The Real Story Behind Reese Witherspoon’s Return to Romantic Comedies
When the trailer dropped for Home Again, Reese Witherspoon’s newest movie, there was a palpable buzz around Hollywood and among her loyal cadre of fans. Timing was part of it—it’s the first project since the actress’ beloved turn in Big Little Lies. The sneak peek into the flick dropped just weeks before the Emmy nominations made official what everyone was expecting: That Lies was a critical darling in addition to taking over pop culture for much of 2017.
But Home Again also marks a ground-breaking transition for Witherspoon: It’s her return to romantic comedies after a five year hiatus.
She has become a staple in more serious awards material, what with her turns in films like Wild, and her slight retreat into behind-the-camera work (she produced Gone Girl and Big Little Lies), that her start in the industry begs reminding. When Witherspoon broke out onto the scene it was her quirkiness and affability that won over fans and critics (and studio executives). Romantic comedies were here bread and butter, their one-liners her legacy. Quotes like “You have a baby…in a bar” and “Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands” were synonymous with Reese.
One wonders what it would take to get Reese back to her old stomping ground after all this time. (And all that success). It’s easy to imagine that the A-lister is pitched movies endlessly, that she’s turned down countless roles that instead went to other actresses. Was it that she simply missed romantic comedies after all this time, and wanted to return to her roots? Not really.
Was it that she wanted to take a little mental break, to tear herself away from the crumbling marriages and murders of Monterrey? Sort of. As Witherspoon told E! News, there is something desirable about heading to the movies to feel good.
“There’s a lot of hard stuff to process out in the world right now,” said the actress. “I think it’s nice when a movie just makes you feel great, when it’s about family, love, togetherness and romance.”
But really, her motivation was more altruistic and, frankly, straightforward.
Reese graces the cover of the new October issue of US Glamour magazine, and inside she writes an article for the magazine about empowering women in Hollywood and promoting women’s rights. She touches on some of her female-driven projects including Wild and Big Little Lies, as well as A Wrinkle In Time, her children’s response to her producing work, and her goals with Hello Sunshine. It’s a really good read, and you can find the full article here. The article is accompanied by a fun and fantastic new photoshoot – find that, in HQ, in our Gallery!
Reese Witherspoon Knows Rom-Coms Need an Image Makeover
Romantic-comedy heroines can seldom have it all. They’re either professionally successful and unlucky in love, or great with the kids and unfulfilled at work or in the bedroom.
But in “Home Again,” a comedy due Sept. 8, Reese Witherspoon is a walking empowerment meme, complete with a wardrobe of pristine white blazers: she’s a newly separated 40-year-old, the mother of two precocious girls who starts a promising career as an interior decorator and shacks up with a hot 27-year-old.
“It never would have even crossed my mind that she couldn’t be all those things,” the writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer said, adding, “That wasn’t my experience growing up.”
Ms. Meyers-Shyer, 30, is the daughter of two filmmakers: Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated”) and Charles Shyer (“Baby Boom”). She spent her formative years on movie sets, before making her directing debut with “Home Again.” (Nancy Meyers served as executive producer.)
“In certain ways, Hallie knows more about the movie business than I do,” Ms. Witherspoon said.
Ms. Witherspoon, 41, has lately taken a big leap as a filmmaker herself, starting a production company to focus on projects led by women, with hits like “Wild,” “Gone Girl” and, earlier this year, the HBO mini-series “Big Little Lies,” about mothers in wealthy Monterey, Calif., that starred Ms. Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, among others. (A follow-up is being discussed with Liane Moriarty, the author of the novel on which it’s based, Ms. Witherspoon said.)
Speaking by phone from her Los Angeles home — and pausing briefly to greet Tennessee, the youngest of her three children — she spoke passionately about the changing roles for women on screen and how she wants to be a part of that change. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Reese appeared on ‘Chelsea’, Chelsea Handler’s weekly Netflix show, yesterday to promote Home Again. She also chatted about Big Little Lies, her producing work, her upcoming show with Jennifer Aniston, her love of dogs, and being a responsible adult! It’s a really fun interview! Below is a video of the full interview and I’ve added HD screencaptures to our Gallery:
Reese Witherspoon Extends Overall Deal With ABC Studios
Reese Witherspoon is extending her overall deal with ABC Studios for another year through her new company, Hello Sunshine. Under the pact, Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s head of film and television Lauren Levy Neustadter will develop comedy and drama TV projects for the studio.
Witherspoon previously had an overall deal at ABC Studios though Pacific Standard, the production company she co-founded with Bruna Papandrea. The pact yielded multiple sales and an ABC drama pilot in 2016 written by Meaghan Oppenheimer. Papandrea exited the company last year to start a new venture.
Witherspoon, who recently executive produced and starred in HBO’s buzzy limited series Big Little Lies, is repped by CAA, LBI, and Hansen Jacobson.
Westboro Baptist Church Movie in the Works From Marc Webb, Nick Hornby
Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea are attached to produce the film, entitled ‘This Above All.’
Marc Webb is set to direct the feature film This Above All, based on the life of Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church.
Nick Hornby will pen the screenplay from a New Yorker article by Adrian Chen and Phelps-Roper’s upcoming memoir.
Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of the famous founder of the Kansas-based church, which is known for picketing everything from sporting events to military funerals and protesting the LGBT community, Islam and politicians, among many other groups. She became one of the most powerful voices for WBC via social media, until her ongoing conversations with opponents over Twitter led her to question her belief system. Eventually, she and her younger sister made the decision to leave the Church — and therefore become disowned by their family.
Dawn Ostroff and Jeremy Steckler will produce for Conde Nast Entertainment, along with Webb. Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon and Bill Pohlad of River Road Entertainment, who previously worked with Hornby on the film adaption of Wild, will also produce.
River Road will finance This Above All. The deal was negotiated by CAA.
“When we read the New Yorker article about Megan’s incredible journey, we knew that it was the perfect fit for CNE’s film group,” stated Ostroff and Steckler. “Marc and Nick both have a powerful vision of how to tell Megan’s story and we are very happy to be partnered with Reese, Bruna and Bill, who understand the importance of bringing this project to the big screen.”
Webb recently helmed the Amazon feature The Only Living Boy in New York and the Chris Evans starrer Gifted, and is set to direct the pilot for CBS’ Instinct based on the James Patterson novel. He is repped by CAA, Anonymous and Lichter Grossman.
Hornby, who last worked on the Oscar contender Brooklyn, is repped by Casarotto Ramsay.
Reese is gracing the cover of the September issue of Southern Living magazine! In the interview she talks about Draper James and her influences for this brand, her family life, and briefly about Big Little Lies and some of her favourite actresses work on screen. The interview is accompanied by a beautiful, laid back photoshoot showcasing items from Draper James.
Read the article and watch behind the scenes videos within this post, and find the photoshoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you asap…
Reese Witherspoon’s Southern Charm
The Nashville native opens up to Julia Reed about family, her favorite hometown foods, and the Southern women who have inspired her every step of the way
What did you do for Mother’s Day?
We had lots of people over for lunch, including Laura Dern [Witherspoon’s close friend and costar in Wild and Big Little Lies] and her mom, [actress] Diane Ladd, who has become friends with my mom. It’s pretty cute—they really love each other and talk all the time. They’re even planning on taking a road trip together!
In my family, we say, “It doesn’t have to be true to be told.” At lunch, my mom was telling a story about when I moved out here and how she found my apartment and paid for it. I said, “Mom, you know none of that’s true, right?” I found my own apartment, and she did not do any of it! But most of the time, I don’t even bother to interrupt…I think there’s nothing better than a Southern person as they age. The stories get better and better and less and less true.
You often visit Nashville, where you’ve said you’re “so much more relaxed.” But Nashville is not nearly as relaxed—or sleepy— as it was when you were growing up there. How has it changed?
Lately, Nashville has experienced a lot more commerce, a lot of growth, and a lot of new ideas, which is awesome. And you can’t throw a rock without hitting some new culinary surprise. I like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Edley’s Bar-B-Que has great fried okra, one of my favorite foods. City House and Rolf and Daughters are really good, and Josephine is great for brunch. Five Daughters Bakery has the best doughnuts, and if we want a meat ’n’ three, we go to Swett’s Restaurant.
Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and ‘Big Little Lies’ Stars Detail Show’s ‘Tricky’ Journey
A version of this story on “Big Little Lies” first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Four lead women in “Big Little Lies,” the HBO miniseries based on Liane Moriarty‘s book, all landed Emmy nominations, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in the lead category and Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley in supporting. (Zoë Kravitz, the last of the main actresses, was left out.)
Dern, Woodley and actors/executive producers Kidman and Witherspoon described the rare experience of making the miniseries, which starts with a murder investigation and then slowly unveils victim, murderer and motive over 10 episodes. Alexander Skarsgard, who plays Kidman’s emotionally and physically abusive husband, was also nominated — but these conversation were about the women at the center of the miniseries.
REESE WITHERSPOON I found the manuscript and sent it to Nicole, and we decided to do the project together. She met with Liane Moriarty first and got the rights, and then we got David Kelly. And then Jean-Marc Vallee came on.
NICOLE KIDMAN For me, it was the complication of the women, and the strength of their stories, and the fact that it focused on the female relationships and was told primarily through the female point of view. That’s why the book was so appealing. And it seemed to warrant being told, because amidst the entertainment of it, underneath were issues that were incredibly topical and relevant and real.
WITHERSPOON We had to decide, Is it a miniseries or a movie? And we decided it would be better to do this for television. If we had done it as a two-hour movie, it might have been about two of the women, not all five.
KIDMAN I think it would be strange if Reese and I produced something that was all men. Don’t we have enough of those? So it was very important for us to throw our weight behind finding these great female roles, and calling our friends and people we admire. That was the glorious part of it.
To celebrate our 16 years online, here we are spotlighting 16 of our favourite Reese things from the past 16 years. You will see a new one upon refreshing or changing the page.
"It took me years to be the woman my mother raised. It took me 4 years, 7 months and 3 days to do it, without her. After I lost myself in the wilderness of my grief, I found my own way out of the woods."
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
In A Dark, Dark Wood
Untitled Rob Long Project
The Thing About Jellyfish
All Is Not Forgotten
Three Little Words
Pale Blue Dot
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