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.
Last night Reese attended the Los Angeles premiere of her new romantic comedy Home Again. She walked the red carpet with her daughter Ava, and posed with her director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, producer Nancy Meyers, and co-stars Lake Bell, Lola Flanery, Jon Rudnitsky, and Eden Grace Redfield. Reese wore a simple but striking red dress by Roland Mouret, with Christian Louboutin shoes. On the red carpet Reese chatted about what attracted her to the role, why she loves romantic comedies, her daughter Ava, her Emmy nomination, and her upcoming project with Jennifer Aniston. Reese looks so beautiful, and I love seeing her and Ava together! We have the first batch of HQ photos in our Gallery for you, and further down this post are some video interviews from the red carpet. This post will be updated with more coverage in the next few days too…
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.
Reese Witherspoon Reveals Her Favorite Fashion Trend
The actress talks cowboy boots and prairie dresses for the fall season.
These looks remind me so much of the clothes I wore growing up in the South. I was always dressing in prairie skirts and cowboy boots when I was little. I loved to watch Little House on the Prairie and play cowgirl. My favorite childhood memories are rooted in country music, doing square dances in cowboy boots. I learned to clog- and line-dance before I learned the fox-trot. I’m very influenced by country singers like Loretta Lynn, and, of course, Dolly Parton is my biggest idol. And I loved all the gorgeous long, flowing lace dresses Sissy Spacek wore when she played Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. Western is such a huge style in Nashville. There was a famous designer named Nudie, and everyone from Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton wore his suits. The clothes have real Western flair. It’s so cool to see the look being recognized now as a global fashion trend. Maybe it’s about returning to a time and place that people find comforting and when everything seemed simpler. But it’s always been a part of my life. I mean, you’re talking to the girl who wore cowboy boots to her own wedding reception. I switched out my gown and heels for a short dress and cowboy boots because they’re comfortable and fun to dance in. I do love the look of a pretty dress or a floor-sweeping skirt with cowboy boots. It’s feminine and a little rugged, which encapsulates my personality.
I remember being in fifth grade and begging my grandmother to buy me a prairie skirt, and when she finally did I wore it every day with white cowboy boots. I’m definitely a dress-or-denim-skirt-and-cowboy-boots sort of girl. Every time I put on a pair, I feel like I’m back home. It’s so funny because my daughter just walked into my room wearing an off-the-shoulder vintage prairie dress—she’s so on trend. Except that she was wearing sneakers, and I was like, “I wish you had some boots on.” I have so many pairs of cowboy boots; I buy them new from Betty Boots when I’m in Nashville. And I buy every single one of my kids cowboy boots, and they wear them until they fall off. I also wear mine until they’re threadbare. They look better when the leather is worn-out, then I resole them. The intricate stitching and detail on Western shirts are so pretty and add a little something, as do tasseled bags and purses. And I love cowboy hats, obviously. They’re beautiful, and they give a prairie dress or skirt that something extra. The best versions are those that aren’t overly embellished. I can wear a cowboy hat with anything—you have to own it. For an easy and chic way to incorporate a bit of Western into your wardrobe, I like the idea of a chambray shirt over a dress. We work a different iteration of the chambray and Western shirt into our Draper James collection [Witherspoon’s fashion label, which she launched in 2015] each season. For us down South, it’s the perfect layering piece because it’s so hot. Our Draper James chambray shirts and jeans are made in Blue Ridge, Georgia, by these wonderful women who have been making blue jeans for 40 years. It’s an honor to be part of that tradition. I think there’s a mood for wanting to celebrate classic Americana right now. The whole Western look is very romantic, and there’s no beating that wearability and durability factor.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, on newsstands now.
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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