Even After Gone Girl, Reese Witherspoon Says Her Company Was Broke And Barely Hanging On

Reese Witherspoon in Wild
(Image credit: (Fox Searchlight))

Reese Witherspoon has been a huge Hollywood star for the past thirty years, but within the past six years the actress has also established herself as a key producer in the industry, with Oscar-nominated movies Wild and Gone Girl and the buzzy series Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere. As Witherspoon has now explained, even her status didn’t stop her production company from running into bumps along the road. In her words:

It took me three successes for people to say, ‘OK, that’s a real thing; she is a real producer.’ Even after we did our first two movies, Gone Girl and Wild, we weren’t making any money. I could barely keep the company open. It wasn’t this economic boom until I started doing more audience engagement through book clubs and getting on Instagram and promoting women’s stories. People don’t want to see the same 20 people making movies over and over again with the same 20 actors.

Can you believe this? Gone Girl and Wild were major films for Reese Witherspoon to tackle early in creating her own empire, yet somehow it wasn’t enough for the actress to establish herself in the new sector of the industry right away. If you remember, at one point Gone Girl was so influential it was part of the Best Picture conversation during award season. It wasn’t until Big Little Lies took off three years later that Witherspoon felt she was being taken seriously as a producer.

An important element to her success was engaging more with the public by promoting her book club for Hello Sunshine and opening up to more audiences about the intentions of her work. In the past couple years, Reese Witherspoon’s hold on Hollywood cannot be ignored now that Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere have also become big hits.

Reese Witherspoon’s discussion about her production company’s rise comes during a recent conversation with Watchmen’s Regina King for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. During the interview, the actresses spoke about how motherhood affected their decisions to become more involved behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. Witherspoon was hungry to have her daughter (who is now 20 years old) see women on screen far more complex than the girlfriend or wife. As she explained:

I think there’s such an alignment between a lot of women of our generation. We do not want to leave this business the way we found it… but now we have the ability with the emergence of television and streaming and all these emerging technologies that are looking for fresh perspectives and new voices. Now we know – there’s data that our audience is there. It used to be this guessing game.

Reese Witherspoon has of course been working closely with talents such as Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and Kerry Washington to develop female-led stories defined by women who have not been given a voice before. When Reese was approaching her ‘40s years ago, she was told by her financial analyst to “start saving” because she'd be losing money in her middle age. The actress fired him after those comments and began a new chapter of her career.

Next up, the actress will be returning to play Elle Woods for Legally Blonde 3. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates on Hollywood actors and their projects.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.