Reese Witherspoon doesn’t want to be ‘likeable’ anymore: are you feeling it?


Are you tired of the Rah Rah Feminism jag that every actress has been on lately? I don’t mind it, honestly. I’d much rather cover actresses talking about feminism than, say, what they eat or how they parent or how they were terribly uncool in their teen years. And while I find American Citizen ™ Reese Witherspoon pretty unlikeable these days, I’ll admit that she has some interesting things to say from inside the Hollywood Machine. Reese is campaigning for that Oscar, hoping that she somehow gets a second Best Actress Oscar for her work in Wild. That seems to be where she’s positioning herself these days. Hilariously, the press surrounding her Oscar campaign is mirroring Matthew McConaughey’s campaign last year – everybody has noticed it, and Reese is even using the same kind of McConaughey-esque language of “I made a conscious effort to redirect.” Reese mixes it with a dash of feminism and voila! Oscar campaign! Here are some highlights from Reese’s New York Times interview:

Why she “redirected” her career a few years ago: “Other than one studio, literally one, nobody was developing anything with a female lead. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. And I was so mad. And then I thought: ‘Why am I so upset about this? Why don’t I do something about it?’ ”

The perils of being a likeable America’s Sweetheart: “I’ve sat through millions of development meetings where people are like: ‘We don’t want Reese to say profanity. We don’t want her to have sex. We don’t want her to take drugs.’ I didn’t really feel the constraints of it until about three years ago, where I realized, ‘I’m not this.’ I’m a complex person that has so many different aspects in my personality. But somehow, I have this reductive experience where I’m put into this tiny little box. Likable. Can we scrub the likable box? And what is likable? To me, likable is human, and real, and honest. To me, I find the character in ‘Wild’ much more likable than a lot of characters I’ve played in comedy. She’s telling the truth. She’s not ashamed of the sexual experiences she’s had. She’s not ashamed of her drug use.”

Her 15-year-old daughter Ava: “It’s interesting to see how men look at her now. And what kind of women is she looking at in film? Who are her heroes?” Beyond some of Jennifer Lawrence’s characters, in the “The Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” Ms. Witherspoon said, “It’s pretty thin.”

On her performance in Wild: “I said to my producing partner, ‘If we can pull this off, this’ll be the first movie, I believe, I can’t recall, but that stars a woman that at the very end has no money, no man, no parents, no job, no opportunities, and it’s a happy ending.’ How important, how needing of that, are we? How late to the party are we?”

Feminism: “We save ourselves. Every woman knows it. Every man knows it. You look up. Nobody’s coming to the rescue. It’s a universal story. But it’s revolutionary in the way that a woman is allowed to tell it.”

[From The NY Times]

I’m fine with the message, but I do find the messenger questionable. The thing is… being “likeable” is a gilded cage, I get that. But for women like Reese, like Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Garner and Sandra Bullock and many more, likeability is extremely lucrative. It’s how many actresses build their resumes and their bank accounts. Likeability and relatability are two of the most powerful tools for celebrity women. But, as I said, likeability is a gilded cage. Many of those “sweethearts” have tried to break out and get dirty (Reese even got arrested after bitching out a cop), and very few people are buying it. So, after so many years of being told that Reese is likeable, that she’s a sweetheart, that she’s just a down-home Southern girl and she could be your best friend… now Reese is turning her back on that image. All to save her career and possibly get another Oscar nomination. What do you think?


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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79 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon doesn’t want to be ‘likeable’ anymore: are you feeling it?”

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  1. Reece says:

    Was never much of a fan to begin with. So there you go. Job done!

    • minx says:

      Well, that’s what I was going to say. Was she ever aiming for likeable? If so, she failed.

    • HH says:

      Same here. I think this is just a cover up. She was a “likeable, America’s sweetheart” type of actress, but then she got arrested and had some awful comments on the police video. THAT put a dent in her image. That’s what made people view her differently. Re shaping her image is an after thought in response to that fiasco.

