Archive for the ‘Articles & Interviews’ Category
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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The THR 100: Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful People in Entertainment
The second annual ranking brings new blood (Sony’s Tony Vinciquerra), stars who also produce (welcome, Reese!) and two Jenkinses (Barry and Patty), along with the movers and multihyphenates who make the town run and the stock prices soar.
Who in this town has actual power, anyway? In short, the people on this list do.
In compiling the THR 100, our second annual ranking of Hollywood’s most powerful people, we used one overarching criterion: the power of “yes.” THR 100 essentially is a greenlight list: who has the authority to take projects from a no to a yes or the talent and track record to make what he or she wants. There are objective factors, like the size of an executive’s empire (owning it helps, a la Shari Redstone), access to vast sums of money (both Megan Ellison and David Ellison) or the number of series a showrunner has on the air and their ratings (congrats, Ryan Murphy).
Then there’s the subjective element of heat around town: “juice,” for lack of a better word. The Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox is far more profitable than Netflix, but Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos rank higher because there’s no company more the subject of Hollywood fascination and envy these days than theirs. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman probably will end up grossing less worldwide than F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious, but the fact that Jenkins broke ground for female directors lands her (and not him) on the list. And so on.
In dozens of off-the-record conversations with top players, our team got an honest assessment of the pecking order at TV networks and film studios, the influence of talent agencies and the true value of stars (hint: It helps a lot when you also produce). Then the internal debate began: We started with 2016’s list but weren’t beholden to it. Some have risen significantly (producer Jason Blum rockets from 98 to 40 thanks to the surprise hits Get Out and Split), some have dropped (STX’s Bob Simonds and Adam Fogelson had a rough year at the box office) and some have fallen off entirely (sorry, Ben Affleck). And while Hollywood’s upper echelon remains overwhelmingly white and male, it’s a small sign of increasing inclusiveness that the number of women on the list (24, up from 19) and people of color (17, up from 10) are on the rise.
So congrats to everyone on the THR 100. You have actual power in this town.
98/100 Reese Witherspoon
The 41-year-old Oscar winner has emerged as one of the most formidable producers in film and television, snapping up new projects with a keen eye on adaptations and vehicles for other actresses. Her acting day job has yet to slow down, with upcoming roles in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and late-summer romantic comedy Home Again. She’ll also take the occasional gig from her own Hello Sunshine shingle — most notably HBO’s hit Big Little Lies.
BIG WIN Assembling an A-list cast, Nicole Kidman for one — in HBO’s Big Little Lies.
BIG BET Teasing the possibility of a second BLL season.
Best advice I’ve received about power I had the privilege of working with Oprah Winfrey on a movie for three months this year, and she taught me so much about business. She does not waste a minute of her time, and she does it all with grace and style and humor. She is hustle personified.
What I’ve learned about my job from my kids My kids help me understand emerging platforms and the opportunity there to reach a broader audience. It inspired me to expand my production company into digital and mobile content for women and create a dialogue on social media with my fans.
My primary news source The Wall Street Journal, the Skimm and Business of Fashion.
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.
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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.
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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 (2019)
Season 2 availabe now on HBO
Genre: HBO TV Series - Drama
News / Info / Photos / Official Site
The Morning Show (2019)
Season 1 airing late 2019?
Genre: Apple TV Series - Drama
News / Info / Photos /
Legally Blonde 3 (2020)
Filming in 2019, to be released on May 8th 2020
Role: Elle Woods
News / Info /
Photos / Official Site
Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
Season 1 airing 2020
Role: Elena Richardson
Genre: Hulu TV Series - Drama
News / Info / Photos /
Sing 2 (2020)
To be released December 25th 2020
Genre: Animation, comedy, musical
News / Info / Photos /
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