Is Bill Bryson's bestseller on the movie mogul's horizon?
Hollywood heavyweight Barry Levinson (Diner, Good Morning, Vietnam) was at this month's AFI Dallas International Film Festival to support his upcoming comedy, What Just Happened? Being lucky enough to get to speak with him for a few minutes on the red carpet, we made sure to ask him about the status of another upcoming project, an adaptation of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.
Anyone even remotely interested in the travel writing genre will know of Bryson, who has eight uniquely hilarious and engaging travel diaries to his credit, as well as nearly as many in other non-fiction genres. First published in 1998, A Walk in the Woods was about Bryson's attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend (who is also mentioned in one of his earlier books, Neither Here Nor There), Stephen Katz.
"He's wonderful," said Levinson of Bryson and his writing. But no matter how much of a fan Levinson might be of Bryson's work, that doesn't mean the project is a foregone conclusion. "It's still premature," said Levinson, who has worked on writing the adaptation and is attached to direct. "If we do it, it will be really nice."
Since the story takes place almost entirely outside, one of the issues with getting A Walk in the Woods off the ground is timing. "We can only shoot at a certain time, because if you don't start at a certain time, you can't do it," he explained. "So it becomes a seasonal issue."
The bigger question is that Robert Redford is attached to play Bryson. And while a story about the challenges a man faces while hiking the Appalachian Trail and dealing with an ornery old friend seems extremely well-suited for Redford, let's just say that's where the similarities between the two -- who have a 15 year age gap between them -- end. "Bryson's older in this movie!" Levinson joked when I asked him about the casting choice. "It's a guy who's a writer, he's married, kids, grandchildren, etc.," he explained. "Most of the country doesn't know Bryson, they know something of his writing. So you had to adapt that aspect of it."
Let's just all cross our fingers and hope the timing works out, because this is one adaptation that we would love to see!
Levinson's next movie, What Just Happened?, will be coming out later this year.