    • Wendi says:

      Same here–lots of other actresses that are more worthy of the praise and opportunities IMO. Make her go away.please??

  2. Jh says:


  3. Jess says:

    I never found her likeable.

  4. Kiddo says:

    She’s right on target then, lol.

  5. QQ says:

    I am, simply cause it takes less American Citizen’s efforts to front like you are nice and sweet than to be her authentic self…. that however don’t mean EYE have to like you, Chinny Chin -Chin

    • Greata says:

      Agree. This is a farce cooked up in Jim Toth’s lab. Go away Reese!!

    • Belle Epoch says:

      QQ – you crack me up. I think her sudden interest in less perky characters coincided with her epic meltdown at being arrested. She stopped being likeable right there – so now she’s going to go with it instead of clawing her way back to her former image.

      Where is the husband in all this? Is he her manager or anything?

    • Christin says:

      Let us not forget this American citizen is the direct descendant of a Constitution signer. And daddy and mommy are very well educated. — Wonder if she will continue to brag about that type of pretentious stuff in the future?

  6. Itsnotthatserious says:

    She doesn’t need to worry because I do not like her fake ass self

  7. Jaded says:

    Was she ever?

  8. Candy Love says:

    Don’t for get she will be launching her lifestyle Brand soon a new Oscar will only boost that.

  9. Eleonor says:

    I think those boots seem too big.

  10. melodycalder says:

    I haven’t liked her in years, regardless of whether that was her intention or not.

  11. The Original Tiffany says:

    I’m finding those boots likable and that is about it.

  12. Annika says:

    I’ve never really thought of her as a “sweetheart.”
    Something about the way she carries her purses in those photos annoys me.

    • Dawn says:

      Well, that’s because she needs to show them to earn the 50K/day she gets for carrying them around!

    • India Andrews says:

      She walks like a very prissy southern miss. That’s probably what you’re sensing Annika.

  13. Jaderu says:

    I’m going to start liking Reese, just to pis* her off.

    • Kiddo says:

      lol. Let’s start a fan club: “I just LOVE Reese, she’s so likeable” memes on instagram.

    • mia girl says:

      This is an inspired idea Jaderu.
      I’m off to make tshirts for you, me and Kiddo
      The most likable American Citizun!”

      But the truth is she’s trying to PR Jedi mind trick us all into finding her more likable because she’s trying not to be so likeable but underneath it all she’s just so likable that we can’t help but like her even though she doesn’t want that and only wants to play unlikable characters, which in turn we will like her even more for.

      • Jaderu says:

        That’s like some reverse like psychology dude. Like ya know?

      • mia girl says:

        I believe in the revised edition of the “How to Campaign During Award Season” handbook it’s called a “Reverse Hathaway”

        You get Oscar voters to like you by appearing as if you are not trying to get them to like you.

      • JustChristy says:

        I did a reverse Hathaway once. Couldn’t sit right for weeks after.

      • mia girl says:

        @JustChristy Ha!
        Yeah, with both versions of the Hathaway, you’ve GOT to stick the landing. Otherwise it can take a long time to recover. Just ask AnnE

      • Cheryl says:

        Does one flash crotch in the reverse Hathaway? Just for clarification?

      • mia girl says:

        Section 10B of the handbook states crotch flashing IS permitted in a Reverse Hathaway but ONLY under the guise of playing an unlikeable character in your film.
        That way, it’s for art’s sake.

      • Jaderu says:

        I’m cackling at Reverse Hathaway.

  14. Izzy says:

    Mission accomplished.

  15. FingerBinger says:

    I don’t like her or dislike. She’s ok.

  16. Kara says:

    I think she should just sit on her pile of money and STFU.

  17. Hissyfit says:

    The only thing I love about her is her fashion style.

  18. oompaloompa says:

    She is now and forever Laura Jean Poon

  19. Falkor says:

    Triscuit McLenoChin never started being likeable, so stopping will be a breeze.

  20. LexyLoo says:

    Sorry, all I see are screen shots from another Elle application tape. “I can dial a phone!” “I can sassy-walk with my big purse!”

