Reese Witherspoon spills the beans on friendship with Big Little Lies co-star Nicole Kidman
Friends and business partners, Big Little Lies co-stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman share an intense and complex bond.
In an candid new interview with news.com.au, Witherspoon lifts the lid on their relationship, which — like that of so many female co-stars in Hollywood — has faced many a tabloid report of “secret feuding”.
“We’ve gotten along, we’ve had fights, and we’ve gotten over it,” explains Witherspoon.
The Oscar-winning actresses and producing partners clearly spend a lot of time together. “We’ve had every kind of experience together. We’ve been on vacation, we’ve worked together and we’ve disagreed about things, but I think that’s the beauty of having a real partnership with someone. Ours is a real friendship. It’s not a fake, phony Hollywood picture, you know? I really value that about our friendship.”
Prior to their collaboration as producers on Big Little Lies, they knew each other socially but became close friends once they started working together on the award-winning series, which is available to stream on Foxtel.
“Nicole and I were talking today about how fortunate we are to have each other through this (Big Little Lies) process. It’s the biggest success I’ve ever had with another woman, in my entire career, and hers. For me, to have that experience with her, to be in the trenches with her, it’s been everything.”
Both actresses are hands-on producers and were on-set much of the time.
“Whenever she couldn’t be there, I’d be there. And if I couldn’t deal with a problem, she would handle it. It really is a testament to female partnership and how amazing we are together,” Witherspoon says.
“I mean, we’re very fine as individuals, but we are extraordinary together because we support each other and completely understand what we’re trying to accomplish as a team. I’m so grateful for her partnership and her friendship. She’s just a lovely person I feel really lucky to know.”
And what happens when a disagreement raises its head? Who is the one to make up?
“Well, we both want to resolve things. We both know that not expressing things is not healthy.”
She pauses. “I think we’ve been shocked sometimes when we got to that place where we were really upset with each other, but there’s always a spirit of ‘We’re going to get through this’, even if we’ve had to walk away and think it over. We’ve always found a way back to each other.”
Like its predecessor, season 2 is fraught with emotionally gruelling scenes for both actresses. “I feel like Nicole’s work is so emotionally powerful that she just pulls you in. And a lot of times, I’ve said to her, ‘Are you OK?’ Because I’ve wondered if she’s going to be able to shake it off,” says Witherspoon.
The first season, which featured Kidman as an abused wife, “was very difficult for Nicole”, says Witherspoon.
“There was so much violence, and she would perform it and really be in it. It was hard. So, it was nice to see her not have to deal with that so frequently in season 2.”
Witherspoon epitomises the woman who “has it all”. She has the Midas touch when it comes to her professional life and an eight-year marriage to talent agent Jim Toth, with whom she has a six-year-old son, Tennessee. She also has two kids from her previous marriage to Ryan Phillippe — her lookalike daughter, Ava, 19, and a son, Deacon, 15.
How does she define success?
“I think success is setting a goal or an intention and working toward accomplishing it. So, I try to set goals for myself. I wanted to start a company (Type A Films) that created films for women, that had women starring in them, so I did that. Then I started a company (Pacific Standard, with Bruna Papandrea) that was more about storytelling for all people who didn’t get their stories told.
“These days, I’m really interested in educating women about finances. That’s a real passion for me because I know a lot of women who’ve been financially damaged by bad marriages or bad family dynamics. I’ve had my own history with financial experiences, good and bad, and I feel like we could do more for women — and young women in particular — to teach them about how to make money.
“It’s OK for women to talk about money. I don’t think we talk enough about the importance of making money, saving money, having equal pay. Those are issues I’m very passionate about.”
Now that we’re in the middle of Big Little Lies 2, what can she tell us about the finale?
“Well, I can’t wait for people to see it because I think it will be a conversation starter. People will be talking about it, for sure.” She grins. “It definitely ends with a bang.”