What the Hell Happened to Reese Witherspoon?

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon started her career in independent films in the 1990s.  With the new millennium, she entered the mainstream.  For a while, she seemed like the heir apparent to Julia Roberts as the Queen of Rom Coms.  She scored an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance in Walk the Line in 2005.  Since then, she has had one live action box office hit, a handful of disappointments and an embarrassing arrest for disorderly conduct.

What the hell happened?

Reese Witherspoon - Man in the Moon - 1991

Reese Witherspoon – Man in the Moon – 1991

Witherspoon made her film debut in 1991 opposite Sam Waterston and Jason London in Robert Mulligan’s coming-of-age drama, The Man in the Moon.

Witherspoon played a head-strong 14-year-old girl (is there any other kind) who finds love with the guy from Dazed and Confused.  They meet during one of her nude moonlight swims in the neighbor’s pond.

Man in the Moon was one of those little films that didn’t get a wide release.  Director Robert Mulligan was upset with how airlines recut his movie for in-flight showings.  So he had his name removed from the credits.  He was so disturbed that he retired from film-making.  After more than three decades in the business, Man in the Moon was Mulligan’s final film.

Reviews were mostly positive.  Roger Ebert praised the film and named it as one of the 10 best of 1991:

“Nothing else [Mulligan] has done… approaches the purity and perfection of The Man in the Moon. As the film approached its conclusion without having stepped wrong once, I wondered whether he could do it – whether he could maintain the poetic, bittersweet tone, and avoid the sentimentalism and cheap emotion that could have destroyed this story. Would he maintain the integrity of this material? He would, and he does.”

Reese Witherspoon - Wildflower - 1991

Reese Witherspoon – Wildflower – 1991

Later that year, Witherspoon appeared opposite Beau Bridges and Patricia Arquette in the TV movie Wildflower.

Arquette played a partially deaf girl with epilepsy who is being kept by her abusive stepfather.  Witherspoon’s character befriends the poor girl and hopes to help her escape her stepfather’s brutality.  Diane Keaton directed.

As TV movies go, Wildflower was well-received.

Reese Witherspoon - Desperate Choices: To Save My Child - 1992

Reese Witherspoon – Desperate Choices: To Save My Child – 1992

In 1992, Witherspoon appeared in another TV drama, Desperate Choices: To Save My Child.

Her parents were played by Bruce Davison and Growing Pains’ Joanna Kerns.


Reese Witherspoon – A Far Off Place – 1993

In 1993, Witherspoon starred opposite Ethan Embry (credited as Ethan Randall) in the family adventure film, A Far Off Place.

Witherspoon and Embry played survivors of an attack by a gang of poachers.  They befriend an African bushman who helps them escape the poachers and travel to safety.

 Reviews were mostly negative and the movie was barely noticed at the box office.

Next: S.F.W. and Fear


Posted on August 10, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 140 Comments.

  1. Reese Witherspoon splits from producing partner Bruna Papandrea


  2. Are Reese Witherspoon’s days as a leading lady over?

    Well, outside of what she produced, she hasn’t lead a film since This Means War killed her status as a leading lady, and Hot Pursuit might have made things even worse for her. Mud, The Good Lie, and Inherent Vice were all supporting roles, two of them being cameos, and being part of an ensemble in Devil’s Knot. Now, she got cast in a small role in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time.


  3. Hey, it’s been 3 years since her arrest. I know it’s been a long time since but I was looking at the comments and I noticed you said how she may not have been sincere in her apologies but at least she made everyone else believe it. I kinda agree with you there. Both her written and TV apology sounded too calculated by checkmarking every box on how to do an apology for the press. She never seemed genuine in her television appearance.

    Not to mention displaying egotistical behavior before and after the arrest. I looked at her Instagram account and it reeks of self-absorption. It is a shame since she always seemed to be sweet but I guess she really is that good of an actress.

    I can’t get over her arrest video though. I know it’s been a long time but re-watching it here, I was disgusted. You don’t ever think you’re above the law. Kudos to the officer and her husband for handling the situation. And according to people who know her or have worked with her, what we saw in the video is the real her.

