Romantic comedies are nothing new for Reese Witherspoon, but her role in James L. Brooks’ new film, How Do You Know, presented some interesting challenges.
“This character is a woman who has a hard time conveying her emotions — and doesn’t even really want to talk about things,” Witherspoon says of professional softball player, Lisa.
“The biggest challenge for me was she’s not verbal, and I’m used to playing really talkative characters and women who speak about their relationships and talk about love and dynamics and boys with their girlfriends,” the actress explains.
“And she doesn’t really have that Greek chorus of women around her,” she adds. “So that was a new character for me, and really interesting. And I had to meet a lot of women like that.”
The film follows Lisa as her affections pinball between a commitment-phobic baseball player (Owen Wilson) and an honest-to-a-fault businessman (Paul Rudd).
“It’s a tough job, ladies, but someone’s got to do it,” she says of working with Wilson and Rudd. “How lucky am I to work with two of the most talented, funny, attractive, hysterical men?”
On set, Witherspoon found her own feelings mirroring that of her character, making it hard to choose between the two co-stars.
“Every time we’d do a scene with Owen I’d get really attached to Owen, and then I go and do scenes with Paul and I felt like I was cheating on Owen,” she says.
Though there are only a handful of scenes in the film in which Lisa is on the field, Witherspoon says Brooks wanted to get every detail right when it came to softball and how a lifelong athlete operates. And for Witherspoon, that meant meeting even more women.
“I got to work with all these Olympians, softball players,” she says. “I’m not really that athletic. So I did that for four months, three hours a day.” Certainly that much training must have had some benefit, right? Wrong.
“I’m still not any good at softball,” she admits.