Reese Witherspoon plays against type
There’s a moment in her new romantic comedy, How Do You Know, when Reese Witherspoon makes an unusual request of Owen Wilson.
He’s her unreliable boyfriend Matty – a major-league pitcher who can’t resist the lure of other females. She plays Lisa, a young woman whose entire life has revolved around softball and who can’t cope emotionally when she’s dropped from her team.
So along comes this crucial moment when Lisa says to Matty: “If I wake up in the middle of the night and start crying, just ignore me, please.” Witherspoon cites this speech as an example of something she herself would never say in real life.
“I usually play really verbal characters, and this woman is sort of more interior,” Witherspoon points out.
That made Lisa a fascinating challenge, because Witherspoon couldn’t really draw on her own life experiences to portray her.
“I’ve done a lot of comedies where a woman talks about her romantic dynamics and is always kind of talking about men and what she should do. But this is a woman who has a hard time conveying her emotions and doesn’t even really want to talk about things -which is sort of an interesting female character.”
In the film, which opens Dec. 17, Lisa thinks her whole life is slipping away because, at 31, she’s been cut from her team. Because she’s uneasy talking about feelings, she feels emotionally isolated. Furthermore, her romantic life is in turmoil because of Matty’s irresponsibility and the unexpected intrusion into her world of another male. This is George (Paul Rudd), whose own life is falling apart because he’s the target of a federal investigation into high-stakes financial crimes.
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.
This week’s The Hollywood Reporter looks at the James L. Brooks dramedy featuring Reese Witherspoon ($15 million) and Jack Nicholson ($12 million).
Oscar-winning filmmaker James L. Brooks doesn’t work often, and he doesn’t work fast. And when he does work, he commands a budget as jaw-dropping as his history of brilliant work (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News). When many studios are shying away from star-driven adult dramedies, Sony lavished a budget on Brooks’ How Do You Know that even has talent reps with clients in the movie marveling.
THR has learned that the film, which centers on a love triangle, cost $120 million to make, though the studio drove that down to about $100 million thanks to tax rebates from Pennsylvania and D.C. One reason for the price tag is old-fashioned salaries for the pic’s talent: Reese Witherspoon ($15 million), Jack Nicholson ($12 million), Owen Wilson ($10 million) and Paul Rudd ($3 million) received their quotes, and Brooks will earn about $10 million plus backend for writing, producing and directing. That’s about $50 million for the major talent alone.
The cost also was high because of the time Brooks devoted to production and postproduction and his decision to reshoot the beginning and end of the movie. “He’s slow and meticulous,” a person familiar with the production says.
Another challenge: How Do You Know opens Dec. 17 against Tron: Legacy, Gulliver’s Travels and Yogi Bear. “That’s a big weekend,” sighs a talent rep with a star in the film, which could have the slow-but-steady adult space to itself. Brooks’ 1997 holiday release As Good as It Gets rode Oscar buzz to $314.2 million worldwide, but his most recent December effort, 2004’s Spanglish, fizzled. “They thought it would do a couple hundred million worldwide,” a source says. “It did $55 million all-in.”
But Sony hopes How Do You Know will perform like It’s Complicated, an $85 million-budgeted Universal pic from Nancy Meyers.That film pulled in nearly $220 million worldwide last winter.
It’s too bad Paul Rudd is married (for multiple reason) because if he had needed a best man in his wedding it sounds like President Barack Obama would be more than happy to step in!
While Paul was filming How Do You Know with Reese Witherspoon in Washington D.C., the co-stars were able to get a private tour of the White House.
As part of Entertainment Weekly’s cover story, Reese recalls what happened while they were on their tour.
“While we were getting a tour, we got a message from the Oval Office that Obama wanted to say hi to us,” she begins the story.