    But regardless, after 3 years, what did you think about her arrest in hindsight and do you think she was genuinely sorry?


    • My opinion really hasn’t changed much. Witherspoon has had a reputation for being cold, calculating, cut-throat, and driven since before she ever became famous. She did a really good job of manufacturing that girl-next-door image for a while. The arrest is where the image slipped and the truth came out for a bit. She smoothed it over as far as most people were concerned, but it didn’t matter all that much because she’s a 40-year-old actress and Hollywood isn’t all that interested in actresses once they hit that age. I give Witherspoon a lot of credit for creating opportunities for herself at a point in her career where no one else is likely to hand them to her. But don’t believe the America’s Sweetheart bit. That was never real.


      • Yeah, the arrest doesn’t seem to hurt her image when it likely could’ve. Her presence on social media, like I said, is so disingenuous and pathetic in her attempt at trying to maintain that image. There was a group interview with EW where she was talking more than anyone else and had an entitled aura around her. Have you seen it? I’m not saying she should act like a diva in public but she should be more authentic. As it stands, that arrest may have been the real her but has done a good job so far not acting like that again.

        And yeah, it’s good she has her own production company to make more roles for women but so far, she’s made roles for her. Gone Girl was close to being her role. Wild was a success but Hot Pursuit has brought her back to square one as far as I’m concerned.


  4. Reese Witherspoon admits she thinks the time may now be right for Legally Blonde 3


    • Ratatoing Sucks

      Didn’t she choose not to make another film? Guess she must be that desperate to be an A-lister again, joining the likes of Jim Carrey (Dumb and Dumber To) and Renee Zellwegger (Bridget Jones’ Diary).


  5. ironic she called tom hanks washed up his career is doing better then hers . his box office still higher. his last 4 flicks saving mr banks captain phillips bridge of spies and sully all box office hits


  6. Reese Witherspoon’s Best Type-A Maniacs

    It’s hard to think of a role that’s a better fit for Reese Witherspoon than Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the uptight type-A supermom at the heart of HBO’s Big Little Lies. Madeline, on her second marriage (to a bearded Adam Scott), is still obsessed with her first husband, played by James Tupper, and rages impotently against his New Agey new wife (Zoë Kravitz). She treats her daughters with all the affection of a Soviet gymnastics coach, and her singular goal currently, other than getting those daughters into good colleges, is to stage a community-theater production of Avenue Q. In the hands of a lesser actress, Madeline would amount to a pile of nonsense in yoga pants. As played by Witherspoon, she’s funny, intimidating, and when she reveals the cracks in her moisturized facade, a little tragic.

    More to the point, with Witherspoon playing her, Madeline gets to be the center of the story — or near the center, as Nicole Kidman’s Celeste, who harbors dark secrets in her home life, plays the moon to Witherspoon’s abrasive sun. She’s playing a kind of character she’s perfected: the type-A maniac. Witherspoon can take characters broad enough to be bullies, villains, or jokes, and make them the most compelling thing onscreen.


  7. I’ve recently read the argument that Reese Witherspoon is one of those actresses (like Goldie Hawn before her) is talented comedic actress that’s no longer being cast in those roles due to age discrimination. Reese therefore, is a good example of a an actress who is changing her career to be more of a dramatic actress (i.e. “Wild”) and producer.


  8. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Reese Witherspoon

    Reese Witherspoon is one of the few child stars to have had a tremendous amount of success in her adult career. She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards – winning one for her role as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line – and she’s also become one of the most influential producers in Hollywood. Since she’s celebrating a birthday, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Reese Witherspoon:


  9. ‘There’s no love lost at all’: Reese Witherspoon ‘furious with co-star Nicole Kidman after fallout over their new TV show Big Little Lies’


  10. Rewatching “Sweet Home Alabama” with Reese Witherspoon and this movie is racist!!?p=31001636&viewfull=1#post31001636

    This movie came out in 2002/2003 so I was a child back then and I missed a lot that was wrong with it. But my God it’s bad. Confederate flags all over the place, only black people shown are servants and look scared, and the make southerns seem dense as hell. Just weird.


