Reese Witherspoon has spoken out about sexism in Hollywood in a cover story with UK Harper’s Bazaar magazine. The actress, who is currently earning Oscar buzz for her role in the adaption of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir about trekking the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild, is having none of Hollywood’s stereotyping.
'Don’t put me in that box. Or any box, for that matter. People are complex, on-screen and off. Can’t we do justice to that?' she told the magazine.
For Witherspoon, her role Wild - which she also co-produced – is a long way out of her comfort zone. Exactly where she wants to be in her career right now,
'It wasn’t as if there was a lack of roles being offered to me. It was the dynamic aspect of playing a really interesting, complicated person that was not readily available. Honestly, I don’t know a woman who isn’t complicated. It’s strange that you don’t see many complicated women on film; complicated meaning complex, I should say,' she said.
Portraying the essayist and author Strayed, who hiked solo for 95 days through the wilderness in order to gain some control back in her life following the breakdown of her marriage, an addiction to heroin and the loss of her mother, was a challenge for Witherspoon with its sex and drug scenes.
'I’ve never done drugs, so I was really confused. I didn’t know what I was doing. It just required being in a really raw emotional place that didn’t feel good,' said Witherspoon.
It’s not the first time that Witherspoon has spoken out about sexism in the film industry. She founded her own production company to do something about how 'mad' she felt about in 2012.
'I'd had a company before, but it was basically about trying to develop things that I would eventually be in. So I just switched the idea: If I can develop anything for any other women, I don't care who it is; I just want my daughter to grow up seeing complex, interesting, nuanced women in film. So I started it with my own money…'she said at a Hollywood Reporter round table earlier this year.
Witherspoon, who also recently optioned the rights to Lynne Moriarty's bestselling Big Little Lies, isn’t the only celebrity speaking out about creating diverse and complex roles for women.
In 2012 the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media reported its findings on women in the media and concluded that women have less time on screen and are less likely to be protagonists, and more likely to be seen merely as decoration.
Witherspoon, who was able to cast herself in the role of Cheryl Strayed joins a list of women who created interesting roles for themselves that includes Mindy Kaling and Rashida Jones.
Earlier this year celebrated director Jane Campion slammed inherent sexism in Hollywood saying,
"There is some inherent sexism in the industry …Time and time again we don't get our share of representation,” she said at the time.
Here’s to Reese, Jane, Geena and co leading the charge to change this.