Reese Witherspoon Reveals She Wanted To Quit Walk The Line, The Movie She Won An Oscar For

Over 16 years ago, Reese Witherspoon took to the Academy Awards stage to accept her Oscar for playing June Carter Cash in Walk The Line alongside Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash. While looking back at her career thus far recently, the actress shared that ahead of being showered with accolades for the biopic, she wasn’t convinced she could do the singer justice. 

When Reese Witherspoon was a guest on the ReThinking With Adam Grant podcast, the actress spoke about turning imposter syndrome into confidence through her experience in Hollywood over the years. When asked about the moments for her when she was afraid of trying, Witherspoon went immediately to Walk The Line, saying this: 

Every day I wanted to quit. Every day I got pain in my stomach thinking ‘I’m going to be terrible. I’m going to have to get up on this stage in front of 100s of people and I’m going to sound awful.’ Or ‘I’m not going to be able to do it.’

Witherspoon said Walk the Line was especially daunting for her because it was about a real person and involved her singing and playing instruments amongst other things. She also said this: 

I tried [to quit] every way. I called my lawyer and was like ‘get me out of this.’ I told the director I can’t do it anymore.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Reese Witherspoon pushed through the discomfort and ultimately embodied June Carter in a memorable way. She continued: 

Seven months of rehearsals, and probably every day. I cried so much during rehearsals. I was just scared about not being good enough. And then I realized I had to be the best I could be. I was never going to be June Carter Cash, I was never going to be a perfect musician, I was never going to play the autoharp perfectly, or the guitar perfectly. I was just going to show up and do the very best of my ability. There was a reason somebody thought I could do it and I was not going to give up trying. I’ll always try.

The country music movie remains memorable to this day for audiences and fans of the Cash singers, but Reese Witherspoon will always remember almost giving up on the project. The actress specifically cited their first performance in front of 200 extras, which she was “terrified” to do. Despite her fear, she talked herself into it and it “all worked out,” as she put it. 

Witherspoon also recalled fear popping up for 2014’s Wild, for which she received an Oscar nomination. Because it was a rare woman vs. nature story, again about a real person, she felt pressure to get it right and she pushed through not feeling good enough. It’s comforting to hear a big star like Reese Witherspoon has those “I can’t do it” moments, and her decision to go after something that scared her really paid off. 

Following James Mangold’s first biopic, the actress has created her own production company in Hello Sunshine, which most recently put out From Scratch on Netflix to trending success. Witherspoon is also set to star and produce in Netflix rom-com Your Place Or Mine alongside Ashton Kutcher, which is among 2023’s movie releases

Witherspoon will also continue Elle Woods story with Legally Blonde 3, which still has a script in the works from Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor. Let her recent words about Walk The Line remind us all to just go ahead and do the thing that scares us the most. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.