Reese Witherspoon: ‘I always say, ‘Funny doesn’t sag.’ I always just wanted to be funny’

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Reese Witherspoon covers the latest issue of Vanity Fair to promote Little Fires Everywhere. She’s settled into what her persona/deal is at this point, after years of what I thought were some wrong tracks and weird moments. Her deal, right now, is to keep it simple: she’s a huge reader, her love of books led to producing, and everything culminated with Reese developing, producing and starring in several projects with her female-led lady-ensembles. She does not take credit (or want credit) for breaking any glass ceiling or anything like that. But she still gets a lot of credit. As she should, honestly. Her actions over the past six years have led to some big changes in how women produce AND with equal pay in the industry. This VF cover profile is good, a tad overwritten, but good. Some highlights:

Her book club is helping authors do Oprah-Book-Club-level sales: “It’s nice to highlight authors who don’t have a track record of selling a lot of books. To watch what happens to them is extraordinary, and really emotional for us.”

Demanding equal pay for equal work from HBO: “An actress came up to me at a party and said, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ I had no idea what she was talking about. The day after the HBO equal pay thing went through, they called her agent to rewrite her contract. She was then paid twice as much as she had been.”

She loves Laura Dern. “You know, you meet people, you’re friends with people, but I say about a few women in my life, they are my sisters. I don’t have a sister and I found my sister in Laura. No one makes me laugh like Laura. She’s magical.”

Her character in Little Fires Everywhere: “Creating that character was a new challenge for me. Despite her intelligence and social grooming, she has a deeply embedded lack of awareness of her privilege. She’s constructed a life that’s impervious to the world she lives in. She’s so comfortable in her social standing and her wealth that she feels entitled to analyze anyone outside her sphere but never takes a hard look at her own shortcomings.”

When Reese is asked how women can still pose for sexy photos while talking about subjects like sexual abuse & harassment: “I can tell you what my daughter would say. Why should a woman have to sublimate her own sexuality, because that’s not her responsibility, the way she’s viewed, right? Her sexuality shouldn’t be diminished because she’s having a conversation about consent. You should be able to be sexual, to display your sexuality, because consent is consent, no matter what…. it’s complex. It’s not how I grew up. I grew up thinking you dress the way you want to be treated. But things are changing.”

She never wanted to be the sexy girl in Maxim: “I always had a thing about exploiting sexuality. When I came up in the business, there were all these men’s magazines we were told to cater to. I was never in Maxim. I was never picked as a GQ girl, and I’m okay with that because that’s not how I wanted to be viewed. That’s not how I see myself. I always say, ‘Funny doesn’t sag.’ I always just wanted to be funny, you know? And you can’t be rendered obsolete if you just keep being funny. Guess what gets rendered obsolete? Your boobs go south, your face goes south, your ass goes south, but you can always be funny. And those are my idols, my heroes—Goldie, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Nancy Meyers—smart and funny.”

Working in films at a young age: “Ah, yes. Bad things happened to me. I was assaulted, harassed. It wasn’t isolated. I recently had a journalist ask me about it. She said, Well, why didn’t you speak up sooner? And I thought, that’s so interesting to talk to someone who experienced those things and then judge them for the way they decide to speak about them. You tell your story in your own time when you’re ready. But the shame that she tried to put on me was unreal, and then she wrote about how selfish I was for not bringing it up sooner. There wasn’t a public reckoning 25 years ago when this stuff happened to me. There wasn’t a forum to speak about it either. Social media has created a new way for people to express themselves that I didn’t have. That’s the great strength in power and numbers. I think we have a lot of judgment and that’s unfortunate because we’re all tenderfooted in these new times. We’re trying to find our identity. That’s what I really like about The Morning Show.”

[From Vanity Fair]

I really hated that Reese was even asked the question about “how can actresses pose sexy when they’re talking about being harassed?” That kind of thinking is ridiculous at this point. We’ve gone so far beyond that, the idea that an actress looking sexy in a magazine is somehow “opening herself up” to harassment and abuse, like she can only blame herself for being so sexy. (Gosh, maybe Emily Ratajkowski *does* have a point, huh?) And while Reese’s initial answer is good, she then goes off on some Not That Kind of Girl tangent about “funny doesn’t sag.” God help us all if a comedienne is sexy too! Or that women WANT to be sexy and they want to be funny, complicated, intelligent, multifaceted people. Lord.

