Director Jean-Marc Vallée started filming in Oregon a month ago, making stops at Crater Lake, Ashland and Bend, said publicist Toni Atterbury. Witherspoon has been posting photographs of her journeys in the Pacific Northwest on her website.
The movie crew secured special-event permits with the city of Vancouver that cordoned off about a five-block area around the restaurant that affected parking and traffic, said Stacy Donovan of the city manager’s office. Flaggers didn’t allow any vehicles to roll by Paul’s Restaurant during filming because Strayed’s travels take place in 1995. The small-town feel to Paul’s Restaurant and the bus stop next to its parking lot best matched the scene from the book, Donovan said.
“Right now we just see it as great PR for having a film of this magnitude being shot here,” she said, adding that she hopes crew members patronize local businesses. With more exposure, she said, the city has a better chance of attracting other large film companies (and gaining bragging rights).
A small crowd of onlookers and stragglers from the bar lingered on the sidewalk across the street to watch the actress do multiple takes of the scene. Tara Hambleton works down the street at Beauty by TaraLee and noticed the film crew setting up near her business.
“I love her … she’s been around for quite awhile,” Hambleton said of Witherspoon, adding that she was excited to see local filming of a big-box production.
Hambleton called one of her clients, Katie Koppes, a big fan of the actress. She was in bed wearing her pajamas at the time, but quickly put together a pink ensemble — a tribute to Witherspoon’s earlier film “Legally Blonde.”
“We want her to come and say hi to us,” Koppes said as she watched and shivered from the street corner.
The cast and crew are scheduled to return to Paul’s Restaurant on Nov. 15 to complete filming. A potential release date for “Wild” hasn’t been determined.