Archive for the ‘Articles & Interviews’ Category
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.
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Reese held a Facebook live chat following a screening of her new movie Home Again yesterday – she chatted about her co-stars and character:
The Hollywood Reporter have published a fantastic interview with Reese in which she talks in depth about her entire career – from the early days of advertising campaigns, to her 90’a movies Fear, Twilight, Election, moving onto Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama and Vanity Fair, Oscars days of Walk The Line, her low patch of 2008-2012, then moving into producing Wild and Gone Girl, and the process of Big Little Lies. This is a must-listen!
‘Awards Chatter’ Podcast — Reese Witherspoon (‘Big Little Lies’)
‘America’s Sweetheart’ reflects on becoming an A-list superstar, hitting a terrible slump during which she was declared a ‘has-been’ and then reinventing herself as an actress/producer and Oprah-like champion of great books.
“I won the Oscar and I felt really confused about what to do next,” Reese Witherspoon confesses, in reference to her 2006 best actress victory for playing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, as we sit down at the Formosa Recording Studio in Santa Monica to record an episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Awards Chatter’ podcast. “I had paralysis — Oscar-induced paralysis,” she adds, along with her trademark giggle. “You don’t know what to do!” For Witherspoon, who had been on Hollywood’s A-list since 2001’s Legally Blonde, it marked the beginning of several years of personal and professional frustration, during which some began to write her off. “Someone in The New Yorker said that I was ‘a has-been’ or my career was over, and I remember thinking — how old was I in 2012, like 36? — I was like, ‘Wow, that’s brutal!’ That really bugged me.” But what no one, including Witherspoon, could have known — or even imagined — at that time was that her best days still were ahead of her, and that by 2017, she not only would have re-established herself as one of the most popular and respected actresses in the business (picking up an Oscar nom for 2014’s Wild and an Emmy nom for 2017’s Big Little Lies), but also as an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated producer (for those same two projects) wielding influence in the literary community not unlike that of Oprah Winfrey.
Listen to the podcast here
Witherspoon was born in New Orleans to a father who served in the Air Force and a mother who was a delivery nurse. The family moved around, but ultimately settled in Nashville, where their precocious young “type A” daughter soon began taking acting lessons and appearing in advertisements and commercials, landing a local agent at the age of 12. At 14, during the summer before starting high school, she found her first starring role in a movie, Robert Mulligan’s 1991 film The Man in the Moon. Even before the film’s release, her screen test went viral, and she quickly became in-demand. Throughout high school, she would work during the summers. She then starred in 1996’s Freeway, turning in a performance that “got a lot of attention,” during a gap-year before enrolling at Stanford; but she then spent just seven months at Stanford before irresistible film offers led her to move to Los Angeles and focus full-time on her career.
As a young-adult actress, Witherspoon gave memorable performances in strong films like Gary Ross’ Pleasantville (1998), as a nineties girl who finds herself in the fifties, and Alexander Payne’s Election (1999), as an ambitious and calculating high school student who “became a political archetype.” Then, in 2001, she played Elle Woods, a material girl who pursues her ex all the way to Harvard Law School, in Robert Luketic’s Legally Blonde. The $11 million movie had a $20 million opening weekend and made her, at just 23, and already a mother of a 1-year-old, a huge star. “I loved that character” and “underdog story,” she reflects, while also remembering the baggage that came with its success. “That’s when paparazzi started for me,” she says. “That’s when I started getting chased by 10 or 15 people.”
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Home Again: Reese Witherspoon explains the state of the modern rom-com
Reese Witherspoon isn’t quite sure how to categorize her next big-screen venture. “It’s about that very particular post-divorce time, and the insecurity and guilt that comes with it — so it isn’t really a romantic comedy,” she says. But first-time writer-director Hallie Meyers-Shyer (daughter of director Nancy Meyers) may have it sussed: “It’s a modern rom-com,” she says. “I noticed women were feeling comfortable getting divorced earlier in life, and I wanted to explore that trend.”
Witherspoon plays Alice, a 40-year-old mother of two who moves home to L.A. after her marriage falls apart. Somehow she finds herself boarding three aspiring filmmaker brothers in her guesthouse. “Together the three of them make the perfect man,” laughs Meyers-Shyer. Alice adapts nicely to live-in child care, tech support, and a relationship with the brother in his late 20s (Pico Alexander). “It’s kind of beautiful to see a May-December romance the other way around,” Witherspoon says. “It’s good to put that out there and challenge social arrays.”
