Chatty Reese Witherspoon challenged by repressed, non-verbal character
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – Reese Witherspoon considers herself an open and chatty person, and so the chipper actress whose breakthrough role came as the talkative innocent in 2001’s “Legally Blonde” said her newest acting part is something of a stretch.
In “How Do You Know,” Witherspoon plays a tightly wound, fiercely competitive athlete who is facing a career crisis and is very uncomfortable talking about her feelings.
“I think what was an interesting quality about my character,” Witherspoon said during a pre-release press conference for the Columbia Pictures film. “I’ve done a lot of comedies where a woman talks a lot about her romantic dynamics and is always kind of talking about men, and like, ‘What should I do?’ And this character is a woman who has a hard time conveying her emotions and doesn’t even really want to talk about things which is sort of an interesting female character.
“My character says to Owen (Wilson) at one point, ‘If I wake up in the middle of night and start crying just ignore me, please.’ What woman would ever say that in real life? But that was sort of fascinating for me because I usually play really verbal characters. This woman is more sort of interior.”
The decidedly feminine Witherspoon said another challenge for her in this role was getting in touch with her inner jock.
“That was incredible,” she said. “I got to work with all these Olympian softball players and to get into the mind of a female athlete. I’m not really that athletic, and Jim (Brooks) said that he wanted detail and specificity. He said, ‘I really want you to work with coaches and train.’ So I did that for four months, three hours a day. I’m still not any good at softball, but I learned a lot. And it is a completely different culture.”
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