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Reese Witherspoon Sheds Hollywood Glamour for Stripped-Down Role in Wild: Watch an Exclusive Clip

Reese Witherspoon can rock a red carpet like no one else, but as she shows in Wild, she’s more than just a pretty face. The Devil’s Knot actress, 38, got down and dirty — both literally and figuratively — for her new movie, an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed‘s best-selling memoir of the same name. Us Weekly has an exclusive clip from the film, which is due to hit theaters on Dec. 5.

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In the clip, a makeup-free Witherspoon sits talking with a fellow hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, quietly contemplating the beauty of her surroundings and the life she left behind. It’s an intimate, tranquil moment on a difficult, often perilous journey.

Witherspoon dug deep to play Strayed, who embarked on the 1,100-mile trek after her mother (played in the movie by Laura Dern) died of cancer. At times during filming — particularly while shooting the scenes involving sex and drugs — the Legally Blonde actress was pushed nearly to her limits.

Reese in Wild

“It was really hard to do it,” she admitted during a Q&A on Nov. 11. “I didn’t want to do any of it. I really didn’t want to do the sex scenes. I really didn’t want to do the heroin scenes.”

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She did them, she said, because she wanted to be faithful to Strayed’s story. “I just knew that Cheryl had told the whole truth and I had to be brave enough as an artist to tell the whole truth, too,” she explained.

Her efforts paid off. Wild — which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in August — is already generating Oscar buzz for its leading lady, who won an Academy Award once before for Walk the Line.

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Us Weekly‘s own film critic, Mara Reinstein, described the movie as “an absorbing and beautifully shot adventure-drama,” and said Witherspoon is “poised for a mini-comeback (and possible Oscar consideration) with her strong, vanity-free turn” as Strayed.

“Completely devoid of her Hollywood glamour, she cries and swears and scarfs down food with her fingers and licks dew off a tent just to get water,” Reinstein wrote. “It’s a stripped-down performance on every level.”

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