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Expectations of the Robert Redford vehicle A Walk In the Woods should be shifting with news that the director of the Sacha Baron Cohen prank-fueled comedies Borat and Bruno has signed on to helm, replacing Redford. Deadline reports Larry Charles will helm the road trip comedy that co-stars Redford and Nick Nolte as two estranged friends whose bond is put to its limit on an ill-advised hiking trip.
Regarding his hiring, Charles joked with the outlet:
"Growing up in the wilds of Brooklyn, you can see why I was the natural choice to direct A Walk In The Woods. I didn’t see a tree till I was 27. I’ve pitched a lot of projects, but I’ve never pitched a tent. But A Walk In The Woods is not merely about a hike. It is an epic, intense, absurd journey through our collective past, present and future. A journey outward and inward. A journey into darkness but also into the light. And I am honored and humbled to take that walk with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Two true bonafide icons of American cinema. Does anyone have bug spray?"
Little Miss Sunshine's and former Star Wars: Episode VII screenwriter Michael Arndt adapted the script from Bull Bryson's best-selling memoir A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering the Appalachian Trail. The movie will star Redford as the author, an American who after spending many years abroad in England decides to reacquaint himself with the glory of the United States by traversing the Appalachian Trail with an ornery old high school friend (Nolte). The pair pack up warm clothes, camping manuals, and plenty of food, yet are ill prepared for the emotional wear and tear they'll undergo on their 2,000 mile journey. Between the cast, which boasts two celebrated heavyweights, and the arduous nature of such a trek, you might suspect this to be a drama, but Bryson's book was celebrated for its comic telling of his hectic trip. Between this and the road trip element, Charles seems a sharp choice, as ridiculous road trips are clearly his forte.
After eight years of trying to get production on this project rolling, Redford, who is also a producer on A Walk in the Woods, was lined up to direct the adaptation himself - but this was after Richard Linklater (Before Midnight) had dropped the reins. Prior to that Barry Levinson had been considered. The Deadline piece gives no explanation as to why Redford has opted to hand over the director's chair rather than helming himself, but it may just be that he'd rather focus on acting rather than having to also consider every other aspect of the film's production.
A Walk in the Woods is expected to begin shooting in March of 2014.