Nomadland: Real-life nomad says he hopes film inspires people to change their lives

Ellie Harrison
·2-min read
Chloe Zhao and Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland (AP)
Chloe Zhao and Frances McDormand on the set of Nomadland (AP)

Bob Wells, one of the real-life nomads from Oscar favourite Nomadland, has said he hopes the movie inspires more people to adopt a life on the road.

The movie stars Frances McDormand as a woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the recession, decides to live in her van and go on a journey across the American West.

It was adapted from Jessica Bruder’s bestselling book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, about the rootless community in the US.

Many of the nomads who feature in the book also appear in the film as versions of themselves.

Among them is Wells, 65, founder of the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, the largest gathering of nomads and van dwellers in the US, and a long-time proponent of transient living.

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He told the PA news agency: “There are a few principles that nomads live by. First, things are a burden. If we all started to think things were a burden, our lives will be far better, our world would be far better. If we all started to think about generosity first, that I need other people and they need me...

“We lived nomadically for millions of years and these were the principles. I need you tomorrow to help me with the hunt, so I have to take care of you today.”

He added: “If we just adopted some of these... travel is good, seeing the world, making bigger thoughts other than my own little tiny circle. If we would just adopt those simple ideas, everyone’s life would be better, the world would be better.”

The film won Best Film at the Baftas earlier this month, and McDormand took home the award for Best Actress.

Director Chloe Zhao, who was born in China, became only the second woman to win the Best Director prize, and the first woman of colour.

Nomadland is nominated for six awards at the Oscars.

Wells said he hopes the film will inspire people to adopt a different way of living, adding: “It’s not an all-or-nothing life. It’s not like you have to leave everything and move into a van and just run away.”

He continued: “You can stay in your house and there are lot of minivans in Europe and in the UK - just start taking trips and you can have most of the advantages of living the nomadic life, but with hardly any other disadvantages. So wherever people are, they can start right now and their life would be a lot better.”

Nomadland will be released on Star on Disney+ in the UK and Ireland on 30 April and will be in cinemas in the UK and Ireland from 17 May.

Additional reporting by PA

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