Reese is on the cover of the November 23 issue of Parade! Check out the cute photos of Ms. W and the fantastic article below. Reese talks mostly about family, her relationships and children.
“Do I need men? I don’t think it’s about needing men. It’s about love… Everybody needs love, Everyone deserves it.”
“Family is all we have in life, but I don’t know how I feel about marriage, Obviously, I’m not far enough out of being married to think about doing it again. You sort of reconstitute your family. You find a family, with people who come into your life for a reason.”
“It takes perseverance and determination for any young woman to navigate the movie business, It’s deeply offensive when they are objectified, treated like sex toys. It’s so easy to get attention early on in your career when you promote only the sexual side of yourself. It gains you popularity, but it doesn’t mean anything. Five years later, no one knows your name, and you wonder why.
– Photoshoots: Parade (2008)
– Magazine Scans: Parade – November 23, 2008
‘Do I need men?” actress Reese Witherspoon asks. “I don’t think it’s about needing men. It’s about love.”
Sitting in a quiet corner of a Beverly Hills hotel lounge overlooking a garden, Reese wears a chic black dress, black open-toe pumps, and gold dangle earrings. An Oscar-winner for 2005’s Walk the Line, Reese, 32, is reportedly the world’s highest-paid actress. She is also astonishingly beautiful. Her new movie, Four Christmases, a comedy about family ties co-starring Vince Vaughn, opens this month.
“Everybody needs love,” she tells me. “Everyone deserves it.”
The great love of Reese’s life was once actor Ryan Phillippe, 34. They met at her 21st birthday party in 1997 and married two years later. She admits that in some respects she was naïve to believe that her marriage would last forever. “I wasn’t good about protecting myself,” she explains. “I spent a lot of my 20s just trying to make other people happy, rather than trying to figure out if doing that made me happy.”
Three months after they wed, their daughter Ava, now 8, was born. A son, Deacon, arrived in 2003. Then, a year ago, she and Ryan divorced.
“There are things in my life that are hard to reconcile, like divorce,” she says. “Sometimes it is very difficult to make sense of how it could possibly happen. Laying blame is so easy. I don’t have time for hate or negativity in my life. There’s no room for it. When you make wrong choices, you have to take responsibility for them: ‘What part of this do I own?’”
She pauses and takes a sip of tea. “I struggle to figure out what made me make those choices,” she admits. “All I can hope for is that I’ve learned something from it and won’t make the same choices again.”
Reese became a movie star by choosing to play tough, single-minded careerists or conniving, manipulative social climbers in films like Election, Legally Blonde, and Vanity Fair. However, in person, she is nothing like the movie roles that made her famous. Instead, vulnerability underlies her finishing-school poise.
“I want to be understood,” she says. “Even as a child, I didn’t feel like I was. I still see that part of myself that wants approval, and that’s a constant need.”
Reese was raised with traditional values in Nashville, the only daughter in a devout Episcopalian family. She has an older brother. Her father, John, is a surgeon, and her mother, Betty, is a professor of nursing. “It was a close-knit community,” she recalls. “We’d go to church and see people in need in the pew next to us, and I was taught compassion and service by watching my parents helping them.”
Today, Reese remains active in charities that help children and abused women, like the Avon Foundation and Save the Children. “It’s not acceptable in this country that one in six children lives below the poverty line,” she states. “People have to get back to really taking care of one another.”
When Reese first arrived in L.A., she quickly felt that the treatment of women by Hollywood was repugnant—and she still feels that it is.
“It takes perseverance and determination for any young woman to navigate the movie business,” she says. “It’s deeply offensive when they are objectified, treated like sex toys. It’s so easy to get attention early on in your career when you promote only the sexual side of yourself. It gains you popularity, but it doesn’t mean anything. Five years later, no one knows your name, and you wonder why.
“Trust me, I’ve had my moments,” she adds. “I’m like a junkyard dog. I’d say, ‘Why are they asking me to wear a bikini?’ I get tough, because I see the slippery slope. I’ve heard the way roles are cast. There are a lot of women who don’t respect themselves and hurt themselves. I grew up knowing strong women who value who you are and what you contribute to life.” This sense of strength still helps Reese today.
“Turning 30 was really big for me,” she says. “I can get really stuck on ‘I don’t like this or that about myself.’ I’ve found that the only thing that breaks that for me is being able to spend time alone, going to the movies by myself or going to art museums alone. I do that a lot. I’ve discovered the importance of even 15 or 30 minutes a day where it is just me.”
Since their divorce, both Reese and Ryan continue to share the care of their children. Both kids, she says, still know they have the same two parents. “My ex-husband is very involved in raising our beautiful children,” she says. “We’re very lucky because we both grew up in working families in middle America. We’re on the same page that way. When we’re with our children, we’re very good about checking ourselves.
