Three-time Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte (“48 Hours,” “Cape Fear”) teams up with Oscar-winner Robert Redford in the aging buddy adventure drama “A Walk in the Woods.”
Based on the Bill Bryson bestseller, the filmed adaptation directed by Ken Kwapis (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) tells the story of two acquaintances with different life experiences who wind up hiking the Appalachian Trail. As they set off on their 2,200-mile journey, the two men—Redford plays successful author Bryson and Nolte plays down-on-his-luck Stephen Katz—who had a falling out years earlier reconnect with each other and with nature. Along the way, they run into several interesting characters, and learn a lot about each other and themselves.
At 74, Nolte looks a bit healthier in person than the easily winded character he plays onscreen. He recently spoke about working again with Redford (they co-starred in 2012’s “The Company You Keep,” which Redford directed), ageism in Hollywood and shooting on location in rural Georgia.
Q: Can you talk about working together for a second time?
Nolte: We have the same lawyers and it was whispered to me that Robert might give me a call. And he did. We set up a meeting and we talked and immediately got along and he mentioned “A Walk in the Woods.” I had read the book and it was great. It was still a long process.
He still had some directorial stuff and some re-writes that he thought was right and all that. Then he called back and said he was doing another film, so we did that. It was this character from the ‘60s, which is the decade that really informed me.
Q: What do you think of him as a director?
Nolte: Bob gave me a great direction in that. When the FBI has got you, why don’t you flash the peace sign and that’s just what someone from the ‘60s would do: pranks. They know what they’re doing. In (the terrorist group) Weatherman, they went a little farther and they killed people who were pacifists. I just want to get through life without ever being in that situation. I wasn’t a warrior ever. So that informed more. I guess it was a few more years before we started this. You know how rare that is to do something that you talked about five years later? That’s about as rare as you can get in Hollywood. There’s so many ways it could fall apart.
Q: Aside from “A Walk in the Woods,” do you feel there are more opportunities for older actors on television than on film?
Nolte: I can. We’re about to start an Epix series called “Graves” that starts soon. It’s a comedy about the next president of the United States. I play an ex-president and Susan Sarandon plays my wife, who’s running for president it’s nice to work with her again after (the 1992 drama) “Lorenzo’s Oil.” It’s very satirical. It’s all financed and ready to go. We’re going to shoot it in Santa Fe (New Mexico). The first year, we’re going to stay in the resort. It’s my old producing partner.
Q: Why do you think our culture has gotten so ageist?
Nolte: I think it’s fear. We don’t cultivate the knowledge of age and we want to turn away from it and we don’t know how to manage. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean experiences are not unique anymore.
Q: Going back to “A Walk in the Woods,” some of shooting did look kind of exhausting. Was that difficult for you?
Nolte: The film relied on nature. If we get out there enough, the trees will say it, the sun will say it, the weather will say it. It will make its presence known. That made it easy for Bob and I.