ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- In making "Into the Wild," Emile Hirsch forded rivers in Alaska, coped with blazing desert
heat and rode raging rapids in the American Southwest.
Emile Hirsch has starred in "The Girl Next Door," "Lords of Dogtown" and now "Into the Wild."
But ask him about a dangerous location he dealt with during the production of the Sean Penn film and he answers, "South
It seems that Hirsch had a couple close calls while shooting scenes on a farm in the other Sunshine State. At one point,
while in a grain elevator set to handle 300-pound loads, Hirsch took out the pin holding the elevator in place. The platform
rose with such speed that it "launched me in the air and shot wood chips all over me" when it hit the top, he recalled.
"Into the Wild," based on Jon Krakauer's bestselling book, is the story of Chris McCandless, whose good-natured restlessness
drove him in search of soul-searching adventure.
As he traveled through the West and Upper Plains on his way to Alaska, McCandless met farm workers, itinerant old hippies,
a philosophical old man and a variety of other people, establishing short-lived relationships as he made his way along the
"That was part of the commitment of the role," he said.
But the impact of the film went beyond that, the actor said in an interview at CNN Center.
"It's presumptuous to say I am changed," he said, but added that the shock of going from "civilization to the middle of
nowhere" had its effect. "A lot of Hollywood seems pretty ridiculous [now]," he said. "L.A. seems pretty goofy."
Of course, that's nothing like the shock of going from the wilds of Alaska to the green-screened studios of Berlin, Germany,
where he just finished principal photography of next summer's big-budget production of "Speed Racer."
"There was a point where I was sitting in this green cockpit ... strapped in, getting rotated and spun around," he recalls,
"and I was thinking about this: I went from being in the mountains with a big grizzly bear to being strapped in ... I'm not
making it very easy on myself, am I," he recalled.
He describes "Speed Racer," a Wachowski brothers ("The Matrix") film based on the 1960s cartoon as "a really crazy, Andy
Warhol-meets-'Blade Runner' kind of big colors, pop-art, really crazy special effects, very goofy movie."
With "Into the Wild" now safely
in Hirsch's past, what he thinks about -- besides the outdoor travails -- was his work with several notable performers, including
Catherine Keener, Hal Holbrook, William Hurt and Vince Vaughn.
"It was so much fun to go to all of these locations and work with different actors," he says. They didn't work with each
other, he observes, but "I had the experience of being with all of them. I kind of connected them."