“I’m teaching the children what we were taught growing up—a real set of rules, discipline, and love,” she says. “Children thrive with a sense of structure, and they’re frightened without it. The ways you behave, how you speak to other people—those things don’t leave you.”
I ask if she worries about her children’s safety. “After my second baby, I was scared,” she recalls. “It’s hard to protect your babies from the press and all the people out there wanting a part of you. It made me hibernate a little bit more. I got very ‘Mama Bear’ and protective. You give birth, and worry and guilt come with it. It’s a natural part of being a parent. But for me, the most difficult part is seeing my children being followed and harassed. They’ve been treated terribly. They were shouted at in their Halloween costumes, photographers screaming, ‘You don’t look scared!’ We used to take our daughter to a wonderful school, and she was so harassed that we had to take her out. I hope not to live in this place forever.
“The biggest detriment of my life is tabloid fame,” she continues. “It removes me from people. When I first meet someone, it is so hard for me to overcome everything they’ve read about me. It’s not fair. It’s difficult, because I’m the kind of person who just wants to hug people.”
Since her divorce, Reese’s long friendship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, 27, has garnered increasing media attention. A year ago, as she and Jake starred together in the film Rendition and her divorce was being finalized, the media speculation about their romance heated up. When Jake’s in Los Angeles, he reportedly stays at her home. Recently, Jake, Reese, and her kids have been spotted together in London and Paris, leading to questions of possible marriage.
“Family is all we have in life, but I don’t know how I feel about marriage,” she tells me. “Obviously, I’m not far enough out of being married to think about doing it again. You sort of reconstitute your family. You find a family, with people who come into your life for a reason.
“I definitely still have a capacity to love,” she continues. “Someone said to me once, ‘No matter what breakup you went through or what new love you find—the love you remember, like the love you now value, is yours. Whatever love you once gave to somebody else, it doesn’t go away. Even if it is only remembered love, it belongs to you.’”
“Things change,” she says, “but your ability to love remains intact. Oh, I have a lot of hope for love! I do!”
Reese Witherspoon says that she and her former husband, actor Ryan Phillippe, try to raise their two children as normally as possible, despite having divorced last year. She tells me that she uses the lessons she learned as a child to bring up her own kids today. Reese and Ryan have two children, son Deacon, 5, and daughter Ava, 8.
“Now that I have children of my own, my childhood in Nashville, Tennessee keeps coming back to me. Both my parents worked, so my brother and I used to walk home from school everyday or my grandmother would come pick us up and take us home. Most people come from two working parents. You just can’t survive now, especially in this economy, without each parent having a job. My parents couldn’t have paid the bills if my mother hadn’t also worked.”
Reese’s father, John, is an ear, nose and throat surgeon who served in the U.S. military. Her mother, Betty, holds a doctorate in pediatric nursing.
“Today I see more men at my children’s school dropping off and picking up their kids, really participating in their lives more than when I was growing up. I do think things are evolving, and it’s becoming more important for parents to be more equal and balanced in raising children.
“I teach my children what was taught to me, although I’m not really aware I’m even doing it. I have a real sense of morality that was instilled in me when I was young, these traditions and family values that stay with you despite the ups and downs of your life. It was a very different value system than I see now.
“The other day my son said to me, ‘Mama, why do I have to take off my hat in the house?’ I was like, ‘Because it’s respectful. That’s why you take off your hat.’ And he goes, ‘And I always have to take off my hat in church, too!’ It really bothered him. But those values sustain a life. Respect. Faith. Empathy. Compassion.
“I want my own children to have some sense in them that there is something bigger than us in the universe, that they are not in control of everything. You’re going to know lows in your life that you never expected, and highs that you won’t know how to process. Knowing that there is something bigger than us out there — God is there — that really helps.”
Reese attended Harpeth Hall, an exclusive all-girls private prep school in Nashville. Despite being well-liked student, a gymnast, a cheerleader, and a debutante, she says she never felt fully accepted. She wanted to seem normal, like everyone else, despite having been in local TV commercials at 7 and starring in her first movie, The Man in the Moon, at 14.
“I feel like I am seeking understanding. Popularity is not part of it. Popularity is literally about behaving the right way and saying the right things. To me, that was easy. But I wanted to be understood. I still feel like no one really knows me.”
In 1994, Reese entered Stanford University, in Palo Alto, as an English major. She left after a year to make a movie Twilight, a movie with Paul Newman.
“I was at a place in my life where I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist, although I wasn’t that great in science, or an actor. Then somebody called and said, ‘Would you like to make a movie with Paul Newman?’ I ended up doing this wonderful movie, Twilight with Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. It was an extraordinary experience for me to work with Paul.
“I loved Stanford, and I wish I had gone back and finished. Today, if I were not an actor, I’d probably be a social anthropologist or a psychologist. I have an endless curiosity about people. But then I think, ‘I’ve been very lucky. I don’t regret the path I went on in life’.