'See women as they are on film': Witherspoon

Producer- actress Reese Witherspoon (above) of the HBO series, Big Little Lies, at a press event in Pasadena, California, last Saturday.
Producer- actress Reese Witherspoon (above) of the HBO series, Big Little Lies, at a press event in Pasadena, California, last Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PASADENA • Reese Witherspoon, fed up with Hollywood gender bias, is calling for an end to the practice of handing excellent actresses only "thankless roles".

"I've just had enough. Things have to change," the actress said last Saturday during a press event in Pasadena, California. "We have to start seeing women as they really are on film. We have to. And not just in movie theatres on a tiny budget."

The new HBO series Big Little Lies, in which she stars alongside Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern, is directed by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee, who was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for Dallas Buyers Club (2013).

"We need to see real women's experience, whether it involves domestic violence, whether it involves sexual assault, whether it involves motherhood, romance, infidelity or divorce," said Witherspoon, 40.

Hollywood is regularly faulted for failing to give substantial roles to women, especially those older than 35.

In a report last year, the University of California, Los Angeles warned that women's place in the American film industry was slipping. It said women were under-represented, saw no employment gains in Hollywood compared with their male counterparts and suffered losses in eight of 11 job arenas examined while struggling in the other three.

The highly anticipated Big Little Lies, whose script is based on Liane Moriarty's eponymous novel, was written by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal and Goliath). It marks Witherspoon's first major role in a television production.

It airs from Feb 19. Witherspoon is also a producer. She has focused on films with women in the lead role, such as Gone Girl (2014).

She recalled having often been the only woman on set for years. "It's very rare to find five roles in one piece that we'd all jump at a chance to play," agreed Kidman.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline ''See women as they are on film': Witherspoon'. Print Edition | Subscribe