Reese Witherspoon: ‘It’s bizarre that men I once starred with have such young screen lovers’
Reese Witherspoon has hit out at relationships between older men and younger women on film, saying they do not reflect real life.
The actress, 41, said she found it “bizarre” that the actors she starred with at the beginning of her career were now appearing alongside love interests a decade or more their junior.
She attributed the issue, which has also been raised by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cate Blanchett, to the fact that most stories were told through a male director’s “lens”.
The American actress bucks the trend in her new film, Home Again. Witherspoon plays a woman who strikes up a romance with a much younger man, played by 26-year-old Pico Alexander, after splitting from her husband.
She told the Standard: “It’s interesting, the movies that I used to make with certain leading men, they get older, but their co-stars get younger, but my co-stars don’t. It’s weird.
“It’s not reflective of reality, it’s a construct in a certain way and it’s seen through the lens of a lot of male directors. So I think if we change the people making the movies we’ll see different relationships on film.
“I think there’s a really unique relationship between an older woman and a younger man in the film and I thought that I’d never really seen that on film, apart from maybe The Graduate, which is a completely different dynamic.”
The actress was five years younger than Mark Wahlberg when they starred opposite each other in 1996 thriller Fear. Laura Haddock, his female co-star in Transformers: The Last Knight, is 32 — more than a decade younger than Wahlberg, who is 46.
The same goes for Witherspoon’s Cruel Intentions co-star and ex-husband Ryan Phillippe, 43, who currently appears opposite 32-year-old Shantel VanSanten in Shooter.
Gyllenhaal sparked the debate in 2015 when she revealed she had been turned down for a role opposite a 55-year-old man because casting directors considered her to be too old at 37.
Witherspoon credited first time director Hallie Meyers-Shyer — daughter of “rom-com queen” Nancy Meyers, who produced Home Again — with bringing a woman’s perspective to the role.
“I thought it took a woman to think of a woman in her forties as being really appealing to a younger guy,” she said.
“I thought, well if we don’t see things from a woman’s perspective on film things don’t change in society.
“We see a lot of older men and younger women in film but it’s never the opposite and I thought it was really refreshing.”