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Interview: Reese Witherspoon
The bright-eyed starlet talks about her new film and playing June Carter Cash.

Reese Witherspoon can work a room. That is not to say that there is anything disingenuous about her. It may all be an act, but she’s a pretty good actress, so I’m sold. Meeting a room full of press in Los Angeles, the young Witherspoon smiles naturally, treating the group like a roomful of old friends.

Overflowing with personality, her southern twang adds an extra charm to a smile and bounciness you can’t help but fall for. We in the media have come to expect nice treatment even when we may be despised behind closed doors. Somehow, this doesn’t seem like an act with Reese. She approaches the promotional task with the same tenacity and constant energy with which she does each of her roles.

Reese Witherspoon is a born star.

“You see, you can’t interfere with destiny. That’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s going to happen anyway, and you’ll just suffer,” Witherspoon’s Election alter-ego, Tracy Flick, might say when asked about her success. Of course, Reese would surely say it nicer.

She returns to the romantic comedy with her latest work, Just Like Heaven, which finds her (or her spirit at least) starring opposite Mark Ruffalo in a, shall we say, complicated romance.

David Abbott (Ruffalo) is a lonesome architect who moves into a trendy San Fran apartment to find he has an unexpected roommate. The spirit of the previous owner, Elizabeth Masterson (Witherspoon) is still lurking around. She’s not too fond of David’s cleanliness (or lack of) and he’s not too fond of being haunted. They learn to accept each other for the time being as a host of unexpected turns take their relationship in a new direction.

IGN FilmForce spoke with Reese in Los Angeles recently about her work on the film as well as her highly anticipated portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line later this year.

Legally Blonde was the first big hit for Reese Witherspoon, but it was Sweet Home Alabama that cemented her status as one of the top draws of Hollywood. After those box office sucesses, Reese was flooded with romantic comedy offers, so sifting through to find a good one is a challenge. “This one just had a really nice spiritual message about how important it is to nurture yourself. I think women are natural caretakers. They take care of everybody. They take care of their husbands and their kids and their dogs, and don’t spend a lot of time just getting back and taking time out. So I like that quality and I like that sort of Wonderful Life quality where she gets to see her life for what it was and go back and have another opportunity.”

“I think the second chance element was what really interested me about it and the idea of what happens when you don’t nurture your spirit, could it leave you? It’s fun to do a comedy and hook people in and then hoodwink them into watching a serious movie. I like to lead in with the comedy and then hit them over the head with a drama.”

Elizabeth is a very career-driven character, something that the actress said she could relate to. “I think she spends a lot of time at the hospital and I certainly had moments in my life where it felt like I was working all the live long day and what on earth was I doing? But that’s why it’s important to take breaks and get some perspective, sit on the rug with the dog and the kids and just not do anything, which is what I’ve been doing for the past three months and finally getting used to it a little bit. It took me three months to calm down”.

Reese Witherspoon / 15 Sep 2005
Interview: Reese Witherspoon
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The bright-eyed starlet talks about her new film and playing June Carter Cash.

By Jeff Otto Reese Witherspoon can work a room. That is not to say that there is anything disingenuous about her. It may all be an act, but she’s a pretty good actress, so I’m sold. Meeting a room full of press in Los Angeles, the young Witherspoon smiles naturally, treating the group like a roomful of old friends.

Overflowing with personality, her southern twang adds an extra charm to a smile and bounciness you can’t help but fall for. We in the media have come to expect nice treatment even when we may be despised behind closed doors. Somehow, this doesn’t seem like an act with Reese. She approaches the promotional task with the same tenacity and constant energy with which she does each of her roles.

Reese Witherspoon is a born star.

“You see, you can’t interfere with destiny. That’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s going to happen anyway, and you’ll just suffer,” Witherspoon’s Election alter-ego, Tracy Flick, might say when asked about her success. Of course, Reese would surely say it nicer.

She returns to the romantic comedy with her latest work, Just Like Heaven, which finds her (or her spirit at least) starring opposite Mark Ruffalo in a, shall we say, complicated romance.

David Abbott (Ruffalo) is a lonesome architect who moves into a trendy San Fran apartment to find he has an unexpected roommate. The spirit of the previous owner, Elizabeth Masterson (Witherspoon) is still lurking around. She’s not too fond of David’s cleanliness (or lack of) and he’s not too fond of being haunted. They learn to accept each other for the time being as a host of unexpected turns take their relationship in a new direction.

IGN FilmForce spoke with Reese in Los Angeles recently about her work on the film as well as her highly anticipated portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line later this year.

Legally Blonde was the first big hit for Reese Witherspoon, but it was Sweet Home Alabama that cemented her status as one of the top draws of Hollywood. After those box office sucesses, Reese was flooded with romantic comedy offers, so sifting through to find a good one is a challenge. “This one just had a really nice spiritual message about how important it is to nurture yourself. I think women are natural caretakers. They take care of everybody. They take care of their husbands and their kids and their dogs, and don’t spend a lot of time just getting back and taking time out. So I like that quality and I like that sort of Wonderful Life quality where she gets to see her life for what it was and go back and have another opportunity.”

Reese in Just Like Heaven

“I think the second chance element was what really interested me about it and the idea of what happens when you don’t nurture your spirit, could it leave you? It’s fun to do a comedy and hook people in and then hoodwink them into watching a serious movie. I like to lead in with the comedy and then hit them over the head with a drama.”

