Last year, Reese Witherspoon told me that she tore herself apart and read a script over and over again while deciding on taking part in a project.
“I read the lines out loud and try to imagine if this is what I want to do and then I’ll take 3 more meetings with the director,” she laughs.
Arriving at Beverly Hills’ Four Seasons Hotel, exuding youthful beauty and smiling playfully, she tells me that she finds romantic decisions no less tormenting.
“I am not a decisive person at all in any aspect of my life,” The Hollywood superstar exclaims, shaking her head.
Hence she easily relates to the character she plays in her recent movie This Means War, Lauren, who struggles to choose between two lovers, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy).
“I think they’re both very sexy and handsome and incredibly intelligent and smart, so it’s hard to make that decision,” she smiles.
In This Means War, two deadly CIA operatives FDR and Tuck, who are also inseparable partners and best friends, fall in love with Lauren Scott, who is completely oblivious to their friendship. The two lovers utilize their formidable covert abilities, physical prowess and charming skills to win Lauren’s confounded heart.
Torn between the handsome, suave and self-assured FDR and ruggedly good-looking and romantic Brit Tuck, who between them fulfill every wish she ever longed for, Lauren seeks guidance from her best pal, Trish (Chelsea Handler), to decode her romantic dilemma.
“I think most women have other women to rely on for life advice. I definitely have my crew of girls that I go to about everything in my life. They tell me if they think I’m making a bad decision or they don’t like some guy I’m dating or they don’t like my haircut,” Witherspoon chuckles.
But Trish’s advice is more confusing than enlightening. Indecisive herself, Trish recommends dating both guys.
Amazingly, the romantic quandary on the screen was mirrored off-screen too as half the women on the film set picked Chris Pine for Lauren and the other half picked Tom Hardy.
“Every woman has a different taste. They all have a type,” she says, throwing her arm in the air.
But the southern actress concedes that many women find bad guys more attractive than nice guys. “I think these women are not old enough to understand the difference,” she laughs.
Having gone through several relationships, including a failed marriage with actor Ryan Philippe, Witherspoon insists that a woman’s choice shouldn’t be restricted by mere attraction. “It’s important certainly, but I think you pick the person who makes you a better woman, not the better man. I do think as you get older it really is about who brings out the best in you and what enhances your life.”
“I wish when I was younger my mother had told me it was really important to be treated nicely. That’s the most important thing that you can have in a relationship,” the daughter of academic parents enthuses.
Witherspoon is happily married to talent agent, Jim Toth, whom she met in 2010.“I was at a party and there was somebody who had had a lot to drink and was talking to me kind of loud, and Jim said ‘excuse my friend, his girlfriend just broke up with him and he’s had too much to drink.’ I thought it was very sweet,” she recounts.
Within months, the couple got engaged and in March 2011 wedded in a private ceremony at Witherspoon’s ranch estate in Ojai, California. “I am just very happy and very lucky to be with somebody I really care about and things are very good. He’s a wonderful man, great character.”
One of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, commanding $15-20 million per movie, The Oscar-winner insists that money is not what drives her forward.“I derive a lot of purpose from what I do so I don’t evaluate myself based on how much money I make, and I certainly have enough money,” she laughs.
“But if I had more I would give more away and hopefully create more change in the world and make it a better place for women and children and people everywhere,” she adds.
Indeed, the mother of two is actively involved in children’s and women’s advocacy organisations, including Save the Children and Children’s Defence Fund, and serves as the honorary chair of the Avon Foundation, a charitable organisation that supports women and focuses on breast cancer research and the prevention of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence has become an epidemic in the world,” she exclaims. “1 in 3 women is affected by domestic violence and I think this is primarily because nobody’s talking about it. The most important thing that you can do is to speak out and find safety. Avon provides toll free hotlines that the person on the other end has either legal advice or safe houses for women to get to.”
When the 36-year-old actress is not shooting movies or bettering the world, she assumes the title of “home dweller,” cleaning, organising and baking cookies and cupcakes with her children, 12-year-old Ava Elizabeth and 8-year-old Deacon, whom she had with Ryan Philippe.
Beaming with happiness and joy, America’s sweetheart seems to have it all, wonderful kids, a loving husband and a flourishing career.
“I have an appreciation of everything. I think when you’re struggling as an actor in your twenties and trying to get foothold into a career and you are more critical of yourself, you’re more judgmental of yourself. Now I am in a place here I feel very lucky to have made so many movies and worked with so many wonderful people and have this kind of extended family all over the world. I am just really grateful,” she smiles humbly.