‘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.”
The 6th and penultimate episode of Big Little Lies – ‘Burning Love’ – aired on Sunday on HBO. It was a relatively slow-burning episode, but set up a potentially fast-paced and exciting finale. The episode show-cased another fantastic and particularly nuanced performance from Reese – she had a couple of very emotive and profound scenes, and one particularly hilarious scene. Madeline is in some ways taking a bit of a backseat to Celeste and Jane, who are both currently at the centre of the main part of the drama/mystery storyline, but she’s bringing real heart and humour to the show, not to mention Reese’s usual perkiness. I can’t wait to see how the show wraps up!
HD screencaptures from ‘Burning Love’ are in our Gallery:
The final episode of Big Little Lies airs next Sunday – here’s a preview:
After yet another fight, Celeste (Nicole Kidman) makes a bold move. Before the school’s long-awaited fall fundraiser, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) deals with fallout from her past, while Jane (Shailene Woodley) learns who’s really been hurting Amabella (Ivy George) at school.
The penultimate episode of Big Little Lies airs tonight on HBO, and over the past week we’ve added HQ stills from the episode to our Gallery. HBO have also released a clip from the show which does not show Madeline unfortunately, but focuses on Celeste – watch that below. We’ll have screencaptures and clips from this new episode for you in the coming days. Be sure to tune in to watch the show tonight if you can!
Scans from 3 new/recent magazines Reese has been featured in this year have been added to the Gallery. She’s on the cover of the new issue of Psychologies (UK), which features the much-under used 2015 Time magazine photoshoot; Woman & Home (South Africa) re-print an old In Style photoshoot in a nice spread; and US TV Guide had a short feature on Big Little Lies in their February issue.
On a side note, we’ve noticed people are reposting large sections of our Gallery on blog/social media pages. In the future we ask that you post a link to the content on our site rather than simply reposting everything with no credit. Thanks.
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.”
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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