The older-woman-younger-man romance isn’t the only love story in the movie. With the daughter of two Hollywood heavyweight moviemakers at the helm (father Charles Shyer produced and got an Oscar nomination for writing Private Benjamin and is also the writer-director of the Father of the Bride movies), Home Again is in part an ode to the filmmaking industry. “There’s a great love of cinema present in the film,” says Witherspoon. “Hallie is very respectful of the real craftsmanship and the sincerity of people’s artistry.” For Meyers-Shyer’s part, injecting the warm, sumptuous glow of old Hollywood was entirely intentional. “That’s exactly the quality I wanted the movie to have,” says the first-time director who grew up on movie sets watching her parents at work and learning that the position in the director’s seat was earned not awarded. “I wanted it to feel like a place you wanted to be. Hollywood is really the heart of Los Angeles and it’s based around an art form. There’s that bright reality TV thing that people picture when they think of L.A. now, so I was trying to do my part in showing L.A. as a sort of oasis and bringing back that idea of going west to follow your dreams.”
That dreamlike, candle-lit essence trickles over into the movie’s plot at times and yet, the most unlikely element of the story — a middle-aged mom taking in three jobless strangers — was actually born from reality. “When a friend of mine was growing up in L.A. her mother took in these three guys,” says Meyers-Shyer. “I love it when people tell me, ‘Oh I wish that that could actually happen; it seems like wish fulfillment,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, actually it did happen to somebody I know.’ I just thought it was very interesting and bohemian and it would fit in nicely with the character I had created.”
Still, following the true rom-com tried-and-tested formula, there had to be a male lead with enough charm to melt the best of intentions. “Casting Pico Alexander’s part was really tough,” says the writer-director. “It’s a part of a young movie star and I really wanted someone who embodied old-school Hollywood for that character. While I was writing it I pictured a young Jack Nicholson — those are some very hard shoes to fill, but Pico sent in a self tape and he just leapt off the screen.”
Nonetheless, despite the dewy backdrop and the attractive male suitor, the romantic fling isn’t the crux of the story. “That’s what makes it a modern romantic comedy,” says Witherspoon, finally giving in to that label. “It’s not about a woman finding love; it’s about a woman finding the best version of herself — and that’s very modern.”
Home Again opens Sept. 8.
Big Little Lies: How Nicole Kidman convinced Reese Witherspoon to play Madeline
Is it any surprise that actor-producer Reese Witherspoon’s first major TV project, HBO’s hit miniseries Big Little Lies, resulted in not just an Emmy nomination for her, but a whopping 16 for the show overall? The star, who also produced literary adaptations Gone Girl and Wild, turned Liane Moriarty’s thriller into a moody, suspenseful — but wonderfully funny — must-watch series that has viewers begging for a second season. And as lovable but complicated busybody Madeline Martha Mackenzie, Witherspoon, 41, was at the top of her game, spitting the show’s funniest lines one moment and delivering taut drama the next.
EW caught up with Witherspoon ahead of the Emmy Awards (airing Sept. 17) to talk about making the switch from film to TV, what story lines could be explored in a potential season 2, and how her costar (and co-producer) Nicole Kidman convinced her that her comedic role was necessary for the series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is essentially your first TV role, aside from some guest spots.
REESE WITHERSPOON: Yeah, this is the only thing I’ve ever done! [Laughs] I’ve never done TV before, other than being Jennifer Aniston’s sister on Friends and a Lifetime movie when I was 15.
Tell me about making the switch. What was it like getting to spend so much more time with a character?
It’s a very different process. It’s a much longer process, but as an actor, the ability to dig deeper into a character and have more time to live with these characters, I think [helps] you create a more whole picture of a human life. Nicole [Kidman] and I were approached and asked to make it into a feature film right before we were about to make a decision about what network we were going to go with, and we just really felt like we wanted to tell the story of five women, not two, and there just wouldn’t be enough time within a film format to get that deep level of storytelling.
And also, to be quite frank, audiences are much more deeply invested in these long-form storytelling opportunities. I think you get a lot more engagement. You’re chasing the audience that is Nicole and I’s audience for years and years, but it’s also Shailene’s audience and Zoë Kravitz’s audience. It’s important to go where your audience is, not expect them to necessarily come to you.
You had to balance so much in this role: Madeline had dramatic and comedic scenes, and she was a bully as much as she was a protagonist.
It was funny, when we were making it, Laura Dern and I kept looking at each other and going, “I think we’re in a comedy and everybody else is in a drama.” But I think that’s what makes it relatable and why people see themselves in it, because there’s a part of it that is so much about the intimacy of marriage and relationships and parenting and the secrets we keep from each other. And then there’s this whole other element of tension and mystery and murder, and that any one of us is capable of something truly horrible at any moment.
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Reese Witherspoon on ‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 Potential: “We’re Optimistic”
The actress talks to THR about the future of the limited series, the other TV character she’d like to play and the project she had to turn down because of the critically lauded HBO drama.
Ever since Big Little Lies wrapped its critically lauded run on HBO in April, there have been rumblings of a possible second season of the limited series.
