a step backward, and I had to pull myself out of it really fast because it made me feel so bad about myself.
I asked him if we could be friends, and we did become friends—but then we fell madly in love with each other. Oddly enough, Brian was the last person I regret having slept with. When we decided not to continue the sexual side of things, he was also at the same moment in his life. He’d been really promiscuous as well, and we both thought, “No more. We’re going to change that part of our lives.” So we did that together.”
Wild hits Irish cinemas January 16th. Don’t miss it.