When it comes to putting women at the forefront in TV and film, Reese Witherspoon is showing Hollywood how it’s done. She tells Gemma Dunn why she decided to create her own opportunities.
When Reese Witherspoon and her Big Little Lies co-stars took to the stage at this year’s Emmy Awards, they were met with rapturous applause.
Hand in hand, the five stars – an indomitable tribe made up of Nicole Kidman, Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley, no less – were proof the tide is turning in Hollywood, as the 69th ceremony became historic for its celebration of women in front of and behind the camera.
The irresistible HBO show – based on the book by Australian author Liane Moriarty – had cleaned up, winning eight major awards including Outstanding Limited Series.
“It’s been an incredible year for women in television,” declared Witherspoon, (41), as she accepted the latter alongside her cast mate and co-producer Kidman.
“Can I just say, bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories.”
Gripping the star’s hand, Kidman, who also took home best actress, added: “This is a friendship that then created opportunities. It created opportunities out of our frustration because we weren’t getting offered great roles, so now more great roles for women, please.”
Delivering a message that’s hard to ignore, I’m not at all surprised to find Witherspoon – an Academy Award winner in her own right – still processing the night’s events four days later.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been a really interesting time,” quips the Walk the Line actress, sipping tea from a dainty china cup in a London hotel. “I’d never gone to the Emmys before, so it was really fun. (There are) so many talented women: Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Oprah …
“(We’ve been) getting so many well-wishes”, continues the Louisiana-born star. “People are really responding to how many women won.”
Is she seeing a change in the scripts she’s being offered, then?
“Nope”, she fires back, exasperated. “That’s why I’m buying books and turning them into movies, because the scripts are dreadful”, she reasons, having headed up such novel-to-screen adaptations as Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, under her production banner Pacific Standard.
“Honestly, the things that come at me normally are just dreadful and it’s a huge industry.”
She follows: “I think when you’re trying to establish yourself, you take a lot of projects that maybe aren’t, you know, expressive of who you are as an artist or what you want to accomplish, but certainly as you get older you think, ‘Why am I doing this?'”
It goes without saying, then, Witherspoon’s resume has done a 180 since her breakthrough role playing blonde sorority girl Elle Woods in the 2001 classic Legally Blonde.
But while her latest outing might look like it affords the same rom-com tropes – Home Again is, in fact, very different.
For starters, the movie boasts two brilliant filmmakers: legendary producer Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, It’s Complicated) and her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who will make her directorial debut.
Secondly, it’s a contemporary title that challenges the standard definitions of family, as in between love, friendship and family, it offers a life lesson that starting over is not for beginners.
That teaching comes in the form of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a 40-year-old who has recently separated from her husband (Michael Sheen) and therefore decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters. It’s there she comes across three young filmmakers and, having agreed to a temporary living arrangement, finds her newfound life unfolding in unexpected ways.
For Witherspoon, it was refreshing to explore the truth of divorce, as opposed to a traditional love story.
“(To) have a woman separated in the very beginning of the film is a very modern concept”, she says of Home Again, admitting she was keen to explore the notion that decisions you make at 25 don’t necessarily suit your life further down the line.
“I loved the script. I think so many people can relate to the journey of getting divorced and not knowing what’s next,” she adds. “People are going through that more and more, so it’s nice to see reality reflected on film.”
Restating her support for ‘dynamic’ women steering the ship, she states: “It’s great to have a female director and a female producer (too).
“They really see romance in a different kind of way and it’s definitely through their lens that you see a romance between an older woman and a younger man …”
But she’s quick to point out it goes far beyond mother-daughter bonding.
“It’s been really fun to see Hallie and Nancy’s dynamic and how they speak the same language,” Witherspoon enthuses. “They think the same ways about comedy and character.
“It’s nice for me to be around so many female filmmakers,” she says. “It’s important that we have female voices in film and I think Hallie is going to be a great new voice.”
But ultimately, she insists, it’s about updating the age-old rom com: “Audiences are ready for something a little more modern.”
A mother to three children, Witherspoon – who shares a son and daughter with her ex-husband, actor Ryan Phillippe, and a young son with her second husband, talent agent Tim Roth – is ever conscious of setting a fine example to her brood. In particular, her lookalike daughter Ava, who she took as her plus-one to this year’s Emmys.
“I look forward to the day when she gets to be the boss”, Witherspoon says of the 18-year-old. “I will be like happy; I’m like ‘Youuu take the responsibility'” she adds, her southern twang in full force.
“It’s shifted definitely to, ‘Wow, look at what my mother and these other women are accomplishing and I am so proud of them'”, she concludes, smiling. “She is learning a lot from these incredible women that I get to spend time with – it’s the dream.”
- Home Again is in cinemas province wide
Academy Adds ‘Popular Film’ Category to Oscars
(CNN)Could this be “Black Panther’s” big chance?
Last year’s best picture winner, “The Shape of Water,” earned $63 million domestically and topped out at No. 10 in box office rankings during its time in theaters, according to figures from Box Office Mojo.
The Academy’s motivation for extending honors to so-called popular films is a hope that the new award will help attract viewers. The most-watched telecast in Oscars history was in 1998 when “Titanic” won.
Last year’s telecast hit an all-time low in ratings with just 26.5 million viewers, a drop of 20% from the previous year.
Robert Redford Confirms Retirement from Acting
The Old Man & the Gun will feature the stars final big-screen role after a 60-year career but he may carry on directing
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Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Redford, 81, said: Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting, and [Ill] move towards retirement after this cause Ive been doing it since I was 21. I thought, Well, thats enough. And why not go out with something thats very upbeat and positive?
In 2016 Redford had suggested he had two more acting roles in the works, after which he would quit. Our Souls at Night, a romance in which he starred opposite Jane Fonda, was released on Netflix in September 2017, while The Old Man & the Gun, a crime comedy directed by A Ghost Storys David Lowery, in which Redford plays career criminal and veteran escape artist Forrest Tucker, is due for release in September after a premiere at the Toronto film festival.
Redford has been acting since 1960, when he appeared in a string of TV shows and gained a small role in basketball drama Tall Story. His profile steadily increased through the decade in films such as The Chase and Barefoot in the Park, before scoring a huge hit opposite Paul Newman in 1969s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. His second collaboration with Newman, 1973s The Sting, remains his biggest box-office success, and brought his only Oscar nomination for acting to date. (He lost to Jack Lemmon for Save the Tiger.) He was given an honorary Oscar in 2001.
Jordan Peele’s new film now has a full cast and release date and it’s time to get excited
Jordan Peele’s new film is well underway.
Splendid news, Peele fans: we now have even more information about the Get Out director’s upcoming new film, Us.
Specifically, a cast and an exact release date. We already knew that Lupita Nyong’o and Elizabeth Moss were likely to be involved, but now we have a full run-down of all the main stars.
The people in that tweet from left to right, starting in the top left, are: Jordan Peele; Lupita Nyong’o; Winston Duke; Elizabeth Moss; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II; Anna Diop; Tim Heidecker; Shahadi Wright Joseph; Evan Alex; and twins Cali and Noelle Sheldon (who, it turns out, both played Ross and Rachel’s baby, Emma, in Friends back in the day).
Peele has since retweeted a Hollywood Reporter article about the news, which means we can be pretty sure it’s all real and confirmed.
Wright, who is voicing Young Nala in the upcoming live action Lion King adaptation, also tweeted about it.
Peele shared an eerie poster for the film back in May, which slated a March 2019 release date.
According to both The Hollywood Reporter, the exact date it hits cinemas will now be 15 March.
Time to start getting excited.
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