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Bill Bryson is one of America’s most interesting travel writers, able to weave together humor in with what it takes to be a human on Earth, instead of just listing locations and describing their histories. His frequent dabblings in science, history and language are just as interesting, but aren’t as easy to adapt. Robert Redford has been trying to get Bryson’s 1998 travel diary A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail produced for around eight years now, with directors like Chris Columbus and Barry Levinson coming into the fold and leaving without a lot of progress following those announcements.
Let’s hope we aren’t being dragged down an Appalachian Trail of false hopes here, as the L.A. Times reports cult director Richard Linklater has taken the reins on the independently financed project, which Redford is still set to produce. Linklater is still riding the buzz from the third film in his Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy Sunrise/Midnight series, which our own Katey took quite a liking to. Fingers crossed, Redford said Linklater could have the film in production as early as this fall.
A Walk in the Woods will feature Redford playing Bryson and Nick Nolte as Bryson’s recovering alcoholic friend Stephen Katz as the two men share various observations about the entirety of the world around them as they make the 2,100 mile trek. Considering the beginning of Linklater’s career was filled with existential dialogue-driven films, this seems like a perfect fit on all fronts.
Redford, whose last directorial efforts were the thrillers The Conspirator and the upcoming Weather Underground-inspired thriller The Company You Keep, doesn’t seem too angry to leave the high stakes dramas alone for a while.
“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,” says Redford. “It will be nice to get back to doing a comedy.” And it will be nice to see Nick Nolte play Nick Nolte in a movie again.