‘Big Little Lies’ Feels Crazy Truthful to Reese Witherspoon
Yes, even Reese Witherspoon has felt judged as a parent. The actress, producer, newly-named Elizabeth Arden brand ambassador and mom of Ava, 17; Deacon, 13; and Tennessee, 4, is fascinated by just how opaque and unreadable kids can be and how hard moms and dads try to seem absolutely perfect.
“Have you ever gotten a call that your kid bit someone at school? I have. You feel awful. You feel like there is something wrong. It’s interesting how we stigmatize people,” she tells Yahoo Style.
She explores the disparaging, cutting and very juicy side of motherhood (and fatherhood) in Big Little Lies, which has exploded as this season’s must-see show. The HBO miniseries delves into the inner lives of a multitude of multidimensional women, showcasing a bully (Laura Dern), a cheater (Witherspoon), a domestic abuse victim (Nicole Kidman), and a single mom raising a child of rape (Shailene Woodley).
Witherspoon was instrumental in bringing Liane Moriarty’s bestseller to the screen. She, along with Kidman, produced it and the project resulted in a bidding war. That’s because while much of Hollywood was busy lamenting the dire lack of roles for women of a certain age, or any age, Witherspoon was busy creating them.
Her production house, Pacific Standard, is now a part of the content company Hello Sunshine, a joint venture with Peter Chernin and AT&T whose sole mission is to tell female-driven stories on TV, film, and digital platforms.
“It’s my entire life. It’s so fulfilling to me. It’s all been leading to this place where I took control of my career,” Witherspoon says. “It came out of a frustration, of seeing the kind of roles for women that were so flimsy. Buying books that have complex and real interior lives of women is my life’s work. I’m a storyteller, but I’m passionate that women have stories that need to be told.”
For years, she’s been diligently optioning, producing, and releasing projects with women at their core: 2014’s Gone Girl, starring Rosamund Pike as spectacularly manipulative Amy Dunne, generated $168 million domestically. The same year, Witherspoon and her friend Laura Dern earned Oscar nominations for the soul-searching saga Wild. In the pipeline is the date-rape thriller Luckiest Girl Alive.
Big Little Lies, meanwhile, is set in glitzy Monterey, Calif., but peel back the lush exteriors of waves, beaches, and pristine landscaping, and you’ll see the ugly underbelly of the posh town and its denizens — led by Witherspoon’s insufferable but also oddly tender grudge-bearer Madeline. The role fits her like a proverbial glove, but when Witherspoon read Moriarty’s book and realized it would make for delicious television, she didn’t know what part she’d play, just that she wanted in.
“You don’t know why people like a show. I responded to the truth, a real truthful look at how women feel about parenthood. Sometimes there’s maternal ambivalence. Women are not good or bad. I like that complexity of character,” she says. “I don’t think you ever know if things are going to work or not work. But there’s something interesting about five dynamic roles for women in which they talk about sex and marriage and relationships the way that women really talk about sex and marriage and relationships.”
Elizabeth Arden Signs Reese Witherspoon As Storyteller-in-Chief
Elizabeth Arden announced today that it has signed entrepreneur and critically acclaimed, Academy Award winning actress Reese Witherspoon as the brand’s Storyteller-in-Chief. In this multi-faceted role, Reese will help to shape the brand’s narrative, through its advertising campaigns and marketing programs, with a strong focus on Elizabeth Arden’s digital strategy and engagement.
In researching visionary women throughout history, Reese learned of the life and achievements of Elizabeth Arden’s eponymous founder, who revolutionized the beauty industry at the turn of the 20th century as a self-made entrepreneur. Founding her company in New York in 1910, before women could even vote, Elizabeth Arden has a legacy of breaking boundaries. Reese, an entrepreneur in her own right as founder of Hello Sunshine, her content production company, and the Southern lifestyle and fashion brand, Draper James, was inspired to forge a partnership with such a likeminded company.
“We are thrilled to be working with Reese. In addition to her accomplishments as an actress, she is a successful entrepreneur—heading her own production, fashion and digital companies,” said JuE Wong, President, Elizabeth Arden Brand. “Reese exemplifies the ideals of our founder and continues to break boundaries every day. Like Elizabeth Arden before her, Reese does not accept the standard, she sets it, making her the perfect person to represent the brand and engage with our consumers globally.”
