Eddie Vedder’s Out Of Body Experience With Sean Penn

When a creative person in the entertainment industry has been working at his craft for many years, it becomes easier to pinpoint who they want to collaborate with or who would be the best fit for any position. So the making of Sean Penn’s directorial effort, an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into the Wild,’ was undoubtedly the right project for Eddie Vedder and Penn to come together.

The two actually go way back to ‘Dead Man Walking’ along with a few brief other interactions. However, Vedder’s voice and songwriting skills have always been on Penn’s radar as he loved what the musician brought to the music scene. Penn even had pitched the singer a role in one of his movies that never came to fruition. So, their friendship and admiration for one another had been broiling for a while before they finally got the chance to work together.

When the script was shaping off, it was in the middle of shooting the movie that Penn knew the voice in the background had to come from Eddie Vedder. When he reached out to the singer, the stars had finally aligned, and they started to work together on this project. Through the process, the two have become close friends.

Vedder shared with IGN in 2007 that their collaboration grew organically. So, it wasn’t like a situation where Sean Penn had ordered around Vedder expecting certain things. Instead of that, he let the musician get free in his creative process to come up with lyrics that fit the storyline. The biggest component was their trust in one another, and the images were so inspiring for Vedder that it felt like an out-of-body experience for him.

Eddie Vedder’s words about working with Sean Penn:

“It was kind of all different ways, and one nice thing it just kind of, I don’t know how, but it just kind of grew organically, and it wasn’t, I think – I may have been intimidated if Sean were to have said, ‘We need this, and we need a theme, and it would be nice if it were structured this way or that way, and then it revisits this at the end.’

None of that happened, or not consciously, and he started finding places to put the songs. With the music, he allowed me to write my lines. [I also performed] a couple of cover songs, so that was nice too – he gave me a few lines that I could interpret. He gave me a lot of freedom, and the biggest thing was trust, which was unspoken.”

The singer added:

“The story is so inspiring, just so inspiring, and the images were inspiring, and it was so easy to focus that it became kind of an out-of-body experience. It went real quick, and instruments were being handed to me, and we were doing all the takes real quick, and then we’d send it to Sean, and he’d find places for it and ask for a couple more, and it just grew that way. I don’t know if I’d want to do this again because I know it wouldn’t be as good as this experience was, so I could leave it at this. This was great.”

For Eddie Vedder working with Sean Penn on ‘Into the Wild’ was almost like a magical experience. Thus, the musician didn’t see how anyone or any other project could top this adventure with his close friend. Both gained so much experience from this endeavor, where they worked together to bring each other’s strengths to the table. In the end, Vedder performed several songs in the film and contributed to its success in a significant way, and Penn was more than happy with how his movie became what it is today.