2006 Spring—Oral Training for Sophomores

Jo Ho (A210, Office Hours: Wed. 2pm-5pm)


Interview: Reese Witherspoon

Oprah: Carly Wu (吳怡慧)

Witherspoon: Cherrie Lo (羅伊廷)


Welcome to Oprah’s Pop Teenager.  Today we have a special guest, Reese Witherspoon, the winner of Best Actress Award in this year’s Oscar!   The title may be sparkling, but as you will see, she can be that ordinary.  Pursuing her dream, Reese knocked on the door of Hollywood, and success came after the movie Legally Blonde, which was a huge box office smash hit.  The high tide of her career came again in 2006 with the best actress award for her role as June Carter in Walk the Line.  In her real life, Reese plays the roles of a working mom of two kids, a wife, and an ordinary woman.  Today, we will try to see what Reese Witherspoon is like behind the screen.

Oprah: Welcome, Reese Witherspoon. You dressed quite ordinarily today. I thought you’d dress like Elle Woods.

Reese Witherspoon: Why?

Oprah: Well, because there are many of your young fans here.  I thought you would dress like a teenager.  So you are dressing like June Carter today? 

R: Actually, I am dressing like…April Carter.

O: Ha- that’s funny.  Ok, let’s start with your education.  Before you started your performing career, you studied literature at Stanford for a year.  Now, you have been away from school for 11 years, do you ever think of going back to school?

R: No, I am just not that kind of a person.  I learn so much with my kids.  I read tons of books and study what they are studying.  And you know, life is a constant learning experience anyway.   don’t really miss school that much.

O: What is your parents’ attitude toward you dropping out of school?  id they support your decision?

R: Yes, they support whatever I do.  hey are proud of me whether I am making a movie or making a bed.

O: Do you want your children to be actors too when they grow up

R: I want them to be whatever they want to be after they are 18.

O: What does “18” specifically mean to you?

R: It means maturity.  You have more time to think over your plans or your future. Choices in life are many.  How to choose wisely will take time.  I’d say that being an actress is a kind of decision made with an understanding of life.

O: Yeah, that really goes back to what you said about “life is a constant learning experience.”  If you have more time, you may prepare yourself better for the difficulties in life.  In your case, have you encountered any hard times in your career so far?  Elle Woods in Legally Blonde was slighted for her feminine characteristics.  Have you ever met people who think acting and talent don’t go together?

R: People assume that actresses aren’t very smart and don’t have any thing interesting to say.  That’s been a struggle for me to try and assert my opinions on things.  Also sometimes being a woman doesn’t help when you are on a set with a lot of people who don’t think that you have a lot to say.

O: You have gone on the record saying that you are sick of the trend among young women to act as if it is cute to stupid.  Why are you sick of it?  Some people take it as a strategy to sell themselves on TV?

R: Well, our mothers, our grandmothers and the women that came before us fought so hard to overcome the stereotype of women being not smart enough to vote, not smart to receive higher education, not smart to have a good job.  But many young women just go out in a very public way and say, “you know what, I don’t care what they achieved.  I am just going to be stupid and that’s cute.”   I don’t think it’s a good message for young women.  Like Elle Woods, people think that she is pretty yet brainless, but I think she is really someone.

O:  How about June Carter in Walk the Line?  Her life was quite different from other women of her time too.  What do you think about her?

R: I think she was a very modern woman.  She didn’t try to comply with social conventions.  That is what makes her remarkable.

O: You have your own production company now, right?  What does that business mean to you besides your career as an actress?

R: Being able to create opportunities for myself and other women who work in this industry, I take that cause pretty seriously.  A lot of people say there’s nothing for women, but I like to try and do something about the problem, instead of whinning about it.

O: I believe that there are many people who are curious about your life.

R: Yes, especially the paparazzi.

O: You have now two careers and two kids and one family to take care of.  Is it hard for you to juggle careers and two kids at the same time?

R: Surprisingly, not as difficult as it seems.  You have to have a sort of “Things will all work out” attitude.

O: I’ve heard some people saying that you are driven.  Are you a perfectionist?

R: I don’t believe in perfection, I don’t think there is such a thing.  But the energy of wanting things to be great is perfectionist energy.

O: Let’s talk about your singing part in the movie, Walk the Line.  I’ve heard that you once begged to get out of it.  Was that true?

R: Yes, it was true.  I called my attorney, my agent, and my manager.  I said, “I’ve got to get out of this.  Can’t they call LeAnn Rimes?  She is good.  They are plenty of people doing this for a living.  I am just an actress!”

O: Haha, glad that you did not give up the chance.  So—after Oscar, what kind of hope do you  now have for your career in the future?

R: I hope for more complex roles like June Carter Cash, and I hope to have more opportunities to do more good work and create more female characters that are real to me—who have flaws and challenges.

O: I am sure there will be many, many opportunities for you.

O: As our show is coming to an end, do you have anything to tell the audience?  I know there are many, many young girls who take you as their model after watching Legally Blonde.  So any sparks of thought for them?

R:  People used to ask June Carter how she was doing and she used to say, ‘I am just trying to matter.’  I know that she means “I am just trying to matter and live a good life, and create work that means something to somebody. You have all made me feel that I have accomplished that with your recognition.”  

O: Thank you, Reese Witherspoon. Thank you for spending time with us.

R: Thank you!

O: This has been Oprah’s Pop Teenager.  Thank you for watching.  See you next week.