Scott Dunlap's blog of trail running, ultrarunning, triathlon, and other life adventures. I enjoy the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of outdoor events and the chance to meet cool people. This blog contains interviews, research, original fiction, new product ideas, and all things trail running.
Looks like Bill Bryson's outdoor comics are coming to the big screen.
Newman and Redford plan a new buddy film
By John Harlow and John Elliott
Stars of Butch and Sundance to take a stroll with Bill Bryson
ONE OF the most popular acting partnerships in Hollywood history, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, is planning to reunite for one last movie.
More than 30 years after they last worked together, Redford is negotiating for the rights to Bill Bryson’s travel book A Walk in the Woods.
Redford, 67, would take the role of the author, who in the book attempts to shake off a midlife crisis by hiking across the American wilderness. Newman, 80, would play his doughnut-addicted companion, Bryson’s friend Stephen Katz.
Newman recently said that they have been looking for an “unexpected” film to follow up the barnstorming success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969 and The Sting in 1973.
“I hate to talk about anything until the papers are drawn up but we’ve been looking for something like 20 years and now we are looking harder,” said Newman. “I want to make one final film for good luck and I would like it to be with Bob.”
The matinee idol turned racing driver turned organic food magnate has already been limbering up for the role. Earlier this year, after attending the wedding of his daughter Nell in south Wales, he reportedly took off for a hike at the Mumbles, the local beauty spot, with his wife Joanne Woodward, the actress.
Redford, a noted environmentalist, has been a fan of Bryson’s comic book since it was published in 1998. The story chronicles the duo’s misadventures during a hike along the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail.
Redford said he hopes that A Walk in the Woods could be their swansong. “That might be something for Paul Newman and me, if we’re not too old. That’s if Paul can hang on long enough and we can get him on the Appalachian Trail before he gets into a wheelchair,” he recently joked about his famously fit friend.
Newman and Redford still have pulling power. When Newman discussed his plans at the recent Tribeca film festival in New York, Julia Roberts, the actress, said she would love to take the cameo role of Bryson’s British wife Cynthia.
She would even settle for a smaller role. “I want to be in it and I mean to be in it,” said the 37-year-old superstar.
The Appalachian Trail, running from Georgia in the Deep South to Maine near the Canadian border, is a rite of passage for Americans who regard themselves as outdoors types.
Bryson, after living in North Yorkshire for nearly two decades researching his bestselling books such as Notes From a Small Island, decided to “reacquaint” himself with his American heritage by walking the trail in bursts. He relished snubbing much of the professional walking gear, opting instead for plastic sheeting purchased in hardware shops.
He avoided some of the tough and tedious terrain by taking cab journeys and broke from the trail to return to his family in New England for “tender loving care” when it all got too grim.
Even then, after several months of harsh walking, the ill-prepared writer was unable to finish more than half the trail. “It defeated me, as it does most, although I still feel I have completed the trail in spirit,” he said later. “And it’s still there if I want to fill in the gaps.”
Katz, Bryson’s old school friend from his native Iowa, added some light relief for part of the trek: Bryson wrote that, due to unspecified past drug habits, Katz has to keep on eating doughnuts or else risk “brain seizure”.