Q&A: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern talk sex, ‘Lies’ and a second chapter for their HBO series
Many people thought they had “Big Little Lies” pegged after HBO aired the first episode of the limited series in February. Soapy whodunit. Bitchy behavior. Mommy wars. Privileged women. Impossibly gorgeous homes.
The series invited those judgments and then proceeded to methodically upend them, delivering a nuanced look at motherhood, domestic abuse and, yes, the ways that knee-jerk assumptions can be wrong, damaging and self-sabotaging. Ultimately, it’s about a group of women finding solace and strength in each other.
That dynamic played out among the cast, as we learn from a long conversation with “Big Little Lies” stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. In the series, Witherspoon plays Madeline, the community’s queen bee, who clashes with Dern’s steely career mom, Renata. Kidman plays Celeste, envied, elegant, but hiding a secret life of violent abuse.
These actresses adore one another and, in between Dern and Witherspoon planning a vacation together and stories of Dern’s dad, Bruce, visiting the set (“It was a scene with a lot of profanity,” Dern remembers, laughing, “and I think he brought out the best in us”), they spoke about what made the series so special and why they’re eager to bring it back for a second season.
People take this show to heart. They want to talk about it. Has that led to some interesting public encounters?
Kidman: I was on a plane coming out here last night and I had a guy stand up and go, “ ‘Big Little Lies’! Yes!” And I’m kind of embarrassed because of my character. I’m not quite sure how to communicate with people. Am I communicating on behalf of Celeste and saying, “I know”? It’s weird. And then the people sitting behind me told me, “We just really want a Season 2. That’s all we want to say.”
Dern: I think we all want a Season 2!
Nicole and Reese, you’re producers. You can make it happen.
Reese Witherspoon on Southern charm and ‘carrying the baton’
Reese Witherspoon ladled on her Southern charm to host a luncheon in L.A. with Porter magazine’s Lucy Yeomans on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of Draper James on the e-tailer. As Jennifer Garner, Molly Sims, Camilla Alves, Rachel Zoe, Ali Larter and more noshed on friend chicken, strawberry shortcake and sweet tea, the Oscar winner took five to chat with WWD about why Southern women look so good and her latest Hollywood projects.
WWD: Why was getting on Net-a-porter so important to you?
Reese Witherspoon: The global reach is so important. I believe the world is a small place now — we need to be reaching out to all our customers. I think everyone wants a story to be told. I’m telling a story about the American South, which is where I grew up, and the story of my grandmother, who taught me about fashion, getting your hair done and also presenting your best self to the world. We are out there to celebrate those moments that are maybe forgotten, like the baby shower, the wedding party, the garden party. Sometimes you just want to look pretty.
WWD: Why do Southern women always seem to go the extra distance?
R.W.: We’re taught from a very young age to do our hair. Also that color makes you happy. Putting your best self forward but also not taking yourself too seriously. Having fun with fashion. I love the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be about New York or Los Angeles. It’s this whole wide range of people all over our country that are just enjoying fashion and want to see themselves reflected in the media and in the fashion that’s created.
WWD: Even this beautiful house looks Southern.
R.W.: It belongs to my friend Benton Weinstock. She’s from Arkansas. I have my girls from the South who live in Los Angeles that I call my Southern mafia. We are always doing Kentucky Derby parties or having Christmas parties where we all sing carols. It’s really nice to have a bunch of friends here from the South. And it’s nice in the middle of the day, some lunch.
To promote the launch of the new Draper James collection for Net-A-Porter, Reese is on the cover of Net-A-Porter’s magazine The Edit; this is available as an online magazine and also a paper magazine. The spread features a casual yet really beautiful new photoshoot that showcases Reese’s natural beauty, and a really great new interview in which Reese talks about Big Little Lies, the way her career has progressed, her producing work, and Draper James. Be sure to read the interview below, and find the photoshoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans asap!
She’s an Oscar winner, a producer and runs her own label, but Reese Witherspoon isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She tells Jennifer Dickinson about making Hollywood sit up and listen.