  21. loli says:

    reese is not likeable- she is a gossip and a bitch and a drunk (according to people who work with her) but that’s not why i don’t like her- it’s cause she is phony and smug as all hell.

    • Twinkle says:

      she really is! I heard stories from the woman who produced the Avon commercials and she said Reese is a very UNLIKABLE PERSON. She’s entitled, rude, spoilt, out-of-touch. Reese was upset while on set that some lowly PA had the nefve to talk to her children.

      So interesting that people on this thread see through her.

    • minx says:

      I fume whenever I see that mugshot where refused to look into the lens–and she got away with it!

    • Rhiley says:

      You know when she is going to really smack of being a hypocrite? When she plans to launch her lifestyle site (if that is still in the works). When that launches she will be very likable, inviting us all in for some sweet tea, sugar cookies, and good ol’ Tennessee bbq and mac and cheese. She knows her audience will primarily be Southern, white, upper middle class wives and mothers, and she will throw on the charm in heaps. We will get to tour Charleston with her, shop at terrific flea markets for shabby chic outdoor furniture with her, she will share all of her favorite recipes with us, and let us know which books she recommends for a great family vacation at the beach. It is going to be nauseating.

  22. bowers says:

    She did that long time ago when she said, “Do you know who I am?” hahahahahaha

  23. Brionne says:

    Hmmmm.. what is she saying about her minime daughter?

    • Anne says:

      um, yeah, that comment made me a bit uncomfortable. I just wish she had said “boys” and not “men.”

      • RosettaStoned says:

        Dude, it IS men who are looking at her daughter. When I was 14 I started noticing grown men look at me as a piece of meat, and I wanted to drop out of society right then and there. I think she said “interesting” because she didn’t want to say “repulsive”.

      • India Andrews says:

        RosettaStoned +1

        Once after I was eighteen one of my mom’s friends hit on me. I had known this man since childhood. I wanted to barf.

        Reese’s daughter is even younger than I was when I had that encounter.

  24. poppy says:

    so far, from the comments here, she was never likable -at most, bland and inoffensive.

    she cultivated the hell out of “likable”. she chose, demanded, then refused to come out of that box.
    until now, after she exhibited offensive, unlikeable behavior.
    oops! strategy change! she did that on purpose 🙄

    she’s as complex as any privileged, spoilt, developmentally-arrested-at-14-years-old woman.

  25. Penelope says:

    She really revealed herself to be an entitled, grumpy little drunk on the infamous video but I thought she damage-controlled that incident pretty well. In any event, I like her as an actress.

    And she has the cutest figure–she’s in shape but doesn’t look like she starves herself.

  26. JB says:

    I’m actually okay with her, as long as she’s being authentic. She has always been a bitch and that’s fine with me. Just be a bitch. Don’t TRY to look like you aren’t. If she’s going to start owning it then I’m down. Same way with genuinely likable people – as I think Jennifer Garner and Sandra Bullock are. It doesn’t bother me if you’re sweet and cool. Takes all types.

  27. Anne says:

    I watched “Vogue’s 73 questions with Reese W.” the other day. God, it made me dislike her. Having said that: If she can direct that shrill Tracey Flick energy into producing kick ass films with female leads, she’ll win in my book.
    Like it or not, “likeable” is the safe bet in HW. Reese knows that. Reese chased “likeable.” She CAN’T fit into that box anymore, thanks to TMZ, so she’s got to embrace a re-frame of who she is – it looks like “complicated human being” is the next safe bet at those development meetings. She’s made her millions, won her oscar, had her moment – I think she milked her likeability quotient for all it was worth. She might as well move on from it. Just do it gracefully, Reese.

    And I’m surprised anyone can remember the language of McConaughey’s oscar campaign.

    • Penelope says:

      Well said, Anne. I think Tracy Flick was the closest she’s ever come to playing her real personality. 🙂

      And she was wonderful in that role, so there’s that.

