Reese Witherspoon: From “blonde” to Hollywood’s tough dog
US actress Reese Witherspoon has a lot of power in the film industry. She uses them – to stand up against inequality.
Berlin. At the beginning of the millennium, the world laughed at “chicks”: blond, uneducated, but smart as a farmer, “it girls” like Paris Hilton stumble through their lives, handbag in one hand, bonsai dog in the other. Reese Witherspoon plays the cinema version in “Naturally Blond”. Her film character Elle then managed to get through to the elite Harvard University.
It is the role that makes her a star and that also anticipates her own path: Because it was a must to underestimate her failure. “I was too friendly, too loud, too optimistic, too emotional,” says the 1.65-meter woman in retrospect. She had “endured a lot of really nasty conversations and dire situations” to get to where she was now.
Where the mother of three is now, 20 years later, nobody dares to come to her “disgusting” anymore. Witherspoon is one of the 100 most powerful women in the world according to Forbes 2019 list. Her mission in Hollywood: turn the whole place upside down.
Not just as an actress, but as an entrepreneur, producer, director. She wanted to “finally make women the heroines of their own stories”.
“Little Fires Everywhere” is Witherspoon’s new hit series
Just started at Amazon Prime: “Little Fires Everywhere“- Reese Witherspoon turned Celeste Ng’s bestseller novel into a series with her production company“ Hello Sunshine ”. The boss herself shines as a self-righteous suburban mother who is blind to her own privileges. For the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” it is the series of the hour because it targets “unreflected racism”.
Given the current debate on racism after the death of the African American George Floyd the eight-piece comes at the right time.
The 44-year-old, no question about it, enjoys all the privileges of the industry as a white and ideally beautiful woman. In 2005 she even got the Oscar for her role as Johnny Cash’s wife June in “Walk The Line“. But early on she begins to question the system that apparently means it so well by her. “I’ve been on film sets since I was 14 years old,” she says in an interview with the “Südkurier”. “And it was not uncommon for me to be the only woman there.”
When she was 25, she made her first film in which women also worked behind the camera. That doesn’t make it clear to her: “The argument against a woman is almost always: she doesn’t have one experience. But how is she supposed to get it if nobody gives her a chance? “
Witherspoon’s company is a platform for women
At some point she also refuses to answer questions about her clothes on the red carpet and denounces that despite an annual earnings of up to 25 million dollars Hollywood men still get a few billion more for the same work and the same market value. In 2012 she took matters into her own hands and founded her production company.
With the thriller “Gone girl“She will soon have the big hit. Her company mainly filmed novels by women in which women play the leading roles – and they are not victims, not decorative accessories, but neither are superheroes or vamps. As in her drama series “Big Little Lies”, which was awarded with eight Emmys, about five mothers in a small Californian town: They are women with strong characters – and with dark sides.
But her company not only adapts books, it also provides them with a platform. Since 2017 there has been “Reese’s Book Club“. “Our goal is to build the most important book club for women,” says managing director Sarah Harden of the DWDL portal. “Of the 30 titles that we have selected so far, 23 have made it onto the bestseller list. Reese reads and recommends everything personally. “
Despite its multi-function, Witherspoon still prepares itself precisely for every job in front of the camera. For “Big Little Lies“For example, she learned to play the piano extra. “Unlike many of her male colleagues, she approached the matter with pleasure and ease,” says her piano teacher Nadja Danciger. “She was absolutely fearless. She said she had always wanted to learn the piano and was happy about the chance. “
She was never dogged. But persevere. “Fortunately, I’m a tough dog,” Witherspoon says of himself.