Elizabeth is a very career-driven character, something that the actress said she could relate to. “I think she spends a lot of time at the hospital and I certainly had moments in my life where it felt like I was working all the live long day and what on earth was I doing? But that’s why it’s important to take breaks and get some perspective, sit on the rug with the dog and the kids and just not do anything, which is what I’ve been doing for the past three months and finally getting used to it a little bit. It took me three months to calm down”.

After working primarily on the indie scene, Mark Ruffalo is finding new success in the romantic comedy genre. “I think we had a really good time in the movie,” Reese says of her co-star. “We have a very similar sensibility. We’re both very family oriented. We take our work very seriously. I really like the idea that Mark appeals to so many people because he just is who he is. He’s not posturing or trying to look pretty or have great hair. He’s just a real man and he’s funny. There’s a lot of actors nowadays, American actors that don’t think funny is cool, so it’s nice to see someone of his caliber doing comedy. I think he’s going to really excel when people see this film.”

Her character in the film is a bit overbearing at times, particularly when it comes to cleanliness. She admits this hit home a bit. “I have a bit of the table ring thing as well. It really bothers me. I just admit it. It really bothers me when people don’t use coasters. Particularly on my table. And every time I come home from a trip and [her husband, Ryan Phillippe] stays home, there’s somehow a mysterious stain in the oddest shape, like squares on the table. What did you just like cook a chicken and put the whole pan on the kitchen table? Yeah, that kind of bugs me a little bit”.

Reese Witherspoon recently took on one of the most challenging roles of her career, as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. The film is already generating Oscar buzz, particularly for her performance. “You know, I just take it as it comes. I just want people to see the movie first of all. It hasn’t even come out. It’s just exciting. I just have to focus on what’s right in front of me, so for me right now, I’m just trying to get this movie opened. Then it will be on to the next. It’s very flattering”.

Carter Cash was such a unique persona with a unique voice that is difficult to replicate. “[It was] nearly impossible, so I just tried to be the best version of what I could be, because it was impossible to emulate her and I’m sure on Joaquin’s part, it was pretty difficult to emulate Johnny Cash. But we trained for five and a half months and learned to play instruments, record an album and worked six or seven hours every day for five months on it. So you can’t say we didn’t try.

“We worked a lot on what was that moment. She has I think a really great moment in the film where she talks about the greatest moment of her life was when she failed the most. That was something that the director and I worked on in the middle of the filmmaking because it just didn’t ring true to me. It was always about these wonderful moments and she was so wistful about her life. I like the idea of a moment lost is a moment that she didn’t appreciate and it was about her missteps, not her accomplishments.

“Coming from Nashville I knew a lot about the Carter family, which is sort of the foremost family of country music. They wrote down a lot of the country songs that were being sung in the backwoods and they put ’em on paper. So she had a long heritage of, just being sort of the spokesperson for country music and the face of country music. But it was so fun, I got to watch all these different videos and, and, ah, listen to so much music and tapes of her talking and telling stories… it was very daunting. I was very nervous but I sat down with a couple of her children and just said I want you to know that I’m just trying my best to honor your mother… That really helps because they…were really helpful and supportive. Yeah, it was a lot of work. It was a lot of work.”

The romantic aspect of the June and Johnny’s relationships is a major focus of the film as well. Their relationship, like their music, was anything but ordinary. “They were just people who were deeply in love with each other but couldn’t be together because he was married or she was married and they didn’t think it was appropriate. So, you know, it took a long time but they were finally able to be together”.

Star status has also introduced Mrs. Witherspoon to the inevitable pitfalls of stardom, such as overly aggressive paparazzi. “I had an incident where they ran me off the road and hit my car, and they’ve subsequently paid for it and there was damage to my vehicle. Myself and some of my colleagues have gotten together because there was, you know, I want to say that I completely believe in the First Amendment. There is a right to free speech, I completely understand what their job is, they have a right to take pictures of public figures, but illegal behavior is not acceptable, and that’s why myself and some of my colleagues have gotten together to talk to law enforcement in Los Angeles. And, I think it has made some change definitely. I hope that made an impact within that certain community that it’s not okay to do illegal things – you’re not going to get away with it”.

Comparisons are already being drawn between Reese and names like Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. Reese was asked whether she feels a pressure to live up to those high expectations. “Oh gosh, that’s a big question. It’s just flattering that people are interested in the films you make. Some of the greatest experiences I have are with fans. It’s never about me in those moments. It’s always about them and about the amazing experience they had or the wonderful story they want to tell me about the dinner they had last night or how their cousin knows my sister’s brother. I’m really still contemplating what does it mean to be in this position. It’s got to be for a reason that I haven’t fully grasped yet. I’m still thinking about it a lot.”

Beyond beauty and talent, Reese also seems to have the brains to one day conquer the film industry in other ways, possibly behind the camera. “I would love to. I think it’s just a matter of time. It’s hard when I… you know, I have little kids to look after now, so I don’t have the time to concentrate. It’d be hard to focus, but probably when they get older I would really love to be able to write more and probably direct … maybe, maybe. I go back and forth. It seems like a lot of work.”







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Current Projects
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The Morning Show (2019)
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Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
Season 1 available now on Hulu/Prime Video
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Sing 2 (2020)
To be released December 22nd 2021
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