  11. ‘Actors are NOT machines’: Reese Witherspoon nearly ‘lost her mind’ during Big Little Lies shoot… and says she regrets working when pregnant


  12. ‘It’s hard being an actress over 25’: Reese Witherspoon admits she feels ‘liberated’ in her forties as she continues to fight for female importance in Hollywood



      Last year, Reese Witherspoon took part in an Entertainment Weekly round-table discussion for leading ladies or multi-hyphenate actresses or something. She told a story of why she decided to start her own production company as a way of producing female-centric movies with good roles for women and good jobs for female directors, producers, etc. Reese basically said that she was sent an awful script for a romantic comedy and there was a “girlfriend part” and she was told that a bunch of different A-list women were chasing this terrible role in a terrible comedy. And that’s when she knew she needed to start her own production company. Reese was rather blatantly talking sh-t about this movie that got made, which is how it became a huge blind item. She ended her story with “And by the way, two Oscar winners did it.” We discussed the blind item here. Well, Reese took part in another roundtable discussion, this time for The Hollywood Reporter’s Emmy preview/potential Best Actress nominees. The whole piece was good, albeit long-winded and if you want to see the full THR package, go here. But Reese talked about that awful comedy again, plus she shaded someone else in a blind item.

      Blind Item #1: “I started a production company five years ago because I was looking at maybe the worst script I’ve ever read in my entire life and it had two parts for women. I called my agents and said, “This is such a terrible script.” They said, “Well, seven women want it so … you’re the only one who’s not vying for the part.” And I thought, “God, if this is what we’ve come to, I have to get busy.” Because you can either complain about a problem or you can be part of the solution.” “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried)

      Blind Item #2: “I was talking to this very famous actor and I said, “How did you prepare for this role?” He said, “Well, I went into the woods for three weeks and I didn’t talk to anybody.” And this person has a lot of kids and is married. And he’s like, “You did the same thing for Wild, right?” I was like, “Uh, no.” If I went away for three weeks and no one could call me, everybody would’ve had a mental breakdown. I got on a plane and was shooting within 24 hours. I wish I had prep time. I love the preparation. I love watching and reading and digging deep. Matt Damon “The Martian”; Matthew McConaughey “Mud”


  13. Celebs who let fame go to their heads

    Reese Witherspoon

    When most people think about out-of-control celebs, Reese Witherspoon probably doesn’t come to mind. But in 2013, the actress let her fame get the best of her when her husband/agent Jim Toth was pulled over for drunk driving in Atlanta. Instead of cooperating with the police, the presumably drunk Witherspoon allegedly began arguing with an officer and found herself charged with disorderly conduct, according to TMZ. 

    Even worse, the whole thing was captured on dashcam video. Witherspoon is seen and heard dropping the “Do you know who I am?” card before busting out the now infamous line, “I’m an American citizen. I’m allowed to stand on American ground!”

    What she should’ve done is let the police arrest her husband for committing a dangerous and illegal act, which is exactly what Toth told her, after making it a point to the tell the cops, who’d just received an earful of A-list actress, “I’m sorry. I had nothing to do with that.”

    To her credit, the Legally Blonde (2001) actress apologized for her actions and hasn’t shied away from addressing the embarrassing incident. “I guess maybe we all like to define people by the way the media presents them, and I think that I showed I have a complexity that people didn’t know about,” she said a press conference (via HuffPost). “It’s part of human nature. I made a mistake. We all make mistakes. The best you can do is say sorry and learn from it and move on.”


  14. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston team up for new TV series

    Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon are delving into the world of New York morning shows for a new TV series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will reunite the two actresses, who previously played sisters on Friends.

    Not much of a plot description for the show was made available, but it is said to explore “morning shows and the larger New York media scene they inhabit.” The series does not have a network attached yet, but it set to be shopped to premium cable and streaming services, where it is likely to attract quite a few bidders.

    Both actresses are set to executive produce and star in the series, which has a script from House of Cards writer Jay Carson based on an original idea from former HBO head of drama Michael Ellenberg. Steve Kloves (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) will also executive produce alongside Lauren Levy Neustadter, of Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company.