Let’s imagine for a moment what it would be like to be friends with Reese Witherspoon; an incredible multitasker who seems to live in a world where the days consist of 30 hours instead of 24. Firstly, she will look you straight in the eye, then you’ll get that grin, the one that should be an addendum to Maria von Trapp’s My Favorite Things, so great is its power to radiate warmth. You’ll chat over coffee (strong) and you’ll mention the novel you’re reading, leading to an inner-fire-starting discussion about female identity and culminating with Witherspoon ordering the book from Amazon (she’s a very good customer). Then there will be the invitation to the baby shower she’s throwing for a mutual friend, her supportive shout-out on social media when your project gets off the ground, and the late-night text checking your son’s hospital appointment went Ok. And, somehow, instead of making you feel less than, you won’t resent her in the slightest because she’s not perfect and nor does she want to be: she’s just as likely as you to be late for the school pick up, or order margaritas at 5pm after a trying day. She’s on your side and that makes you want to be on hers.
It’s a personality recipe – insight, ambition, diligence, charm – that has made Witherspoon, 41, one of Hollywood’s most successful stars. And, so far, 2017 has been a great year, even by her standards. She’s just wrapped filming on Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, directed by the ever-impressive Ava DuVernay; is celebrating her fashion line Draper James going global via its launch on Net-a-porter; and then there’s Big Little Lies, the Tv phenomenon that actually merited the phrase ‘everyone’s talking about it’ earlier this year.
Reese and 5 other women from this year’s most acclaimed TV series appear on the cover of the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, as part of their regular ‘Roundtable’ series. The actresses discuss their recent work, their careers, and tackling social issues within their work. The entire interview is below for you to read, and we have the photoshoot images and magazine scans for you in our Gallery. Also within this post are some clips from the discussion; it sounds like the video of the whole interview will be available when its aired on SundanceTV later this month. Reese looks gorgeous in the new photos, and I love reading these interview where she talks about taking a more proactive role in developing quality projects.
Drama Actress Roundtable: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon on “Rage, Sorrow, Grief” and Sexism in Hollywood
Six complex women — also including Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, Elisabeth Moss and Chrissy Metz — debate the power and pain of strong females (onscreen and off-) amid a culture of discrimination in the industry and beyond: “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this much misogyny.”
When Oprah Winfrey decided to adapt The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO, she had two actresses in mind to play the role of Lacks’ daughter Deborah. But HBO Films president Len Amato wasn’t interested in her casting ideas: He wanted the media tycoon to be involved onscreen as well as off-. And after some heavy arm-twisting and a little time to get comfortable with the idea, Winfrey, 63, agreed — in part because the role allowed her to showcase, as she puts it, “a whole range of craziness.” It’s the opportunity to explore those layers of character and emotion that has drawn her and five other stars — Nicole Kidman, 49; Reese Witherspoon, 41; Elisabeth Moss, 34; Jessica Lange, 68; and This Is Us breakout Chrissy Metz, 36 — to work on television, as they revealed during The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Drama Actress Roundtable discussion on a Hollywood soundstage in May. “We have the opportunity to show the entire spectrum of human emotion that women have,” says Witherspoon, who, like Kidman, is a producer and star of HBO’s Big Little Lies. “We aren’t just the wives and the girlfriends. We are actually living, breathing people who have insecurities.” During the course of an hour, the six spoke candidly about the unexpected rewards and residue that come with inhabiting complicated women.
You have tackled ageism, sexism, misogyny, depression, domestic abuse, adultery and rape. When was the last time you were genuinely nervous to tackle a storyline?
OPRAH WINFREY (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HBO) I was genuinely nervous to take on the role of Deborah Lacks because look at this table. I come as the least experienced person at this table. I come as a person who has great respect for the craft of acting — and for years interviewing actresses and being inspired by actresses, but not developing the craft. I was really afraid to do that.
Afraid of what, exactly?
WINFREY I was afraid of making a fool of myself! (Laughter.)
NICOLE KIDMAN (Big Little Lies, HBO) That’s every day.
REESE WITHERSPOON (Big Little Lies, HBO) What are you talking about?! The Color Purple is so amazing.
WINFREY When was that? That was like 30 years ago now. And let me tell you what actually made me even more intimidated: I just finished doing a film with Reese and Ava DuVernay and Mindy Kaling [A Wrinkle in Time], and I just happened to ask Reese, “How many films have you done?” And you said, “Oh, honey child …” (Laughter.)
WITHERSPOON Do you all know how many movies you’ve done?
WINFREY You said, “I don’t know, 100 or so.” I was thinking, “Oh, God, I hope she doesn’t ask me because my number will be like, five, maybe?”
CHRISSY METZ (This Is Us, NBC) Oh, I’ve got you beat. I’ve done maybe one independent movie.
