Kit Steinkellner
November 21, 2014 7:23 am

As anyone who has been within ten feet of the Internet lately knows, there’s been a lot of hubbub about Renee Zellweger and unfortunately it has NOT been about what an awesome actress she is. It was super obnoxious of the media to turn a woman’s face into a carnival sideshow attraction. The silver lining to this Dark Cloud of Dumbness came recently when Reese Witherspoon came to Renee Zellweger’s defense, an awesome example of women supporting women in an all-too-often unfriendly world.

At the annual Hollywood Reporter actress round table, the publication brought up that whole Renee-Zellweger’s-Face-Breaking-The-Internet-Thing, Witherspoon immediately spoke up on behalf of Zellweger.

“It’s horrible,” Witherspoon declared. “It’s cruel and rude and disrespectful, and I can go on and on and on. It bothers me immensely.”

Witherspoon definitely did not go on and on, but she did have a few more words to say re: the issue:

“I know this is so Pollyanna of me, but why — and it’s particularly women — why do they have to tear women down? And why do we have to tear other women down to build another woman up? It drives me crazy.”

That alone would have been enough to give Witherspoon a big round of applause for being a woman who believes in being awesome to other women. We have good reason to bump that applause up to a standing ovation b/c as it turns out, Witherspoon had lots of feminist-friendly things to say during this roundtable.

She was all about talking up the women she’s worked with (Cheryl Strayed, whom Witherspoon is playing in the upcoming “Wild” is “amazing and really lovely”) and the women she was round-tabling with (to Amy Adams: ” I’ve always admired your work and I just thought you were amazing last year in American Hustle. So brave and bare and just fearless, you know?” and to Julianne Moore  You’ve done so many brave things… I’d be so scared to do the things that you’ve done.”) Seriously, an interview is a thing where you basically just talk about yourself and Witherspoon turned it into an opportunity to give big ups to all these great women.

Also, during the roundtable, Reese talked about starting her film company in order to take a stand against industry sexism:

“… about three years ago, I started seeing this complete lack of interesting female leads in film. First I got mad, really mad. And then I was like,’It’s nobody’s fault; if you’re not proactive about things …’ I’d had a company before, but it was basically about trying to develop things that I would eventually be in. So I just switched the idea: If I can develop anything for any other women, I don’t care who it is; I just want my daughter to grow up seeing complex, interesting, nuanced women in film. So I started it with my own money — you know, the first thing people tell you is, ‘Don’t put your own money into anything’ — so I was like, is this really dumb? But I got a great partner [Bruna Papandrea] and the first two things I sent her were Gone Girl and Wild. And those were the first books that we optioned.”

Here’s to more actresses standing up for one another when the media steps out of line and calling out sexism and misogyny when they see it in action. And here’s to more cool roles for women in movies. We know Reese will deliver.

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