“ACT­ING IS MY PAS­SION, PRO­DUC­ING IS MY MIS­SION”

As the star of Nancy Mey­ers’ Home Again, if there’s a woman’s story to be told, Reese Wither­spoon is go­ing to tell it. Her com­mit­ment to film­mak­ing has made her an icon, on and off screen…

Red - - WOMEN IN FILM - Words SCAR­LETT RUS­SELL

Reese Wither­spoon is, it turns out, ex­actly as you’d want and imag­ine Reese Wither­spoon to be: bub­bly, chatty, friendly, funny; her Ten­nessee twang and LA en­thu­si­asm mak­ing me hang on her ev­ery word. And she’s on a roll. “When I think about Legally Blonde, where’s that girl? What’s the Elec­tion movie? Where’s Sweet Home Alabama? And all those San­dra Bul­lock movies, those Ju­lia Roberts movies. I loved those movies. I grew up on Goldie Hawn and Meg Ryan. I want girls to­day to grow up with char­ac­ters who are the he­roes of their own sto­ries. I want to see women who rep­re­sent my daugh­ter and her friends. Oh, hey, honey!” There are some muf­fled voices in the back­ground – Wither­spoon is call­ing me from her fam­ily va­ca­tion – and I’ve tem­po­rar­ily lost her at­ten­tion. We’ve been talk­ing for 20 min­utes al­ready, but I’ve barely asked any ques­tions. Turns out, when you get Wither­spoon on the sub­ject of women in film (or, rather, the lack of women in film), she needs no prompt­ing. “Sorry, honey,” she says, back to me now. “I’m sit­ting out­side a kids’ club and a fam­ily I know just walked past. What was I say­ing?

Oh, so it hasn’t been a great time for see­ing women star­ring in their own movies, es­pe­cially com­edy. You know?” I do know, but doesn’t she need to go? I am, af­ter all, in­ter­rupt­ing her hol­i­day. “Not at all!” comes the cheery re­sponse. Wither­spoon is equally keen to dis­cuss her lat­est project, Home Again. “I’ve been Nancy’s [Mey­ers] big­gest fan for the long­est time, and now she’s sup­port­ing Hal­lie. I loved the idea of us­ing all the years of ex­pe­ri­ence that Nancy and I have. I loved the idea of a group of women com­ing to­gether to help a woman. It was ex­cit­ing.”

Wither­spoon is one of the most prom­i­nent and vo­cal cham­pi­ons of women in Hol­ly­wood. At 41, her movie ca­reer spans al­most two decades and has re­sulted in 25 lead roles (Legally Blonde, Cruel In­ten­tions and Mud to name a few) and one Best Ac­tress Os­car (for Walk The

Line in 2006, though she was nom­i­nated in the same cat­e­gory for Wild in 2015). Her films have grossed over a bil­lion dol­lars in the box of­fice. In 2012, bored of read­ing the same old scripts about the same old male-led sto­ries, she set up her own pro­duc­tion com­pany, Pa­cific Stan­dard, mak­ing films by women, for women. It’s since pro­duced Wild, Gone Girl and Hot Pursuit and has dozens more in the pipeline. “Act­ing is my pas­sion, but pro­duc­ing is my mis­sion,” says Wither­spoon. “I hon­estly feel it’s my mis­sion to cre­ate more sto­ries and op­por­tu­ni­ties for women, be­cause I truly be­lieve that there aren’t enough. I feel very strongly about it.” As it was a pre­dom­i­nantly fe­male crew on Home Again, I won­der what it is about women that makes them work so well to­gether. Wither­spoon pauses for the first time in our in­ter­view. “That’s a good ques­tion,” she fi­nally says. “I think it’s be­cause there’s a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, there’s a great in­stinct about emo­tion and there’s an at­ten­tion to de­tail that I think is just quintessen­tially fem­i­nine.”

An­other of Wither­spoon’s productions was this year’s colos­sal HBO se­ries, Big Lit­tle Lies. Ni­cole Kid­man,

Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern and Shai­lene Wood­ley starred along­side her and it told grip­ping, twisted tales of fe­male

I loved the idea of a group of WOMEN com­ing TO­GETHER to help a woman. It was EX­CIT­ING

“I want girls to grow up with char­ac­ters who are the he­roes of their own sto­ries,” says Wither­spoon

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