“We went to the Oval Office, and there was Hillary Clinton having a meeting with Joe Biden. It was insane,” she says. “Then Obama came out and he turned to Paul and said, ‘I loved you in I Love You, Man.’ ”
“I grabbed Paul and I was like, ‘Are you freaking out right now?’ ” she remembers. “He’s like, ‘I’m freaking out!’ We were so tongue-tied it was ridiculous.”
“Obama was like, ‘What are you guys doing in town?’ I started talking about the movie and I was like, ‘We’re doing a movie and… uh, I’m playing a character, who, uh…I’m working with Owen, uh…Owen…’ I could not remember Owen’s last name,” Reese explains.
“And Paul goes, ‘Wilson!’ Like it was a party game.”
Reese Witherspoon has revealed that she took a break from acting for close to two years because she was unsatisfied with her career path.
Speaking to EW, Witherspoon insisted that for a time she was disinterested in the projects that she was being offered.
“I just didn’t read anything I liked,” she said.
The BAFTA winner also explained that there are now fewer quality roles offered to women of her age.
She noted: “There are a lot of really, really, really big movies about robots and things – and there’s not a part for a 34-year-old woman in a robot movie.”
Witherspoon returns to the big screen with How Do You Know, which is released on December 17 in US cinemas and January 28 in the UK.
Reese Witherspoon broke down in tears on the set of upcoming movie “This Means War” when she was shown playback footage of her performance, because she found her acting “horrifying.”
The “Legally Blonde” star admits she struggles to watch herself onscreen and rarely ever revisits her projects once filming wraps – but she made a fool of herself in front of director McG after he called her over in between takes to review certain scenes.
She tells Entertainment Weekly, “I can’t even watch playback of myself on a movie. McG was showing me some footage of ‘This Means War,’ and I just went apoplectic. I couldn’t talk, I started to cry.
“I don’t watch any movie I’m in. What’s enjoyable about that? It’s horrifying! I’ll see it in a dark room one time with my managers, who I’ve been with for 18 years, and we’ll talk about it for 10 minutes afterwards – and that’s it…”
And Witherspoon blames her insecurities for her refusal to watch her own takes: “I’ll just focus on something stupid, like, ‘I hate my laugh. Why did I smile?’ Sometimes I look at myself and think, ‘Dude, I have the biggest, goofiest smile on earth.’”
Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon is not keen to star in science fiction movies as the genre does not offer substantial roles to female leads.
“The movies that are being made feel different. There are a lot of really, really big movies about robots and things – and there”s not a part for a 34-year-old woman in a robot movie,” said Witherspoon.
The ”Legally Blonde” star feels the futuristic films are limited to ”superhero” roles and therefore, does not interest her, Contactmusic reported.
“I”ve never done the superhero movie. That doesn”t interest me too much.”
Drastic change in the film industry has made the actress selective about her work, and when she is not doing a film her daughter Ava and son Deacon keep her busy.
“I also have kids, so when I”m not working, it”s not like I”m sitting around doing nothing. I”m taking care of two kids who are rapidly growing up in some bizarre time warp. I mean, somehow I now have an 11 year old!” said Witherspoon.
Reese Witherspoon says “chasing boys” is good fun, especially when you’re young.
The 34-year-old actress has previously romanced film star Jake Gyllenhaal and was married to actor Ryan Phillippe with whom she has two children; Ava, 11, and Deacon, seven.
Reese is currently dating Hollywood agent Jim Toth, and admits she has become wiser about romance as she has grown older. The beauty thinks flirting and pursuing potential suitors can be really enjoyable, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously during a person’s young, free and single days.
“Because boy is it fun, chasing boys – especially when you’re young,” she laughed.
Reese recalled a moment when one of her pals explained to her how essential it is to realise when a man is attracted to you. The friend warned Reese it’s far more important to consider men who are chasing you, rather than wasting efforts on those who aren’t interested.
“You know, don’t follow the guy you’re chasing, look at the guy who’s chasing you. I think that takes time, and sort of life experience to notice,” explained Reese.