On the subject of women, and especially women in Hollywood today, she has some very firm ideas that she doesn’t hesitate to air. And although she won’t mention any of the starlets by name, anyone who has watched The Simple Life or Newlyweds wouldn’t have a hard time guessing.
“There is something in the zeitgeist right now about women wanting to portray themselves as stupid,” Witherspoon says. “I don’t know if these women are actresses or singers or whatever they are, but I know they’re not stupid.
“The thing that worries me most is that this generation of young women hasn’t been fully taught about the strides made by the women’s movement in the not-so-distant pastthe struggle for votes or to be recognized for legitimate opinions,” she continues. “It irritates me that the sort of fad that ‘stupidity is cute’ might really be doing some serious damage. It’s the cheap answer, and let’s hope that their moment fades. Sorry, but I have a little girl.”
At a time when informed and impassioned celebrities like George Clooney and Sean Penn are using their position in the public eye to talk about the direction of the country, the otherwise outspoken Witherspoon is notably elusive, even cagey, when the subject of politics comes up. “Obviously I have a set of political beliefs. I just don’t believe in talking about them publicly,” she says. “I’ll vote, and I’ll talk to my friends. Truthfully, my opinion is not more important than anyone else’s. I’m just an actor, and if I had some really strong political conviction I’d run for office. We all have the right to have a voice, but it’s mixed messages when you’re selling movies and politics.”
Would she ever really consider running? After all, Elle Woods traveled to Washington in Legally Blonde 2.
“Yeah, I would,” she says. “I just think there’s not enough strong political female figures. Hillary [Clinton] is the closest to representing the things I believe in, though I don’t align with her on every issue. I’m just saying that I wish there was someone out there who represented more of my ideas.”
Senator Witherspoon does have a nice ring to itthough women who share the actress’s distinctive blend of traditionalism, feminism and religious faith may have to wait a while before she pulls an Arnold Schwarzenegger: There are plenty more films to produce and star in (Penelope will begin shooting early this year), an award or two to win, and perhaps even another baby to raise. Meanwhile, there’s Geena Davis on the tube in Commander in Chief, a show Witherspoon calls “terrific.”