Robert Redford might have been able to bring the Sundance Film Festival to life, and snag a job overseeing the tricky organisation that is S.H.I.E.L.D., but his cinematic white whale appears to be Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. Now Redford might have the right man for the director’s chair, with Richard Linklater set to come aboard.
Adapting Bryson’s beloved travelogue about two childhood friends – the writer and his pal Stephen Katz, who try to walk the Appalachian trail while trading observations about life in general and their own in particular – has been a passion project for Redford since at least 2005.
He originally planned it as a reunion with Butch Cassidy/The Sting co-star Paul Newman, an effort curtailed by Newman’s death in 2008. Nick Nolte is taking over the part, but development has proceeded at a glacial pace with writers and directors coming and going through the years. Chris Columbus was attached at one point, and Barry Levinson thought he’d give it a go. It was even knocked about by Little Miss Sunshine/Ruby Sparks directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who told Empire’s podcast crew about their experience (hear that below).
If Linklater can finally get it on screen, we should be able to enjoy Redford and Nolte taking a somewhat shortened route and finding the funny. “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 tells the LA Times. "It will be nice to get back to doing a comedy.”
Redford’s latest, the largely low-on-laughs thriller The Company You Keep, is due out on June 7. Linklater's Bernie lands here on April 26.