Category: Interviews

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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(Video) Good Morning America

Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern sit down with ABC News’ Jesse Palmer to discuss Big Little Lies. Earlier on Good Morning America, Reese and Nicole interviewed each other


Reese for The Wall Street Journal

Reese for The Wall Street Journal

Reese Witherspoon was frustrated. It was 2011, and the screenplays coming across her desk had one bland female character after another. Defined as wives or girlfriends, they were nice, respectable and, for an actor interested in character work, boring. She was drawn much more to the protagonists of the novels and memoirs she curled up with at night.

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“My husband said, ‘Honey, you read more books than anybody I know. Why don’t you just option some and turn them into movies?’ ” Ms. Witherspoon recalled in a recent interview in Santa Monica, Calif.

In short order, she teamed up with producer Bruna Papandrea, launched an independent production company called Pacific Standard, and went on the hunt for challenging female characters. The pair quickly demonstrated that they could sniff out best sellers. They scooped up their first two books—Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, “Wild,” and Gillian Flynn’s thriller, “Gone Girl”—before they were published. In July 2012, just five months after the company was launched, the books hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list at the same time—in the nonfiction and fiction categories, respectively. Together, the films earned three Oscar nominations and grossed more than half a billion dollars.

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(Video) Kerry Washington Gets Advice From Reese Witherspoon

(Video) Kerry Washington Gets Advice From Reese Witherspoon

Kerry Washington reveals the business advice she sought from pal Reese Witherspoon. She stopped by to say a few words to Ryan Seacrest from E! News during the red carpet.

(Photos) Reese covers Entertainment Weekly

(Photos) Reese covers Entertainment Weekly

For this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, and Elizabeth Banks sat down to discuss everything. The Beyond Beautiful roundtable, hosted by senior writer Nicole Sperling, touched on the group’s triumphs and challenges, and included deep conversations about sexism in Hollywood in all shapes and forms.

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Kerry, on the pressures in Hollywood: “It reminds me of this line that Shonda Rhimes wrote on our show that has really resonated with African-Americans. It’s this idea you have to be twice as good to get half of what they have. It’s something that most black people I talk, when they heard that line, it completely resonated with how they were raised and the messaged their parents gave them. ‘That’s just the truth.’ I think it’s the same for women. You just know, you have to be twice as good. In a way, until girls don’t have that feeling, we will not have done our jobs. That’s almost the point: to not feel the pressure to be extraordinary.”

Reese, on deciding acting wasn’t enough: “About four years ago I got sent an awful, terrible script. And this male star was starring in it, and there was a girlfriend part. And I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. No, I’m not interested.’ They said, ‘Well this actress is chasing it, that actress is chasing it: three Oscar winners and two huge box office leading ladies.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s where we’re at? You’re fighting to be the girlfriend in a dumb comedy? For what?’ And by the way, two Oscar winners did it.”

Eva, on social media: “I remember starting on Twitter. I loved the immediate way I could correct things. At the time there were just so may lies. It was stupid stuff, like ‘Eva’s pregnant, Eva’s pregnant, Eva’s pregnant.’ I’m like, ‘Guys, I ate a burger. I’m not pregnant’… because my mom would call!”


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