Reese Witherspoon recalls riding the roller coaster of being a young Hollywood star under the male gaze.
The founder of the production company Hello Sunshine said so Harper’s Bazaar how the infamous 1996 erotic thriller ‘Fear’ – released when she was 20 – partly inspired her to change her career to become an ‘agent for change’ for women in Hollywood.
Witherspoon unpacked the iconic roller coaster scene where her character is touched by the sinister love interest, played by Mark Wahlberg. Witherspoon noted that he requested a stunt double for the below-the-waist scenes; the film was directed by James Foley.
“I had no control over it,” Witherspoon said. “It wasn’t explicit in the script that that was going to happen, so it was something that I think the director came up with for himself and then asked me on set if I would do it, and I said no. It wasn’t a particularly good experience.
Witherspoon continued, “I’m certainly not traumatized by it or anything, but it was formative. He made me understand my place in the pecking order of cinema. I think it’s another one of those stories that made me want to be an agent for change and someone who maybe can be in a better leadership position to tell stories from a female perspective instead of a male gaze.
The “Legally Blonde 3” star recalled how becoming a mother at age 22 impacted her creative decisions, noting that she realized “something had to change” about the roles she was taking.
“Who do I want my daughter to see? I really want to be a woman that she looks up to,” Witherspoon said. “I’ve been working on it a lot.”
She added, “I got ‘Election’ and made Tracy Flick, and ended up being on ‘Pleasantville,’ which was amazing. (My daughter) Ava asked me the other day where I come up with these characters, like Tracy Flick, Elle Woods and (Melanie Smooter from) ‘Sweet Home Alabama.‘ I created them all over the span of five, six years when I was in my 20s. Sometimes I look back and go, ‘How the hell did I do that?’”
Witherspoon will reprise her role as Tracy Flick for a sequel to “Election,” titled “Tracy Flick Can’t Win.” Alexander Payne will write and direct a sequel to the 1999 dark comedy, with Tracy Flick now a hardworking but frustrated assistant principal at a public high school in New Jersey, where she is still fighting for the best job. The original 1999 film also starred Matthew Broderick and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay based on the novel by Tom Perrotta.