Reese Witherspoon: Hot, Happy and Having a Blast
Reese Witherspoon has starred in 25 films (and produced five), birthed two kids and won an Oscar. So why does it seem like Reese’s life is just beginning? She talks to Glamour about men, moves and finding her mojo. Read the interview, then check out the pics from her photo shoot.
by Skip Hollandsworth
Reese Witherspoon walks into Cookshop, a restaurant in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, bearing a gift: a small box of chocolates. When I say I’ll always cherish them, she cocks her head, levels her blue eyes on me and cheerfully snaps, “You’d better eat them.” At the age of 34, she is as tiny as a kitten, barely 5’2”. But it doesn’t take long to realize there is nothing fragile about her. She whips off her gray sock hat, orders chicken soup and is soon recounting the seven months she spent training with the UCLA softball team to prepare for her latest romantic comedy, How Do You Know, in which she plays a former star athlete transitioning out of her twenties. Witherspoon, too, went through a significant transition as she entered her thirties: a divorce from actor Ryan Phillippe, the father of her two children. Afterward, she took a break from acting; a two-year relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal came to an end in 2009. But now she is quietly involved with Hollywood agent Jim Toth (who, at press time, she tells Glamour she’s not engaged to) and back to working full-time. And she’s ready to open up. Maybe it was all that softball, but Witherspoon happily took a swing at every question thrown at her.
GLAMOUR: First off, let’s talk about this photo shoot. I don’t recall you doing these kinds of photos in your twenties. Do you feel sexier at 34 than you did a decade ago?
REESE WITHERSPOON: Much. I was always, as a younger actress, very conscious of not wanting to act sexy. I didn’t see myself like that. But I think as a woman, you get older, you feel more confident in your sexuality. You’re not as intimidated by it, not as embarrassed by it. Sexuality and femininity is an accumulation of age and wisdom and comfort in your own skin. I feel better—so much better now than I ever did in my twenties. I am calmer; I know who I am. And as a result, I feel much sexier.
GLAMOUR: Sexier in the way that you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I look good”?
REESE WITHERSPOON: It’s more like, “This is what I’ve got. And I’m going to make the best of it.” There’s always going to be somebody younger or sexier. That’s why I like to say, and it’s become my famous line, “Funny doesn’t sag.” When somebody comes up to me and says, “You look hot in that movie,” I always respond, “But was I funny?” For me, it’s not really about how you look but about the joy or the bit of light that you bring to whatever you do. I know I’m just more attracted to people who have a light about them.
GLAMOUR: Speaking of being attracted to someone, is it easier to date a noncelebrity than a celebrity?
REESE WITHERSPOON: I have a little perspective on this. I wouldn’t say it’s easier. Every relationship has its own dynamic. And I don’t want to disparage any of the other relationships that I’ve had that were meaningful and wonderful. But what I’m finding out is that it’s very comfortable to be with somebody who understands my career, but doesn’t do what I do. He’s a great guy. He’s wonderful.
GLAMOUR: Obviously the paparazzi and the tabloids are obsessed. How do you handle it? Do you have to stage-manage your life, like figuring out obscure places to go for dinner?
REESE WITHERSPOON: No, we just go out to dinner. Not that we go to fancy restaurants. The ones we go to, we don’t get bothered all that much.
GLAMOUR: Now that your two kids are getting older [Witherspoon’s daughter, Ava, is 11, and her son, Deacon, is 7], how do you keep them from being exposed to all the gossip?
REESE WITHERSPOON: We have one computer that they have to share, and it literally has every blocker you can possibly have on it. I’ve even gone into the parental controls and typed in gossip websites, specific things they cannot search, my name, their names, all sorts of things.
GLAMOUR: Still, if Ava googles you on a different computer, what’s going to come up first?
REESE WITHERSPOON: I don’t know. Right now it probably says I’m getting married [laughs], which isn’t true.
GLAMOUR: I read that the median age for women who get divorced for the first time is right around 30 years old….
REESE WITHERSPOON: [Laughs.] There’s this great book called How to Get Divorced by 30. It’s hysterical. I’ve read it a couple of times. And I think I could have written it.
GLAMOUR: So what advice would you give a woman who is going through something like that?
REESE WITHERSPOON: I always say that it’s very important not to blame one person. You have to own whatever part of it you’re responsible for. It takes a lot of soul-searching. It’s important to go through that, because hopefully you won’t repeat yourself.
GLAMOUR: What have you learned?
REESE WITHERSPOON: I’m a very, very optimistic person, and I feel very lucky to have the chance to try again, you know?
GLAMOUR: Would you ever have children again?
REESE WITHERSPOON: Sure, I would love to have more kids. Kids are the best part of my day. I don’t wake up to make movies. I wake up to hang out with my family.
GLAMOUR: You’re at an age now when the majority of Hollywood actresses are just beginning to ponder the idea of having a child.
REESE WITHERSPOON: Well, Skip, I’m from Tennessee. We have kids early. Both of my pregnancies were easy. I didn’t know anything; I just went into it. I never held a baby until I held my own baby.
REESE WITHERSPOON: Seriously.
GLAMOUR: It’s now been 10 years since Legally Blonde. You’ve talked before about how you were so driven early on to make your mark as an actress. Do you still feel that same drive at 34?
REESE WITHERSPOON: I was pretty myopic when I started in the movie business. And now my interests have expanded. I haven’t lost my ambition. I would just say my ambition has sort of broadened. I’m more interested in literature, art, public policy. And I’m really interested in doing more philanthropic endeavors. I think my work with Avon [supporting women internationally] opened my eyes. When you learn that one in three women worldwide is affected by violence…I mean, that’s everybody’s mother, sister or best friend, and their children, too. A cycle of abuse gets started that never ends. People go, “[Domestic abuse] would never happen to me because I’m too smart,” but it’s usually very, very smart women that this happens to.
GLAMOUR: You won the Oscar in 2006 [for Walk the Line], but there’s obviously still a part of you that loves doing romantic comedies.
REESE WITHERSPOON: I love romantic comedies. I watch them all the time. I love all my fellow female romantic queens, like Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner and Katie Heigl. I also think that the questions romantic comedies ask about men and women are universal. Someone will say to me, “I see you’re in another romantic comedy. Haven’t you done that movie before?” But I think about my daughter. She has never seen When Harry Met Sally. When she sees her generation’s version of that film, it will be the first time for her, and she’ll find it mind-blowing that someone managed to chronicle deep personal thoughts on relationships into a film.
GLAMOUR: Everything seems to be going so well for you. Right now, what would you say you love most about your life?
REESE WITHERSPOON: Sunday mornings. Even when I was a child, Sunday morning was a barometer for how the week was going to go. You can learn a lot about yourself with what you’re doing and who you’re with on a Sunday, I think. I’m really, really lucky. I’ve got a lot of love in my life. I’ve got great friends. I have two great kids whom I make pancakes for every Sunday. I’m very blessed.