The Nine About-to-Be Biggest Stars
by Suzan Colon
JANE Magazine, November 1998
(Thanks to Kai who generously shared this article; You may also view this at The Drive-in Presents Reese Witherspoon website)
...we think. After systematically narrowing down the list of great new actors - based on things like number of
upcoming roles and number of publicists' phone calls - we picked these nine future movie stars and crowned Reese Witherspoon, here, the queen.
"Don't even get me started about Hollywood actors or actresses - they're so arrogant. Around here, talent gets you into parties, it gets you great tables at restaurants, obviously it gets you great dates. But it takes a long time to understand that ultimately, it doesn't make you a good person."
It's clear to me early on my interview with Reese Witherspoon, 22, that there's something in her skull besides oatmeal. I know, you're sitting there saying, "Reese who? And why should I care?" But stay with me for a few minutes; it's a short article. And then you'll be able to say you knew her when.
When Reese was 14 and living in Nashville, Tenn., in 1991, she showed up for a casting call seeking extras for a movie called The Man in the Moon. "A month later, they sent me the script - they wanted me for a major part," she says. "I was in shock." So were her parents (a surgeon and a professor of nursing), who had thought their daughter might become a cardiologist, or something like that. "They're deeply confused as to why I want
to do this," says Reese of her acting career. "But they're shockingly supportive."
The Witherspoons have since gone to see all of Reese's movies - including S.F.W., with Stephen Dorff, and Twilight, with Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon. They always love her in them, but Reese doesn't always love herself. "Fear was the straw that broke my back," she says of the hyper-cheesy stalker movie she made with Mark Wahlberg. "That was the period where I wasn't challenging myself. I was taking really boring - I would venture to say even misogynistic - roles. Women who weren't exactly walking intellects."
Certainly, Reese, currently on hiatus from Stanford University, isn't usually the type to take the brainless route. "I recently sat down with one of the most important directors of our generation and the biggest star of the moment for a read-through of a novel written in the 1980s, which nobody understood," she tells me. "I said, 'Isn't this a direct response to another man who wrote about the sexual liberation of the time?' And the starlet said, [putting on an extra-girly voice] 'Well, women were just starting to get into the workforce in the '80s.' I thought, 'You know, you're really sweet and drop-dead gorgeous, but there isn't a fucking thing living in your head.'" Wonder who that was, but she won't tell me.
Reese's search for more challenging work has so far led her to two movies that sound pretty great. In Pleasantville, out next month, Reese plays a wild thing who brings some color - literally - to the black and white TV town that she and Tobey Maguire are accidentally beamed into from real life. She'll follow that up with Election, an MTV-produced movie costarring Matthew Broderick, in which Reese plays an overachiever who will do anything to get ahead (not like murder or anything, but some fairly unsavory stuff).
Conveniently, when you flip the page, you'll see Reese's live-in boyfriend, actor Ryan Phillippe. Yes, that one. Does the girl have taste or what? "I met him at my 21st birthday party. I don't know what came over me - maybe the seven Midori sours - but I told him, 'I think you're my birthday present.' He thought it was so flattering, and now that I think about it...how embarrassing!" Well, they've been living together in Beverly Hills for a year - maybe it was the way she delivered the line? "Oh, yes," Reese agrees. "It must have been the slurring. Or the spitting." Oh, well. Whatever works.
(For those interested, the "8 Future Jane Covers" were: Ben Chaplin, Kimberly Elise, Claire Forlani, Monica Potter, Omar Epps, Ryan Phillippe, Katie Holmes, and Nick Stahl.