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Sue Enquist led UCLA to 10 national titles during her legendary 27-year softball coaching career, but it is her recent tutelage of Oscar-winning actor Reese Witherspoon that has earned her a spot on the red carpet. Enquist, 53, trained Witherspoon for her role as a former softball star in the film “How Do You Know,” which opens in theaters Friday. Abigail Lorge caught up with Enquist, an espnW advisory panel member, to chat about coaching an A-lister.
Abigail Lorge: How did your involvement with this movie come about?
Sue Enquist: I’ve been involved from the inception. Jim [James L. Brooks, the film's writer and director] was doing the research for the movie about six years ago, and he went to a number of different sports to gather a patchwork of stories about getting cut from a team not on your own terms. And then, about two years ago, he made the decision that this character was going to be a former pro softball player.
AL: When were you first introduced to Reese? And when you met her, did you think she could look the part, given how petite she is?
SE: I was introduced to her in the fall of 2009, when Jim wanted me to teach her what it feels like to train at the highest level and, more importantly, to give her an idea of what it means to be a champion athlete in and around other champions in a team environment. As Reese says, “Acting’s an individual sport, and I learned how to be a team player.” And so in the fall of 2009 I went to the studio to meet her for the first time because the studio wanted, and Reese wanted, to make sure there was a connection there.
Reese Witherspoon claims to have discovered at least one segment of the female population that is not inclined to talk about feelings.
Those would be female athletes.
In James Brooks’ romantic comedy How Do You Know, Witherspoon plays Elise, an Olympic veteran softball player who’s finally “past it” at age 31 and cut from the team. In her adrift state, she has to sort out her feelings about the two men in her life — philandering Major League pitcher Matty (Owen Wilson) and nice guy businessman Frank (Paul Rudd) facing federal fraud charges on behalf of his less-than-ethical father (Jack Nicholson).
“I’ve done a lot of comedies where a woman talks a lot about her romantic dynamics and is always kind of talking about men, and, like, ‘What should I do?’ ” she says.
Then she started meeting actual softball champs, including Sue Enquist, who has coached UCLA to 11 national championships. “Jim had done a lot of legwork meeting all these female athletes (as he was writing the script),”
Witherspoon says. “And really, they talked about very little other than the game. They never talked about their relationships. I was always trying to get more out of them, and it was really hard.”
In How Do You Know, Reese Witherspoon plays a woman unlike any other character she’s portrayed. “My characters are usually very vocal. She was more interior,” Witherspoon said.
In writer-director James L. Brooks’ [Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets] new romantic comedy — starring Jack Nicholson, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson — Reese Witherspoon portrays a champion softball player who is facing the possibility of being let go by the U.S. Olympic softball team because she is 31 years old.
Although her character is nowhere near ready to settle down, Witherspoon admitted to us that that aspect was part of the challenge as she is raising two children and also in a serious relationship.
Her How Do You Know character required not only training with the U.S. softball team, but also getting into the mindset of an athlete, one she compared to young actresses in Hollywood.
“I found it really interesting in that there’s a parallel to being an actor, especially as a woman. You get the feeling sometimes your clock is ticking,” Witherspoon said. “You can only hope to have the career of a Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton.”
If winning an Oscar for Walk the Line and the astounding body of work she has produced is any indication, we don’t think Reese Witherspoon has anything to worry about in terms of Hollywood longevity. She’s already well on her way to being the next Streep or Keaton.
As you might know, today is the day Reese’s new movie How Do You Know opens in US cinemas! It’s been a whole 2 years since we last saw Reese herself on the big screen, so it’s an exciting day for Reese fans. In the movie Ms Witherspoon plays Lisa, a professional softball player who has to decide between the two men in her life and what she wants to do with her life next. It sounds like a more grown-up romantic comedy from Reese, but is still sure to show off her usual charm.
Lisa’s athletic ability is the defining passion of her life, having been her focus since early childhood. When she is cut from her team, everything she has ever known is suddenly taken from her. George is a straight-arrow businessman who is accused of a financial crime, even though he’s done nothing wrong. Although he may be headed to jail, George’s honesty, integrity, and unceasing optimism may be his only path to keeping his sanity. George and Lisa meet on the worst day of each of their lives: she has just been cut, and he has just been served. When everything else seems to be falling apart, they will discover what it means to have something wonderful happen.