Reese Witherspoon tells The Hollywood Reporter that those conversations are ongoing, and that she’s “optimistic” about doing more of the drama, which is based on Liane Moriarty’s book of the same name.
Ahead of the Emmys, the Oscar-winning actress chatted with THR about the future of the limited series, the other TV character she’d like to play and the project she had to turn down because of Big Little Lies.
There’s been talk of a potential second season of Big Little Lies. What’s the latest?
Honestly, it’s totally in [novelist] Liane Moriarty’s court. The ball is definitely in her court because these characters were born of her mind and her imagination, and we just want to see if she’s interested in creating more story about these characters. She really created an incredible road map for us that we followed almost to a T. Right now, we’re happy if this is all there is. We’re optimistic that there might be more.
And you’re talking to writer David E. Kelley about a second season as well?
Yes, he’s our producing partner.
What goes into the decision of continuing a limited series?
It just comes down to, do we have the story? It was a stand-alone book and there was nothing after that, so it’s up to the mind of the writer to create the vision for the journey of these characters. Right now, we have nothing. We don’t have a book. We’re certainly not going to create it out of thin air. [Moriarty’s] very deft at, first of all, creating tension through mystery, but also digging deep into the very intimate lives of female friendships — their relationships, their romantic relationships, their parenting styles.
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Reese attended the D23Expo in Anaheim, California earlier today, where the A Wrinkle In Time teaser trailer was premiered. Reese and her co-stars Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine spoke to the press about the film; there aren’t many – if any – photos or coverage online yet that I can find, but Variety tweeted this video featuring Reese:
A Wrinkle in Time first look: Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and more
The clock ticks, time bends, space shifts, and Oprah is your planet-hopping tour guide through all of it. Consider that your intro-level education to A Wrinkle in Time, Disney’s upcoming fantasy epic about an ordinary teenager named Meg (newcomer Storm Reid) who’s whisked on a cosmic adventure to find her missing scientist father (Chris Pine) with the help of three chimerical celestial beings who help her “wrinkle” time and space: philosophizing Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), inquisitive Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and wizened Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).
EW has an exclusive first look at the film, due in theaters March 9, 2018. (Check out even more images in the full gallery here.)
Director Ava DuVernay, fresh off of heavy projects like the civil rights drama Selma and her criminal-justice exposé 13th, was drawn to dabble in uncharted sci-fi territory upon discovering author Madeline L’Engle’s novel as an adult. DuVernay hadn’t read the novel — “I went to school in Compton and it wasn’t on my reading list,” she jokes — but the director, for whom time and energy on any project is a precious investment to say something, was impressed with the progressive ideas that L’Engle buried in her beloved 1962 novel. “I saw so much beauty in it, but also so much meaning. She’s a very radical thinker and she embedded her sense of what society should and could be in this piece, and a lot of it I agree with,” says DuVernay. “And through that, the story of this girl saving the world and being out there in the universe slaying the darkness, it also says a lot about slaying our own dragons.”
Two key elements convinced DuVernay that Wrinkle, with its script by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (Frozen), was worth investigating when Disney proposed the idea. “The first image [I had in my head] was to place a brown girl in that role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in,” she explains. “All of those scenes struck my fancy, and then it was also something that [Disney VP of production] Tendo Nagenda said to me, which I’ll never forget. One of the things that really made me want to read it was when he said, ‘Ava, imagine what you would do with the worlds.’ Worlds! ‘Planets no one’s ever seen or heard of,’ he said. There aren’t any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with.”
DuVernay plucked 14-year-old Reid from thousands of hopefuls across the country to play teen protagonist Meg, who travels the cosmos with her younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and unlocks her inner warrior along the way. “She’s got the sweetest, warmest heart, and all that I saw every day was just a further blossoming of the good that is Storm Reid,” the director gushes. “She’s appropriately named. She’s a force.” Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine play Meg’s parents, two world-renowned physicists, the latter of whom disappears under mysterious circumstances. “Chris is the first full-on heart-throb type of actor that I’ve ever worked with,” DuVernay notes. “That’s how the world sees him. But I always just saw a damn good actor. I saw Z for Zachariah and Hell or High Water, and I just knew I wanted him because I saw, that dude’s got chops.”
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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.
Big Little Lies (2017)
Genre: HBO TV Series - Drama
S2 - Filming in California now
News / Info / Photos / Official Site
Home Again (2017)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
On DVD/digital download now
News / Info / Photos / Official Site
A Wrinkle In Time (2017)
Role: Mrs Whatsit
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
On DVD /digital download June 5th (US)
News / Info / Photos / Official Site
→ Full Filmography
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Little Fires Everywhere
Untitled Producing Project with Kristin Wiig
Are You Sleeping
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
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