Reese Witherspoon, 47, and Jennifer Aniston, 50, have been Friends for decades, but Witherspoon reveals that she was totally intimidated by Aniston and her guest role on Friends before she met her. In an interview conducted by her good friend Natalie Portman for Harper’s Bazaar, she discusses overcoming that fear, and how the pair collaborated on a nuanced portrayal of #MeToo in The Morning Show.
Witherspoon reveals: “We met on the set of Friends; I played her sister. I was 23 years old and had just had a baby. I was nursing Ava on set, and Jen just kept going, ‘You have a baby?’ I was like, ‘I know, it’s weird.'”
She adds that Aniston was always “really sweet” to her and calmed her jitters: “I was really nervous, and she was like, ‘Oh, my gosh — don’t worry about it!’ I marveled at her ability to perform in front of a live audience like that with no nerves. They would change all the lines and she was just so effortlessly affable, bubbly, and sunny.”
Witherspoon also reveals that the things that stress many of us out, don’t faze her. She said of doing a shoot with a spider on her face: “The spider didn’t scare me, but there was a snake at the photo shoot that did. This is going to sound weird, but I like insects and spiders. I was kind of a tomboy growing up. It grosses everybody out, but I like to pick up bugs.”
Aniston and Witherspoon can next be seen with Steve Carell in the Apple+ series The Morning Show, in which they portray two reporters dealing with fallout from #MeToo.
Witherspoon says that she and Aniston thought deeply about how to portray both sides of the #MeToo story: “As artists, we try to find the shreds of humanity in any crisis and open people’s minds to see all sides of things. What does it mean to be a person who loses their entire life? Their family. Their career. The #MeToo movement has been so emotional on all sides. I remember talking to women and holding them while they cried. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be the spouse or the child of one of these people who was exposed. With the men, we ask, Where is the contrition? How are they supposed to behave? We deal with all of these questions as the season goes on.”
She also says that she aims to elevate women in front of and behind the camera through her production company Hello Sunshine: “It’s about storytelling for women, by women, and about getting more women behind the camera. I do meetings in the morning while I’m getting my hair and makeup done. After that, the people who run my companies take over, and I focus on acting. Acting is still my core competency. It fills my tank. But my biggest priority is to take care of my kids. They’re getting older now—my daughter is in college, my older son is in high school, and my youngest is in first grade—so I have more free time than I used to. I try to get home for dinner at least four nights a week.”