AFP

TORONTO

Reese Witherspoon, who won an Oscar in 2006, is generating critical buzz again, appearing at the Toronto film festival Monday in two based-on-true-life films.

‘You never set out to make a film that’s going to get awards,’ Witherspoon commented about the talk surrounding her performances in ‘The Good Lie,’ about an American woman who takes in Sudanese refugees, and ‘Wild,’ based on author Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir. ‘I don’t even think about it,’ she said. ‘If a movie can help one other person get through a tough time, that’s the gift.’

Her co-star in ‘Wild,’ Laura Dern, however, welcomed the critics’ praise, saying ‘movies that have this level of truth and importance for all of us should be... seen by the world - and the more support, that’s great news.’ ‘Chick flick my ass!’ said ‘Wild’ director Jean-Marc Vallee, slamming reviews that mistakenly classified the movie.

The 38-year-old Witherspoon has been one of Hollywood’s highest-paid and most bankable box office draws since her breakout starring turn in the 2001 comedy ‘Legally Blonde.’ But she failed to gain credibility as a serious actress until her 2006 Oscar win for her role as singer June Carter Cash - the wife of superstar Johnny Cash - in James Mangold’s biopic ‘Walk the Line.’

‘Wild’ is beautifully shot by Vallee, whose previous feature ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ began its journey to Oscar success in Toronto last year.  Devastated by the death of her mother in 1991, Strayed self-destructs - destroying her marriage, becoming hooked on heroin and even becoming pregnant by a stranger. In a bid to find her way out of despair, she embarks on a 1,100-mile (1,770 kilometer) hike along the US Pacific Crest Trail.

Witherspoon sought out the acclaimed author to bring ‘Wild’ to the silver screen, saying she felt a powerful connection to the protagonist. ‘It’s an important book in my life, it’s about a beautiful journey to save yourself.’