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The Hollywood Reporter: Drama Actress Roundtable

Six complex women — also including Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, Elisabeth Moss and Chrissy Metz — debate the power and pain of strong females (onscreen and off-) amid a culture of discrimination in the industry and beyond: “I don’t think we’ve ever seen this much misogyny.”

When Oprah Winfrey decided to adapt The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for HBO, she had two actresses in mind to play the role of Lacks’ daughter Deborah. But HBO Films president Len Amato wasn’t interested in her casting ideas: He wanted the media tycoon to be involved onscreen as well as off-. And after some heavy arm-twisting and a little time to get comfortable with the idea, Winfrey, 63, agreed — in part because the role allowed her to showcase, as she puts it, “a whole range of craziness.” It’s the opportunity to explore those layers of character and emotion that has drawn her and five other stars — Nicole Kidman, 49; Reese Witherspoon, 41; Elisabeth Moss, 34; Jessica Lange, 68; and This Is Us breakout Chrissy Metz, 36 — to work on television, as they revealed during The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Drama Actress Roundtable discussion on a Hollywood soundstage in May. “We have the opportunity to show the entire spectrum of human emotion that women have,” says Witherspoon, who, like Kidman, is a producer and star of HBO’s Big Little Lies. “We aren’t just the wives and the girlfriends. We are actually living, breathing people who have insecurities.” During the course of an hour, the six spoke candidly about the unexpected rewards and residue that come with inhabiting complicated women.

You have tackled ageism, sexism, misogyny, depression, domestic abuse, adultery and rape. When was the last time you were genuinely nervous to tackle a storyline?

OPRAH WINFREY (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HBO) I was genuinely nervous to take on the role of Deborah Lacks because look at this table. I come as the least experienced person at this table. I come as a person who has great respect for the craft of acting — and for years interviewing actresses and being inspired by actresses, but not developing the craft. I was really afraid to do that.

Afraid of what, exactly?

WINFREY I was afraid of making a fool of myself! (Laughter.)

NICOLE KIDMAN (Big Little Lies, HBO) That’s every day.

REESE WITHERSPOON (Big Little Lies, HBO) What are you talking about?! The Color Purple is so amazing.

WINFREY When was that? That was like 30 years ago now. And let me tell you what actually made me even more intimidated: I just finished doing a film with Reese and Ava DuVernay and Mindy Kaling [A Wrinkle in Time], and I just happened to ask Reese, “How many films have you done?” And you said, “Oh, honey child …” (Laughter.)

WITHERSPOON Do you all know how many movies you’ve done?

WINFREY You said, “I don’t know, 100 or so.” I was thinking, “Oh, God, I hope she doesn’t ask me because my number will be like, five, maybe?”

CHRISSY METZ (This Is Us, NBC) Oh, I’ve got you beat. I’ve done maybe one independent movie.

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(Photos) “Home Again” First Look

Here it is the first look in Home Again, which is set to hit theaters on September 8. Written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer in her directorial debut, Home Again is a story of love, friendship, and the families we create.

Reese stars as a woman who recently separate from her husband (Michael Sheen) and decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters. During a night out on her 40th birthday, Alice meets three aspiring filmmakers (Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky) who happen to be in need of a place to live. Alice agrees to let the guys stay in her guest house temporarily, but the arrangement ends up unfolding in unexpected ways. Alice’s unlikely new family and new romance comes to a crashing halt when her ex-husband shows up, suitcase in hand.

(Gallery Updates) Recent Public Appearances

I’ve been updating the gallery with Reese’s recent public events appearances such as a conversation on stage during the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday and honoring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell receive their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday afternoon. And of course, more pictures from the MET Gala. Make sure to check them out!

Reese teared up while speaking at Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony. She talked about framing a text message she received from Goldie Hawn, and her first email address.

Gallery Link:

Public Appearances > 2017 > “Rei Kawakubo/Comme Des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala (05.01)
Public Appearances > 2017 > Key Speakers at the 2017 Milken Conference (05.03)
Public Appearances > 2017 > “Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell” Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (05.04)

(Photos) Met Gala

Reese Witherspoon attended the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme Des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Reese was wearing a custom Mugler dress with Tiffany & Co. jewelry and Christian Louboutin shoes. Make sure to check out the first photos from the event in our gallery.

Gallery Link:

Public Appearances > 2017 > “Rei Kawakubo/Comme Des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala (05.01)

(Gallery Updates) Vanity Fair and Tiffany & Co. Events

Our gallery has been updated with the latest events from the last weekend. Reese was first seen at the Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair that united women entrepreneurs from technology, fashion, media, and other industries to talk about why they started their companies, how they built their businesses, and the lessons they’ve learned.

On Friday she joined Tiffany & Co. for a panel discussion about sustainability. She opened up about environmental issues, corporate responsibility and women in film. In the evening, Reese celebrated the jewelry company’s 2017 Blue Book Collection as well.

“I think it’s so important that we are making these films that represent different types of women. We aren’t black and white. We are a whole rainbow of colors and complexities, and we need to recognize that,” she explained.

Gallery Links:

Public Appearances > 2017 > Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair (04.20)
Public Appearances > 2017 > Tiffany & Co. Blue Book Sustaninability Panel (04.21)
Public Appearances > 2017 > Tiffany & Co. Blue Book Collection Gala (04.21)

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