  28. Hautie says:

    Well hell…. why doesn’t Reese ask Katherine Heigl about how being unlikeable, has turned out for her. I suspect Heigl would sell her Mother to the lowest bidder…. at this point… to be likeable again.

    So my very bias opinion, for our little American Citizen, is to go have a seat.

    Attempting to be greedy for another Oscar, is only going to backfire on her.

  29. stickershock says:

    Confirming those blind items about being horribly racist would be a huge step in this direction

  30. whatsmyname? says:

    Is she still doing the lifestyle site? Because I can’t see her not being likeable when she is trying to sell stuff to people.

  31. cindy says:

    No, not likable. American citizen actually scares me a little. She seems like the worst nightmare/monster of all mean girls. If I saw her in person I would actually run.

  32. Suckmyfarts says:

    Say what you will about Reese negative nellies…Wild is an excellent movie & she will probably win a well-deserved Oscar for it.
    Who really cares who she truly is as a person. Her job is to entertain me & her movies too. I could careless how she acts offscreen. Honestly why does anyone else care either. Watch her movies or don’t…get on w/ your lives

    • Candice says:

      Wow- If anyone was expecting the response to this Reese article to be varied and interesting I guess they need to look elsewhere— I had to scroll through 61 cements before finally coming to a Reese fan/defender.
      There are many actresses who are more talented and yes, nicer more gracious people yet someone like Reese has managed to get all the glory….shame.

    • loli says:

      Actually, that movie is incredibly lame. The trailor tells you all you need to know- flat preformance, overly sentimental, over-edited and cheesey and seriously unrealistic. It has a low IMDB rating to boot- so it doesn’t look like early viewers are on board, either. It’s not just me that thinks it stinks. And I hope people don’t see her movies, because they don’t like her, and she doesn’t want to be liked, so brilliant. Win-win…
      I mean, she’s been playing the America’s Sweetheart card for years, than when that arrest revealed to mass audiences that she is IRL an utterly entitiled bitch, she and her team try to spin it around that she is ‘comlicated’ and ‘layered’ and ’empowered’ and all this other bullshit. I mean, what kind of twat actually says things like ‘oh my arrest gave people an indication that i lead a layered life’ or some bullshit like that? reese says that kind of shit. she is not layered, she is a out of touch twat. there are many layers between her and reality… that is about all.

  33. Ice Queen says:

    Eh, all she has to do is be herself, a bitchy self-entitled drunk.

  34. Ana says:

    I liked her in Freeway *snickers*

    • Betty says:

      Yes, I loved her early movies–“Freeway,” “Man in the Moon,” “Pleasantville,” “Election.” After “Legally Blonde,” she made a series of boring rom coms that made me stop being a fan.

    • GByeGirl says:

      That movie was awesome! When I saw Legally Blonde, I was confused and thought…well, at least she has “range”.

  35. serena says:

    I think I don’t care for her anymore.

  36. Str8Shooter says:

    Mission Accomplished!!!

  37. Onyx XV says:

    She overestimates her “likeability”!!

  38. LAK says:

    Her career path is similar to MM in that she had early success plying dark and or dramatic roles before switching to romcoms.

    No money left in romcoms, so she’s switching back to where her career was. This was a woman who, like Eddie Murphy, was all about the paycheck rather than quality of the script.

    She’s had a production company for decades so it’s an outright lie to say she’s only now making her own films. Her production company was talked about in every interview she gave as evidence of her control of her own career.

  39. abby says:

    The striking similarity between Reese’s campaign and Matthew Mc. is due to the fact that Reese’s husband (jim Toth) is MM agent (or whatever his job at CAA is) and he was behind MM career resurgence. You know he is leading Reese’s campaign too. This is the plan to spin the DUI and her behavior while chasing Oscar gold, embrace her inner “bad girl”as part of this career reinvention/revitilization.

    We’ll see if Toth can deliver 2 yrs in a row.

  40. OrangeBlohan says:

    But that would indicate that she was likable before. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for her!!