“One of the first things that drew me to the brand was its rich heritage and history of supporting women,” shared Reese Witherspoon. “As one of the first female entrepreneurs, Elizabeth Arden paved the way for women like me. It’s an honor to carry on her legacy and be part of such an iconic company that is committed to serving women.” Reese added, “I’m excited to work as a creative partner alongside the Elizabeth Arden team, producing content that celebrates the spirit of the brand, highlighting female-centric stories that illustrate women’s true life experiences which unite us all.”
The actresses, who star in HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” developed a tight friendship after playing “sort-of awful people” and then mother and daughter.
A mutual friend introduced Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern in front of a restaurant in the Brentwood Country Mart complex in Santa Monica, Calif. They were already aware of each other; it was 2011, and both were movie stars of many years. They had also each played antiheroines in back-to-back late-1990s Alexander Payne films to unforgettable effect: Ms. Dern as Ruth Stoops in “Citizen Ruth” and Ms. Witherspoon as Tracy Flick in “Election.” But it was merely a quick hello.
They reunited in 2014 to play mother and daughter in “Wild,” a film based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir that garnered them both Oscar nominations. A friendship blossomed quickly — playing family, as luck would have it, made them so. They now star (and spar) as rival Monterey power mothers in the new HBO mini-series “Big Little Lies,” of which Ms. Witherspoon is also an executive producer.
Speaking by telephone and email, Ms. Witherspoon and Ms. Dern talked about their fast-tracked friendship, multiple collaborations and conversations with their mothers (Ms. Dern’s is the actress Diane Ladd). This conversation has been edited and condensed.
REESE WITHERSPOON I was with Howell outside a restaurant. Howell Caldwell’s our friend who’s a first assistant director, who’d worked with Laura, and he’s this big, funny guy from Texas, and he’s like: “You gotta meet Laura Dern. You’re gonna love her, you’re gonna love her mom.” Her mom is, like, the quintessential Southern mom, and I have a real Southern mother, too. He said, “You guys are gonna be best friends.” And I remember thinking: “Could I be best friends with her? I don’t know.”
February 17, 2017 • Category: Pacific Standard, Role Rumors •
Comments Off on ‘Legion’s Noah Hawley Pacts Two Fox Searchlight Pics; Helming Reese Witherspoon In ‘Pale Blue Dot’
‘Legion’s Noah Hawley Pacts Two Fox Searchlight Pics; Helming Reese Witherspoon In ‘Pale Blue Dot’
Noah Hawley, who followed his Emmy-winning minseries Fargo by creating the FX drama Legion, has set a pair of films at Fox Searchlight. Top of the list is Pale Blue Dot, a sci-fi project that has Reese Witherspoon starring. Set up as a spec by Brian C Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi, Pale Blue Dot tells the story of a female astronaut who, upon returning to Earth from a mission in space, begins to slowly unravel and lose touch with reality. Witherspoon will produce with Bruna Papandrea.
Through his production company 26 Keys, Hawley is also developing with Searchlight Buried Bodies, the working title of a drama inspired by the Lake Pleasant Bodies Case from the mid-1970s. Attorneys Frank Armani and Francis Belge faced the ethical dilemma of upholding attorney-client privilege after their client, accused murderer Robert Garrow, revealed to them the location of the bodies of two additional missing girls. The lawyers verified the findings, but did not report them to police, even though one of the lawyers had a daughter who was a classmate of sisters of one of the murdered girls. The lawyers only divulged information after the killer escaped prison and threatened one of the attorneys. The pair was reviled by the families of the victims and ostracized by the community for their agonizing commitment to their oath. Hawley is repped by CAA.
February 15, 2017 • Category: Career, News & Gossip •
Comments Off on Vanity Fair’s New Founders Fair to Feature Reese Witherspoon, Tory Burch, Sasheer Zamata, and Founders of TheSkimm
Vanity Fair’s New Founders Fair to Feature Reese Witherspoon, Tory Burch, Sasheer Zamata, and Founders of TheSkimm
Women entrepreneurs from technology, fashion, media, and other industries will talk about why they started their companies, how they built their businesses, and the lessons they’ve learned as part of Vanity Fair’s first Founders Fair conference.
