Vogue.com interviewed Reese towards the end of last month, in the run-up to the finale of Big Little Lies; here is what they talked about:
Reese Witherspoon on Who She Initially Wanted to Play on Big Little Lies—and What She Thinks About Those Critics Who Dismiss the Show as Just Another Soap Opera
We only have a few days to go until the finale of HBO’s Big Little Lies airs—why, oh why are there only seven episodes?—but we can already anticipate the massive void we’ll be feeling once the show wraps up on Sunday. Thankfully, Reese Witherspoon is here to help us cope. As Madeline Martha Mackenzie, Witherspoon’s character has become a fan favorite for her type-A personality and wicked one liners (“I love my grudges; I tend to them like little pets,” she says in an early episode). We spoke on the phone with the star and executive producer of the hit TV show, and talked about who she initially thought she would play, whether or not Ed and Madeline have a good marriage, and what she thinks about those (mostly male) critics who dismiss the show as just another soap opera.
Some spoilers ahead for those who aren’t caught up.
What drew you to Liane Moriarty’s book? Why were you excited to bring it to the screen?
I thought the book was really well plotted. I loved all the characters, I thought they were really dynamic women and very truthful in their struggles and the way that they communicated with each other. I thought it was a unique opportunity to have five really talented, diverse women on screen together, which is something that doesn’t happen that often.
Did you always want to play Madeline, or did you ever consider playing any of the other roles?
I didn’t know who I was going to play. Nicole [Kidman] really wanted to play Celeste, but I don’t know, I thought for a minute I might have played Renata. But then I was in a meeting with David Kelley and Nicole and I said I didn’t know who I was going to play and they looked at me like I was crazy. They said, “You’re Madeline!” And I said, “I am? What do you mean?” And they were like, “You are very clearly Madeline.” And I thought, “Is this an insult? I don’t know.” But then I kind of started thinking how I would do this. I started talking to Nicole, she was very helpful when I was creating the character. We added a lot of stuff that wasn’t in the book.
I haven’t read the book, but I know that David E. Kelley rewrote a lot of Madeline for you. I know the affair with her play’s director, for example, wasn’t in the book. What was behind the decision to add that?
Well, we talked about it. I just felt like everybody sort of has a secret in the show. All five of us have a secret. We’re all hiding something from each other and I felt like Madeline needed something she was hiding as well; it added a new conflict for her to resolve. It was just something interesting to play instead of just being a busy body.
On that note, do you think Madeline and Ed have a good marriage?
I don’t think of it in terms of good and bad. I think they have an active marriage, they are working on their marriage. There are aspects that are really positive and there’s parts of it there are really difficult. I don’t know what “good” is, but there’s a lot of love there, for sure.
Reese made an appearance at NFL Owner’s Conference earlier in the week, and she spoke at a women’s conference. Here is a snippet about the event, and Reese posted a photo from the day on her Instagram:
A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on
Reese Witherspoon to speak to women’s gathering at NFL owners meetings
The NFL is making an attempt to get women involved in the league by creating more job opportunities for females to work as both scouts and coaches. Following in the wake of that commitment, the NFL has reportedly invited Oscar-winning actress, Reese Witherspoon, to speak at the annual owners meetings coming up next week.
This is a positive step the league is taking to ensure women can find opportunities to work in a field primarily dominated by males and to get women more involved in general.
‘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.
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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