Playing With Fires: Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington join forces for Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere
In the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) is sitting down to dinner with her husband and four kids in the meticulously decorated dining room of her spacious home. Across town, single mom Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) is also sitting down to a meal with her daughter…at Lucky Palace, the Chinese restaurant where she recently landed a waitressing job. Mia and young Pearl (Lexi Underwood) are new to the city, and they don’t intend to stay long — certainly not long enough for the smoke to clear.
Hulu’s eight-episode limited series Little Fires Everywhere is based on Celeste Ng’s best-selling 2017 novel about a tight-knit (and uptight) Midwestern community in the ’90s and what two very different moms bring out in each other. “They have this commonality between them, which is that they believe they’re doing what’s best for their children,” says showrunner Liz Tigelaar, who worked on the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show that starred Witherspoon as an impulsive TV reporter. “Through the story, that notion gets unraveled in both of them. They each hold up a mirror to the other, and the results change their lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of the people in the town.”
Because, as the title suggests, this story ends with fire — or rather, that’s where it starts. Both the book and the series open with a house fire, one that seems to point to Elena’s problem child, Izzy (Megan Stott), as the person holding the match. But nothing’s quite as it seems. Slowly, we get to know the rest of Elena’s children — Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn), the overachiever with a thing for cardigans, Trip (Jordan Elsass), the archetypal jock who just needs to find the right girl to reveal his heart of gold, and Moody (Gavin Lewis), the sensitive guy destined to live in the friend zone. Then there’s Pearl Warren, the new girl, who finds herself deeply entangled in the lives of all of the Richardsons. It’s a story about the simplest of human interactions, and how those interactions can provoke larger conversations about racism and classism. That’s what made Ng’s novel a success and why Witherspoon selected it as the fourth pick in her book club.
In a nice moment of light relief, Reese is gracing the cover of the April issue of Vanity Fair magazine! The article focuses on Reese’s love of books and her success in turning books into well-received movies and TV series with strong female leads – including Little Fires Everywhere. It’s a long but good read, and always really nice to see Reese being celebrated and acknowledged in this way. The magazine also has a gorgeous new photoshoot! Read the interview below or at Vanity Fair, and find the photoshoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you when the magazine is released on news-stands.
In recent years, Reese Witherspoon has turned her literary obsession into an empire. Her latest brilliant book adaptation: Little Fires Everywhere, which debuts March 18 on Hulu.
I first met Reese Witherspoon three years ago at Parnassus Books, the store I co-own in Nashville. She’d come to interview me for Hello Sunshine, her media company, and when the interview was finished, our events manager asked Witherspoon if she’d be willing to have her picture taken with one of our shop dogs, Mary Todd Lincoln, a dappled, silky dachshund who’d been photographed with any number of celebrities in the past. It’s Nashville, after all; it’s the kind of thing we do here. Witherspoon took the little dog and tucked her into an open space in the bookshelf behind her, then proceeded to run the gamut of human emotion: joy, surprise, eagerness, love, suffering, hope—spinning out a master class of acting in less than a minute. The amazing part was not how good Witherspoon was at this—she’s a very good actor—the amazing part was how she managed to shine the enormous light of her talent onto a nine-pound dog. In frame after frame, the viewer’s eye skips the movie star and goes straight to the dachshund, which first appears coy, then knowing, then resplendent. If Oscars were given to pups, everyone would have agreed that this was Mary Todd Lincoln’s year.
Reese appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show today, although it was taped last week. She promoted Little Fires Everywhere, and also talked about Beyonce and Jay-Z, her recent photoshoot for Harper’s Bazaar, a scene that was cut from her first appearance on SNL in 2001, the 90’s and TikTok. Reese and Ellen then played a game of ‘Danger Word’. Below are the clips, and we have HQ stills in our Gallery:
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington on Going ‘Toe-to-Toe’ in ‘Little Fires Everywhere’
In Little Fires Everywhere, series stars Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon play two strong-willed women and mothers, who come from vastly different backgrounds and social spheres, and whose lives become inexorably intertwined through a web of deceit, secrets and self-deception.
While their roles called for a few scenes of heated confrontation, both stars seemed to enjoy the experience of facing off against one another on screen. ET’s Kevin Frazier sat down with the pair during a junket for the Hulu drama, and they opened up about shooting some of their more intense showdowns.
