"A Walk in the Woods" has taken a big step forward.
The long-planned adaptation of Bill Bryson's 1998 memoir has begun production with director Ken Kwapis ("He's Just Not That Into You") at the helm, the film's backers, Wildwood Enterprises and Route one Films, announced Monday.
The film stars Robert Redford as an aging travel writer who decides to hike the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail with an estranged high-school friend (played by Nick Nolte), bickering and making wry observations about their lives and the world around them in the process.
Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal and Emma Thompson also joined the cast recently. Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine") wrote the script.
Kwapis called Bryson's book "ne plus ultra of travel memoirs" in a statement, and added, "What excites me is giving two legendary dramatic actors the chance to flex their comedic muscles."
Redford has been attached to the project for some time, and has overseen a number of drafts of the screenplay. He is producing the film with Bill Holderman and Chip Diggins. Speaking to The Times about the movie last year, he said, "'A Walk in the Woods' is the kind of movie that has something to say but can also be really commercial because it's just so funny."
Over the years, a number of different directors have taken a shot at the project, including Chris Columbus, Barry Levinson and Richard Linklater. Kwapis, for his part, has had some success on the big screen, though more often with female-oriented films such as "Not That Into You" and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants."
For the director, the biggest challenge would seem to be translating Bryson's ruminative book into something that works on screen. That said, a number of less-narrative-oriented nonfiction books have successfully made the jump from the bookstore to the multiplex in recent years, including "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Moneyball."