EXCLUSIVE: Over the years, a number of film directors have taken their shot at “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson’s popular travel memoir circa 1998. Chris Columbus was looking to make it at some point; so was Barry Levinson.
Now the project looks to be getting new life with another veteran filmmaker: Richard Linklater.
The director is set to come aboard and could shoot the independently financed movie as early as this fall, according to Robert Redford, who will produce and star in the film.
A comic tale with travel overtones, “Walk” involves two boyhood friends who go their separate ways and come back later in life for an outdoor adventure. In Bryson’s tome, the writer and his pseudonymously named friend Stephen Katz try to walk the Appalachian Trail, in the process making sly observations about the world around them and their own lives. In many ways, then, it’s a snug fit for the director of the “Before” trilogy, which involves much of the same.
A number of drafts of the screenplay have been overseen by Redford, with the Pulitzer-winning novelist Richard Russo taking a crack at it last year. Nick Nolte, Redford’s friend and sometime-collaborator, will star as Katz opposite Redford’s Bryson.
Linklater, meanwhile, has some heat after his romantic dramedy “Before Midnight” became one of the breakout hits of the Sundance Film Festival. A representative for the filmmaker was not immediately available for comment.
Redford, who made the period courtroom drama “The Conspirator” in 2010 and directed and can be seen in the Weather Underground-themed dramatic thriller “The Company You Keep” opening this Friday (more on that one shortly) says he feels the time is right to make “Walk.”
“‘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,” Redford said. “It will be nice to get back to doing a comedy,” he added.