Visit the official site at www.howdoyouknow-movie.com. If you go and see the movie be sure to drop back in here and let us know what you thought of it!
To celebrate the US release, we have some gorgeous shiny new stills from How Do You Know in the Gallery.
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson on “How Do You Know”
James L. Brooks has the best laugh in the business.
It sounds fake, like he’s actually pronouncing every “Ha Ha Ha.” But it’s so hearty and infectious, it has to be genuine. Even when several people are laughing at once, its Brooks’ chuckle that rises above the fray.
And there was a good amount of laughter from the press corps and the celebrities being interviewed during a recent New York event for Brooks’ latest, “How Do You Know.” The cast – which includes Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn and Jack Nicholson – accompanied their director to Manhattan to meet with gathered journalists and discuss Brooks’ latest romantic comedy.
The first question was a true softball, even for a film about a softball player (Witherspoon) who is between athletic gigs and committed boyfriends. One female journalist asked the celebrity panel how they’re supposed to know when they’re in love.
“It has been too long ago for me to remember,” Nicholson chimed in, breaking up the panel and the room.
Brooks took the question a little more seriously. “I had a line that I believed so much in that I threw it in, but I eventually took it out of the movie. Paul was going to say that it’s when you are more yourself then you ever thought possible.”
Softball Know-How Takes Four Former Ivy Leaguers To The Silver Screen
In James L. Brooks’ latest movie, “How Do You Know,” Reese Witherspoon stars as a former professional softball player named Lisa Jorgenson, who is caught up in a love triangle of sorts with George (Paul Rudd) and Matty (Owen Wilson). Romantic comedy ensues, as you may expect from a James L. Brooks film.
But what you may not have expected is that five people with Ivy League softball ties were a part of the filmmaking process, including former Penn Quakers Christina Khosravi ’08 and Kaelin Ainley ’07, one-time Princeton Tiger Kathryn Welch ’09, as well as former Columbia Lion Keli Leong ’09. Also taking part was current Harvard assistant coach Carri Leto Martin.
The quartet of former Ivy League players combined for 11 All-Ivy honors in their careers, including five All-Ivy First Team nods, so it is easy to envision how they could be useful when filming a softball scene or two.
In fact, Khosravi was named the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2006, while Welch earned Rookie of the Year honors. Khosravi went on to earn Co-Player of the Year honors in 2008 and remains one of just five Ivy softball players to have earned multiple Ivy League Player of the Year honors.
“To see that woman’s softball is getting the recognition it deserves is a testament to how hard both former and current players are working in building the image of not only softball but woman’s sports as a whole,” Khosravi stated. “It was awesome to see the time and effort it takes to film just a 30-second scene, to be on set with the director and to hear how direction is given and taken.”
‘How Do You Know’ Star Reese Witherspoon Recalls Softball ‘Crash Course’ ‘I’m not a ringer or anything,’ she tells MTV News of her newfound skills.
Because director James L. Brooks has only made six films in his career, most actors jump at the chance to work with him — as was the case when Brooks approached Reese Witherspoon for a role in the upcoming romantic comedy “How Do You Know.”
“[It was] incredibly flattering and terrifying at the same time,” Witherspoon told MTV News recently regarding her reaction to Brooks’ initial interest. “When he called me, I was like, ‘He wants to meet me? And do what?’ We sat down, and he said, ‘I want to write this character, and I want you to play it.’ And I was like, ‘Great!’ And he said, ‘I want you to be a professional softball player. Do you play softball?’
” ‘Yes, of course I do!’ ” Witherspoon recalled responding — but she admitted to MTV News in a whisper: “No, I don’t play softball. But I learned. I did a crash course with the UCLA Bruins, and they taught me. Three hours a day for four months. They really helped.”
Given the fact that there’s not much of Witherspoon’s character playing softball in the film, we wondered what motivated her to commit to such extensive training.