    Witherspoon recently made a very successful jump to TV with the buzzy HBO series Big Little Lies, which earned her an Emmy nomination. While the actress still has exciting upcoming film roles in movies like A Wrinkle in Time and Tinker Bell, she definitely seems interested in further expanding into TV both behind and in front of the camera.

    For Aniston, the project marks a long-awaited return to the medium, which brought her a Golden Globe and an Emmy win, among many nominations, for her part as Rachel on Friends. (She also holds an Emmy nomination for her guest turn on 30 Rock.) Aniston previously told Variety that she would be interested in returning to television, saying, “That’s where the work is. That’s where the quality is.”

    There is no word yet on a timeline for the series, but, with two A-list actresses attached, we should definitely be hearing more about it in the future. For now, see all of the TV shows that will blow you away this year. 


    • Jennifer Aniston Reduced to Television!!

      You’re completely missing the point,. Even with their career the way they are, they still haven’t the need to do a television series. That could possibly (and most likely) change a few years down the road, especially as they go over the fifty mark. But as of now, they can still choose to not have to go the route of a weekly television series And Winslet did one TV miniseries over a decade ago. That’s not consistent television work. Julia Roberts does an occasional spot on TV but doesn’t have to commit to regular work.

      Comparisons to African American actresses and older actresses are ridiculous. It’s apples and oranges. Witherspoon and Aniston are still part of an age range of Caucasian women who could still work almost exclusively in movies if they had the clout. It’s still there among a few. Witherspoon may be building a reputation as a fierce producer behind the scenes, but I don’t doubt that it’s because she knows that she can’t fill the seats to the theaters on her name alone anymore. Aniston spent years refusing to do another television series and tried desperately to make herself a successful movie star. She even went all out for one of her last films with an Oscar campaign that backfired. If her last several movies were hits, I doubt she would give TV a second thought.


      reply 26 Last Thursday at 4:58 PM


  15. Monroe 55th anniversary

    Post by karl100589 on 5 hours ago
    I always felt Marilyn was somewhat underrated as an actress; People often paint this idea that she was this bimbo that got as far as she did because of her looks, when I feel she was an underrated comedic actress who worked well in the ditz-with-a-heart role (i.e. Some Like It Hot).

    She was basically the original Reese Witherspoon.



    SEX FIESTA: This movie was big. Did it cross the $100M mark? Nope. Do all of you know it? Yep. It is just one of those movies that has a very very long life. Back when they made it they were having some soundtrack issues. Actually a lot of soundtrack issues. The producers hated some songs which were going to be on the soundtrack. Loved some that were going to be in the movie but couldn’t get on the soundtrack. Oh, and they also hated their composer. So, I went and visited the set for a couple of days to hash some of it out. I have seen a lot of sets before where people were having a lot of sex. Generally, they pair off and stayed paired off with the same people throughout the whole shoot. This one was completely different. This was one big party where filming was a break from the partying that was going on nonstop. A bunch of 20 something year olds who were all about to hit it big. Seriously, like a handful in the next year would be A list or close to it. There is a now A+ list mostly movie actress who was in it. She did a ton of partying but stayed away from the drugs. Drunk? Every second she could. The thing is she would pass out. If she passed out and the co-star she was hooking up with was still ready to party, he would hook up with any other co-star who was willing. There was a foreign born A- list actor in it. He had sex with three of his co-stars. Two of the female co-stars were dared one night to make out and they ended up doing more than making out. One of them would go on to be an A list television actress. The other probably peaked at A- list. She had a lot of issues after this film was made. I think this film actually introduced her to booze and drugs at a level she had not encountered and it has taken her a lot of years to get over it.

    Movie: “Cruel Intentions”

    A+ list movie actress: Reese Witherspoon

    Co-star: Ryan Phillippe

    Foreign born A- list actor: Joshua Jackson

    Co-stars he had sex with: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair, Tara Reid

    A list television actress: Sarah Michelle Gellar

    A-list actress: Tara Reid or Selma Blair


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