Reese Witherspoon: ‘I dealt with sexual harassment in my own way’

Roisin O'Connor
Getty Images for Turner Image

Reese Witherspoon has spoken about experiencing sexual harassment in the film industry, and said she dealt with it “in my own way”.

The actor and producer appeared on the NPR podcast Fresh Air Weekend to discuss her new series The Morning Show, which also stars Jennifer Aniston (also co-executive producer) and Steve Carell.

The Morning Show stars Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson, a field reporter whose haphazard style of reporting brings her into a new world of TV journalism.

This takes place as she falls into a rivalry with top news anchor Alex Levy (Aniston), who is dealing with the fallout from a sexual misconduct scandal involving her former partner of 15 years, Mitch Kessler (Carell), who has just been fired.

“Sometimes the world is so crazy, TV shows and movies are a great way to understand where we’re at,” Witherspoon told host Terry Gross of the show’s themes.

Addressing her own experiences and how that affected her work, she said: “I didn’t know assault was happening with such frequency… I didn’t have any idea what other people’s experiences were.

“I’d only had my own experiences, and I definitely dealt with harassment,” she continued, “and I had dealt with that privately and in my own way, with my family when I was young and starting in the business. I didn’t have any understanding of the widespread abuse that women – and many people – were experiencing.”

Of the #MeToo movement that was sparked after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, Witherspoon said she was “blown away” when more women started to come forward with their own stories.

“When women started to gather and start talking together and sharing their stories, I was blown away,” she said. “I was in shock. I think a lot of us were.”

Also in the podcast, Witherspoon discussed her career as both an actor and a producer, and how she originally wanted to be a country singer while growing up in Nashville.

While a singing coach advised her not to pursue a musical career and go for acting instead, Witherspoon went on to star as June Carter Cash opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, which involved her having to sing in front of crowds of people.

She ultimately won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2006 for her performance.

The Morning Show is available now on AppleTV+

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