November 14, 2014 07:30 AM

She carried a hulking backpack for months and had to bare all onscreen. So what did Reese Witherspoon find to be her biggest challenge while filming the movie Wild?

Having a naked face. “I’m Southern,” she says. “I like some makeup! It wasn’t easy.”

The movie, which is generating Oscar buzz for both Witherspoon and her costar Laura Dern, is adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir. It follows her trek to self-discovery as she hikes more than 1000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert to Washington state.

Having survived the journey on her own once, Strayed jokes, “Next summer, the three of us are hiking the entire Pacific Coast Trail.”

Dern adds, “With our families.”

Witherspoon says, “We haven’t told our families yet.”

For more on Wild (which hits theaters Dec. 5) and the biggest movies of the holiday season, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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