“It was so much fun,” Washington recalled excitedly. “I felt a little nervous when we did it because I felt the pressure. Because people were crowding around the monitor like it was a major fight. Like it was Vegas.”
“Once we got started it felt so good to be in a scene with a scene partner who is so talented and adept and courageous in the work,” Washington added. “I mean she’s a phenom so it was really fun.”
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere is a tale of intrigue and domestic strife, and both Washington and Witherspoon’s characters find themselves in direct conflict — with neither willing to concede ground and both strengthened by their staunchly held belief in their moral integrity.
“I feel like it was such a good [dynamic] cause it was such an equal match,” Witherspoon shared. “We really went toe-to-toe and we both had these fierce ideologies that our characters were so really dug in about.”
Coronavirus: Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington on canceled premiere, ‘social distancing’
Coronavirus has thrown a wrench into kickoff plans for Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington’s upcoming Hulu miniseries “Little Fires Everywhere.”
The series, based on the bestselling 2017 novel by Celeste Ng, has received rapturous reviews ahead of its March 18 release, with USA TODAY writing that “the two producer/stars not only meet but easily exceed towering expectations.”
“Fires” charts what happens when the delicate balance in the postcard-perfect suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio, is thrown out of whack by the clash of two families. Set in 1998, the show watches white, rich, starkly blonde Elena Richardson (Witherspoon) and her husband, Bill (Joshua Jackson) cope with the arrival of artist and single mother Mia Warren (Washington) and her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood).
A splashy premiere was planned for Thursday night in Los Angeles, but has been canceled, like all major public events in Hollywood and beyond, in the wake of the coronavirus spread.
Today, the show soldiered on with its press day in Beverly Hills. Many of those interviews moved to phones (including this interview, at USA TODAY’s request). Media attending were asked by publicists to “please refrain from shaking hands/selfies/touching on-site. Additionally, should anyone feel they may be getting sick, we respectfully ask that the outlet send a different press member in your place.”
Witherspoon and Washington spoke jointly with USA TODAY, with more of the interview to follow next week.
Question: How are you feeling today about the coronavirus news?
Reese Witherspoon: I’m feeling everything that everyone out there is feeling: Confusion, stress. I’m trying to look for the most scientific facts and not listen to too much opinion. I feel flooded by opinion. (I’m) talking to friends who I find very grounding. But Kerry and I are similar in that we both have young children and older parents and (are) just navigating that thoughtfully.
Kerry Washington: As Reese said, (I’m) trying to gather the information that we need to get in order to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but also remembering that your stress level can impact your immunity, and so to try and be calm as well.
Witherspoon: It’s never happened in my lifetime. Talking to my mother and hearing a historical perspective is interesting from her. But I think we’re all in new territory.
Q: What are your thoughts on the cancellation of tonight’s “Little Fires Everywhere” premiere?
Witherspoon: (It was) absolutely necessary. Social distancing is critical right now as we are trying to protect our most vulnerable.
Q: Is it true that the second season of “The Morning Show” is now on hiatus for two weeks?
Witherspoon: Yes that’s correct. We were filming. I shot yesterday and then Apple made the decision last night. And I think it was the right one.
Hulu Cancels ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ Premiere Over Coronavirus Concerns
With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spreading in the U.S., Hollywood has been canceling large gatherings to help slow the outbreak. The latest event to be pulled over the coronavirus is the March 12 premiere of Hulu’s new limited series Little Fires Everywhere starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The streamer just notified attendees of the cancellation in an email.
“As you are all aware, the current state of affairs has altered the daily lives of many people, including our cast and crew. After hearing from many of you, and out of an abundance of caution, we are canceling tomorrow’s Little Fires Everywhere premiere screening and celebration,” Hulu said in the email. “We are extremely proud of this series and can’t wait to share it with you when it debuts on Hulu on March 18. Thank you for your understanding.”
Based on Celeste Ng’s bestselling book, Little Fires Everywhere premieres March 18.
Developed and written by Casual‘s Liz Tigelaar, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Joshua Jackson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jade Pettyjohn, Jordan Elsass, Gavin Lewis, Megan Stott, Lexi Underwood and Huang Lu also star.
The series is produced by Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, Washington’s Simpson Street and ABC Signature Studios, a part of Disney Television Studios. Tigelaar serves as creator, showrunner and executive producer. The series is also executive produced by Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Lauren Levy Neustadter, Pilar Savone and Lynn Shelton. Author Celeste Ng serves as producer.
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