A-list film star and former Oscar winner, Reese Witherspoon, may be one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses but her role as a mother is the one she prizes most, says Gabrielle Donnelly
Relaxed, cheerful and looking prettier than any 33-year-old working mother of two has a right to look, Reese Witherspoon is talking about her new film, the animated superheroes adventure, Monsters vs Aliens.
“I play a 50 foot-tall woman, which is thrilling because I’m only 5ft 2!” she laughs, glancing down at her petite frame. “So I get to gain 45 feet, that’s a bonus. I’m very proud of this movie, it’s the first animated movie to be made in 3D, which is exciting. It’s also one of the first animations to have a female lead. So young girls out there can at last go to the cinema and see this awesome superhero monster, kicking butt, going after the bad guy, saving her friends, saving the world… and she’s a girl! So that’s very cool!”
It’s nice to see Reese smiling again. She’s a lovely young woman who has been through a rough time, and if anyone deserves a little sunshine in her life, it’s her. In October 2006, she and her husband of seven years, actor Ryan Phillippe, announced their decision to separate – a difficult time in anyone’s life and, in Reese’s case, made all the worse because it was surrounded by rumours of Ryan’s infidelity with Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Ryan and Abbie both denied it at the time, but have since started openly dating). Then followed a year that Reese has since described as “difficult and frightening,” during which the former spouses wrangled over child custody arrangements while both coming to terms in private with their new situations.
Slowly, though, the bad times have receded. Custody has been amicably settled and little Ava, 9, and Deacon, 5, (pictured with their mother over the page) are getting used to their parents not being together. Reese has even found love again – with a tall and handsome actor you might just have heard of called Jake Gyllenhaal, who she met when they co-starred in the 2007 thriller, Rendition. They started dating in secret almost immediately, and Reese is now, at last, becoming comfortable with acknowledging him as the man in her life.
She herself is the first to admit it’s been a rollercoaster of a time. But, she adds, it’s one she’s learnt a lot from, too. “You have got to keep focused on the good,” she says now, firmly. “I used to be a bit of a perfectionist, to think that you grew up, you got married, you had two kids and that was the way things were, that you would be like that forever. However, it didn’t work out like that for me, and there were times back there where I was thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get through this,’ you know? But everybody has experiences like that, and sometimes out of the chaos and the difficult times come great things, and these are the things you have to look at. In many ways, I’m blessed.”
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