Cover and photos courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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22 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon: ‘I always say, ‘Funny doesn’t sag.’ I always just wanted to be funny’”

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  1. Mumbles says:

    I have never thought of her as a comic actor and she didn’t start out as one. And I remember reading an oral history of “Legally Blonde” where someone commented that she didn’t seem to get the jokes. But she’s a great producer and a smart cookie.

  2. minx says:

    Her face looks different.

  3. Jillian says:

    I thought that was her daughter Ava

  4. Aria says:

    I used to like her but she is Kate stan so that alone is kind of odd for me.

  5. Tiffany says:

    I get what Reese is saying about being funny. Being comedic equates to being well…fat, ugly, a loner, weird and no guy interested in you.

    You are funny as a defense mechanism and so much of your self worth is wrapped up in what males think of you and it is always on the scale of whether they want to have sex with you.

    Even if they don’t, at least being the funny one will get you some attention from them, albeit only temporary.

  6. Margetta says:

    Her face looks really, really different. Like…she doesn’t look like herself. Nothing too obvious in isolation, but all together her face just looks…….very different. The facial quirks that made Reese Witherspoon, well, Reese Witherspoon seem erased somehow. It’s hard to piun down what it is, but her mouth looks wider and is shaped in a different way, her chin is different, jawline is different too…. It’s not just “getting older.” This is not that. Her face is actually really different.

    Seems a bit at odds with her message of “Hey, looks fade and it is what it is, so personality is all!” But whatever. She looks different.

    • Other Renee says:

      It’s called Photoshop, airbrushing, Botox and plastic surgery. Looks like they’ve rounded off her chin.

  7. Ellie71 says:

    I noticed her face looked different to. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and thought might have just been her new haircut. Thoughts anyone!?

  8. Audrey says:

    She may have gotten a chin implant… I feel like it’s her mouth and lower face that looks so different.

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She changed her face. Must care a little bit about being funny and looking good doing it. Better to have just said a woman can dress, do, say, be anything she damn well wants to, at any time in her life she damn well has the urge and not have to succumb to answering dumb and ignorant questions concerning any of her choices. I, too, was raised that a woman who dresses a certain way is inviting a particular kind of attention. And you betchur ass I dressed for all kinds of attention so I could have opportunities to run my mouth. And as I was a bit older and working (international oil trading), running my mouth at white business men was my kind of awesome day. Trust me. They deserved every bit of it. Every day. And all day long lest they forget they were sewage. And because sometimes their families would visit, they’d piss their pants wondering if I’d say anything. I, too, am wanting to give vapid Emily a bit of a fist bump.

    As for wondering if I’d say anything, that’s the other side of the coin. Do we, as women, ‘dress a certain way’ attending important events? Would we try to make some sort of statement at a gathering honoring someone else, a special holiday, important celebrations? No. Because we can dress what we want when we want, and we know HOW to dress when particular occasions call for something…else. It’s comprehensive you see lol. If you’re gonna walk the walk, you need to be the complete package.

  10. emmy says:

    She’s not saying she doesn’t care about aging though? She just said that she never made her looks her main or only selling point because she knew that’s not a basis for longevity. Since Emily R was brought up, that’s a problem for her career-wise. She is young and has years to keep selling her looks. That’s great for her but that kind of career has a short lifespan. As for her activism, it’s also tied to her looks. She’s the uber sexy feminist. What happens when that first part goes?

    • Alyse says:

      Maybe when the first part goes, people will just pay attention to the second part?

      Some women really get to shine when their looks stop being their whole focus (not at all saying attractive people can’t be successful etc), as people start listening to what they’re actually saying or doing (for better or worse)

      Some people lose their looks and realise they have to work harder at other things…

      And yep, then there’s the one’s who desperately hold on to their looks / only asset and become sad caricatures (cough real housewives)

  11. JillyBean says:

    Her book club recommendations are fantastic…. I have been following her list for a year and a half now and I would say 90% of her recommendations are excellent enjoyable reads with strong female leads… my favourites so far is – where the crawdads sing and daisy jones &the six

  12. JRenee says:

    Didn’t recognize her.. chin changed..

    • Dilettante says:

      I’d say she had her chin shaved down, lip injections, something done to her nose and a brow lift….probably a face lift too but what do I know….

  13. SomeChick says:

    I like what she has to say.

    Those gowns are AWFUL, tho!

    Ann Patchett is a very interesting and talented writer. So it isn’t surprising that they talked about books, writing, and reading.

    Reese is really growing on me. I think she’s legit trying to do good things.