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'Wild' adaptation seeking extras for Ashland filming

Local hippies, punk rockers and grunge fans stuck in the '90s could get a shot at the silver screen during the filming of "Wild" later this month in Ashland.

The movie, starring Reese Witherspoon and based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," needs about 200 actors with tattoos, piercings, dreadlocks and other counterculture markings, says Extras Only, a Northwest casting company.

Also needed are Jeeps, cars, trucks and other vehicles older than 1995, according to its website, extrasonly.com.

Extras are paid minimum wage and are guaranteed at least eight hours of pay plus overtime, the company says.

Crews will film scenes in the Plaza, at the post office and at the Breadboard Restaurant on Oct. 22. A smaller advance crew will arrive on Oct. 17 to do preparatory work, according to city staff.

During the filming on the Plaza, Main Street will be closed to traffic from Granite Street to Pioneer Street and vehicles will be rerouted to Lithia Way.

Pedestrians will be allowed downtown, although they may be held back by security personnel for five-minute periods while filming is taking place, said city Executive Secretary Diana Shiplet. Winburn Way, which winds through Lithia Park, will be closed to vehicles.

In the movie, Witherspoon plays a young woman who sets off on an epic journey on the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother dies of cancer.

She stops in Ashland, a popular pit stop for PCT hikers and the subject of a chapter in the bestselling book.

The movie is set in the 1990s, and Witherspoon's character comes into Ashland on a day when people are mourning the death of Grateful Dead band member Jerry Garcia. Businesses facing the Plaza will get cosmetic changes to give them a 1990s feel, Shiplet said. The scene takes place in summer, so greenery will be added to the Plaza to give it a summery look, Shiplet said.

During the filming, Witherspoon will go into the downtown business Papaya, visit the post office on Lithia Way to pick up a package that her character mailed to herself to support her hike, and visit The Breadboard Restaurant, Seltzer said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation likely will have a reader board on Interstate 5 warning drivers of traffic delays in Ashland and advising people to use Exit 14 on Ashland's south side, Seltzer said.

While many films have been shot in Ashland, Seltzer said this is the largest and best-known so far.

"There will be an economic impact on Ashland and surrounding areas that will be significant," she said, noting that 100 crew members will need places to eat and sleep. "We're excited to have them."

Onlookers can observe the filming, although Seltzer said the process normally involves long periods of waiting while scenes and cameras are set up, then short bursts of action.

"Of course people are curious and will want to come out," she said. "The production company is very familiar with that."

The film crew for "Wild" will be working in other Oregon locations, including Bend and Portland, Seltzer said.

With each new film that comes to Ashland, Seltzer said the city learns from the experience and works out new methods to accommodate filmmakers while minimizing any potential negative impacts to residents and businesses.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.