Confirmed speakers include actor and producer Reese Witherspoon, who also is the founder of lifestyle brand Draper James and media company Hello Sunshine; Kirsten Green, founder, Forerunner Ventures; Julie Wainwright, founder of C.E.O. of the RealReal; Julie Deane, founder and C.E.O. of Cambridge Satchel Co.; and Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, co-founders and co-C.E.O.s of theSkimm. The conference will conclude with Tory Burch, C.E.O. and creative director, Tory Burch LLC, in conversation with Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter.
The conference takes place on April 20 at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, New York, and is presented by Condé Nast.
Former Google executives-turned-entrepreneurs Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan (C.E.O. and founder of Drawbridge) and Stephanie Tilenius (C.E.O. and founder of Vida Health) will talk about how the search giant prepared them—and didn’t—to launch their businesses. Cindy Whitehead, who sold Sprout Pharmaceuticals to Valeant for $1 billion, will share the pros and cons of selling a business. And Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata and Jennifer Danielson, president of Lorne Michaels’ Above Average Productions, will discuss how digital platforms have enabled a new generation of female artists to become media entrepreneurs.
The conference will also feature serial entrepreneurs such as Nancy Lublin, founder of Crisis Text Line and Dress for Success; Caterina Fake, who co-founded Flickr and Hunch, and founded Findery and StorySet; and Gina Bianchini, who co-founded Ning with Marc Andreessen before launching Mightybell. Additional speakers will be announced soon.
Founders Fair grew from the stories of entrepreneurs who’ve spoken at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, now entering its fourth year.
Dell is a presenting sponsor of Founders Fair. Lifetime, Barneys, and 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge are supporting sponsors.
Participation in the conference is by invitation only. More information on the event, including a complete list of confirmed speakers, may be found on the Founders Fair site.
The New York Times interviewed Nicole Kidman to promote Big Little Lies, and it features several mentions of Reese and the development and production of the show; here are the Reese-related snippets:
How Nicole Kidman Puts Women First in Hollywood
It makes sense that “Big Little Lies” became a series on HBO rather than a feature film at a major studio. As superhero and other tentpole movies dominate the release schedules of the major studios, even bona fide movie stars like Natalie Portman, Daniel Craig and Bradley Cooper are bringing their projects to places like HBO, Showtime, Amazon and Netflix.
“There’s not as much of a separation anymore,” Ms. Witherspoon said in a telephone interview. “There’s a bigger pool to work in, the talent base is much broader than it used to be, and it’s become sort of a blur — what is television, what is a movie?”
Just two and a half years elapsed between conception to finished project. In the spring of 2014, Bruna Pappandrea, Ms. Witherspoon’s former partner in her production company (Pacific Standard), who is also friends with Ms. Kidman, read a galley of “Big Little Lies,” thought it was great and called Ms. Witherspoon, who was in New Orleans shooting “Hot Pursuit.” Entranced by the book, Ms. Witherspoon got Ms. Kidman, an old friend, to read it, too.
Ms. Kidman said she was drawn in by the many moods of the book, by its strong female characters, and that “as much as it’s about women who are feuding, who are trying to destroy one another, it’s also about friendships.” (The character she plays, Celeste, seems to have a perfect life, including a hunky younger husband played by Alexander Skarsgard, but it’s a facade that begins to peel away as the series goes on.)
She called Ms. Witherspoon back. “I said, ‘I’m in if you’re in,’” Ms. Kidman recalled. “And she said, ‘I’m in. Now all we have to do is get it.’” That meant persuading the author, Ms. Moriarty, at home in Australia, to sell them the exclusive rights.
Ms. Kidman was on her way there for a vacation, and she and Ms. Moriarty met in a coffee shop in Sydney. Ms. Moriarty said she had not expected much from the meeting. “I’ve had other books optioned before, and other authors have said, ‘Never get too excited until the day they start shooting,’” she said by telephone. “And Nicole said, ‘If I option it, get excited because I don’t just option things for the sake of it.’”
Reese attended the red carpet premiere of Big Little Lies in LA yesterday! Reese bought her daughter Ava along for the event, and the twosome posed together on the red carpet … Reese was also snapped with her co-stars Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz. She looked gorgeous and elegant in a dress by Elie Saab, with jewellry from Tiffany’s and Christian Louboutin shoes – I love this shimmery look on her! The Gallery has been updated with over 300 HQ photos from the premiere and after-party, and this post will be updated tomorrow with articles & videos from the red carpet…
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