ELISABETH MOSS (The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu) I don’t know if I was nervous about the scenes themselves, but [Margaret Atwood’s] book itself is so beloved, so that was my only hesitation. I wanted to make sure that we were going to do the book justice and do it in the way that it should be done or we were going to get in trouble. I don’t have any fear with scary stories. That’s what I want to do. But I took six weeks to say yes because I wanted to make sure we were going to do a good job.
Reese Witherspoon on the Best Party She’s Ever Hosted and More!
Our Editor-at-Large, Darcy Miller, caught up with the actress and Draper James-founder to talk all-things parties, weddings, hosting, and gifts.
Working in this industry—and as a frequent wedding guest—I’m always on the lookout for thoughtful gift ideas. That’s why I was thrilled to discover Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s shop in Nashville. Named for her grandparents (Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon), it’s a charming southern home-and-clothing boutique. On a recent visit, I got a peek at the new Wedding Collection, full of gifts that you can easily make personal with a handwritten note or even a toast for the newlyweds. I also asked if Reese, who’s the ultimate host and gift-giver, would share some tips. Whether throwing a shower or attending a wedding, she knows just what to do, what to wear, and what to bring. Here’s some of her advice.
What was the best party you ever threw, and what made it great?
“Well, I throw a lot of parties, and a lot are in the backyard with barbecue or a tray of enchiladas. But my favorite ever was my 40th birthday—it was New Orleans-themed, with mint-julep cups and a second-line band. I got to share my southern upbringing with all my favorite people.”
How about the most memorable bridal shower you ever attended?
“It was at a barn in Bolinas, California. We watched the sun go down, drinking Napa Valley rosé. We sat at long farm tables with fresh farm-to-table food.”
Favorite shower theme?
“I love a garden theme. Hosting outside takes the pressure off having your house look perfect—you can let Mother Nature do all the work!”
How about a go-to cocktail?
“I learned to make southern sweet tea from my grandmother—she always served it when anyone dropped by. I’ve added my own twist to her recipe: I mix it with vodka for an easy cocktail, or add rum to make an iced-tea mojito.”
If you had to pick one detail for a successful party, what would it be?
“Great drinks and good music are all you need. Even if the food is bad! If the music is good and the drinks are flowing, everyone is happy.”
Tell me about the Wedding Collection and why you love it.
“These gifts are perfect for engagement parties and bridal showers. There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to weddings, so we created gifts to honor all the special moments and people involved. ”
People.com has the first look at Reese’s new upcoming movie Home Again, including 3 HQ stills (+1 from comingsoon.net):
Reese Witherspoon Says Working with a First-Time Female Director in Home Again ‘Was Very Exciting’: See Exclusive Pics
Reese Witherspoon is teaming up with a first-time female director to put a modern twist on her romantic-comedy roots in Home Again.
PEOPLE has the exclusive first look at the film, written and directed by a newcomer with an impressive pedigree, Hallie Meyers-Shyer. Her mom, Nancy Meyers, is the director behind hits like Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, as well as the writer of Private Benjamin. And Witherspoon says watching the mother-daughter duo work together (Nancy is a producer on Home Again) was her favorite part of the shoot.
“I’ve seen Private Benjamin and It’s Complicated so many times, I can’t even count,” Witherspoon tells PEOPLE. “It was an incredible opportunity to work with Nancy Meyers and her daughter, Hallie, who is a first-time, female filmmaker.”
She adds, “I really enjoyed the collaborative process with Nancy and Hallie. The idea that two women who had a lot of experience making films could help a young woman with her first feature film was very exciting to me.”
Home Again tells the story of Alice Kinney, played by Witherspoon, who has recently separated from her husband, played by Michael Sheen. After the split, Alice decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters.
As expected, Reese took to the stage at the first Vanity Fair Founders Fair conference today, during which she spoke about being a woman in business and her recent producing work. The Founders Fair gathers female entrepreneurs from different industries to talk about why they started their companies, how they built their businesses, and the lessons they’ve learned. Reese was joined by one of her investors, Forerunner Ventures founder Kirsten Green, and the twosome were interviewed by Vanity Fair West Coast editor Krista Smith. Reese’s cute little white dress is (presumably) from Draper James. We have the first photos in our Gallery, and scroll on down this post for a short article from the event. We’ll likely have more from this event for you in the coming days …
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.
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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