Reese Witherspoon has said that her latest role in the film Wild was the “hardest” she has ever played – and the sex scenes were the most difficult of all.
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The Oscar-winning actress, who also produced the film, portrays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who took on a solitary three-month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail to help her to cope with the death of her mother, the breakdown of her marriage and her heroin use.
"It's definitely the hardest movie I've ever done in my entire life for many different reasons," Witherspoon said at a press conference in London on Monday.
"The physicality was really difficult, but after that was the emotional part of it.
"The grief, the divorce; the sex scenes were the hardest thing for me to do, honestly so hard. I've never had to do anything like that in my entire life."
She added: "I had to do all the parts of the movie, the parts that made me feel uncomfortable too, because it is about emotional honesty."
The 38-year-old has been tipped for another Academy Award for her performance, which sees her character battle through desert heat, record snowstorms and driving rain to make the trek from Mexico to Canada under the weight of a giant backpack. Director Jean-Marc Vallee made sure Witherspoon upped the realism by telling her the hefty rucksack needed to be packed with heavy weights.
Strayed, whose memoir the film is based on, was herself present at the event, which was part of BFI London Film Festival in Leicester Square, where the film has its European premiere.
She said: “One of the things I admire about Reese so deeply is that it has to begin with the self. You have to be brave enough to tell your truth, in order to tell a story that matters to anyone else. That is the way to the universal narrative.” Strayed explained that the pair had spent many hours engaged in conversation and “opening ourselves up to each other”.
Films to watch this season
Films to watch this season
1/5 Mr Turner, 31 October
Timothy Spall plays the British artist in Mike Leigh's new film Mr Turner. A look at the last quarter-century of his life, the biopic highlights the disparities between Turner's brilliance as an artist and flaws as a man
2/5 Unbroken, 26 December
Written by the Coen Brothers and directed by Angelina Jolie, this Second World War drama chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell), who was captured by Japanese forces
3/5 Interstellar, 7 November
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar features Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. A group of explorers travel through a wormhole - or space "shortcut" - on a voyage aimed at saving humanity
4/5 The Imitation Game, 14 November
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game. Cumberbatch has been tipped to win an Oscar for his performance as the mathematical genius, who lives with the pressure of hiding his sexuality at a time when homosexuality was criminalised
5/5 Annie, 26 December
Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis is the new little orphan Annie in this reboot of the much-loved musical. A perfect family film
Witherspoon said: “I was a little scared of Cheryl being there because I thought she's going to be watching and judging me, but she was actually just this incredibly loving, supportive presence.”
And she added that the film was unusual in many ways: “It's a revolutionary thing to see a woman on film who ends up with no man, no money, no family, no parents, no job, no opportunities and it's a happy ending.”
Wild is scheduled for release on 16 January.Reuse content