During the 74th Academy Awards, then then-couple walked out on stage together to present the list of nominees for a gong for 'Best Make-Up'. Phillippe proceeded to hand the envelope to the actress to read the winner's name aloud, commenting: 'You make more money than I do.'
During an appearance on the HFPA in Conversation podcast earlier this week, the Big Little Lies star opened up about how she was caught equally as off-guard as the audience, who laughed in shock, by Phillippe's remark.
The 44-year-old Legally Blonde star began by noting that the line was not rehearsed.
'You’re reminding me of that! I forgot that ever happened,' Witherspoon noted, adding, 'But you’re right, he did say that, and no, it wasn’t scripted, and he didn’t tell me he was going to say that before it happened on air. So I was a little bit flummoxed in the moment, too.'
The Big Little Lies star, who announced her split from Phillippe in 2006, continued, admitting that she still doesn't know what led her ex to say the seemingly judgemental comment.
On the subject of women and pay, the Oscar winner opened up about the shame women are often made to feel as a result of their success.
'There's so few women that make a lot of money that sometimes they're shamed for it, and sometimes they are expected to give more and do more and be more to others in the same position that, say, a male movie star would not be expected to,' she continued. 'But I do think gender norms have changed quite a bit since that moment in 2000 or something.'
Witherspoon has since ensured that her and Phillippe's daughter, Ava Phillippe, knows the importance of financial independence.
Later in the podcast, the Little Fires Everywhere star recalled a moment when the ex couple's now-21-year-old daughter came home from school after being told by a classmate that her mother was 'one of the highest-paid actress in Hollywood' - a statement that lead her to feeling 'so embarrassed'.
Witherspoon said she taught her daughter to never 'feel ashamed of a woman making money'.
She added: 'There are women all over this world who don't have an opportunity or an education or the ability to make money. And the more women who make more money, will give more money away, will take care of their societies, will take care of their communities, will do more with that money. So don't ever feel bad about your mom making money, and don't ever feel bad if you make money, and don't be embarrassed or ashamed if its more than your partner.'
The Hollywood producer concluded her sentiment on gender equality, noting that she has 'an interesting relationship with the word "power", and all I can think of is I just hope in my lifetime, I can help more women make more money.
'Financial stability is freedom.'
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