Like Liz, the film's stars and crew ended their exotic journey in Bali, which Julia describes as heaven on earth. "I love, loved, loved it," she says. "It was like the world opened up, like someone took the lid off and there we were."
While in Bali, the film's producers and director embarked on a daunting talent search. They had to find someone to play the role of Ketut, a wise Balinese medicine man who befriends Liz and becomes a mentor of sorts.
Ryan, the Eat, Pray, Love director, screenwriter and creator of the hit TV show Glee, says casting this role took longer than they imagined. "We looked and looked and looked from the beginning," he says. "We got to Bali, and we hadn't found him."
They searched the entire island and finally found the man for the job, a man named Hadi who'd never acted before. "It was just a feeling I wanted. It was a spirituality. It was a warmth," Ryan says. "It was somebody who was really authentic, and I wanted that and I couldn't find it. [Then], he walked through the door."
To make these pivotal scenes as authentic as possible, Ryan says they shot in the real Ketut's house. "Ketut was there giving us his blessing, giving Hadi some pointers," he says.
Throughout the filmmaking process, Ryan says he and the crew felt an obligation to Liz and her story. "I think it's more than a book. I think it's a movement, and I think it's so personal to so many people," he says. "It was to me. I was a fan, like Julia was, before it came into our lives."