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Reese Witherspoon: ‘I’m a complex human being’ with ‘different shades’

Reese Witherspoon covers the October issue of Vogue, talks about her edgy turn in "Wild."
(Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images)

Reese Witherspoon is yet again changing up her Southern belle image in her latest film, “Wild.”

The Oscar winner, who covers the October issue of Vogue, opened up to the magazine about what her raw portrayal of solo hiker Cheryl Strayed says about her and her career.

First off, she’s not perfect, despite what people believe about her or what “Legally Blonde” or “Walk the Line” may have led you to believe. In fact, her 2013 kerfuffle with police is just one example of that, the real Strayed told Vogue’s Tom Shone.

“She said to me, ‘When those things happen, it just proves what I’ve always been telling people, and that is I’m not perfect,’” Strayed told Shone about her meeting with the actress. “There’s nothing artificial about her. I think that’s what makes her such a spectacular actress and such a relatable movie star, too. Reese is one of us. She’s real people.”

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And it sounds as if Witherspoon prefers being labeled -- even by directors who believe she’s only “Southern and sweet and huge” -- because she likes to prove them wrong.

“When people underestimate me, it’s actually a comfortable place for me,” Witherspoon said. “‘Oh, that’s what you think I am; well, no, I’m not.’ I’m a complex human being. I have many different shades.”

There’s even a shade that includes the rap name Little Spoon, but that’s a whole other story...

The mother of three, who took matters into her own hands and created roles for herself when they weren’t coming along on their own, is behind the female-focused production company Pacific Standard, which is currently working on a comedy with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara. She also serves as a producer on “Wild” and on David Fincher and Ben Affleck’s dark adaptation of “Gone Girl.”

As for “Wild,” which hits theaters in December, the “sweet” actress portrays Strayed, an avid hiker who, reeling from the death of her mom, uses drugs and has lots of promiscuous sex. Witherspoon knew she wanted to play Strayed after reading her memoir, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” and finding herself in tears.

“I think people don’t know what to expect yet,” Witherspoon told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month when discussing the movie’s opening scene, which features a rapid cut of sexual images. “When you have that flash montage, it’s really quick, but it’s, like, ‘Oh, wait, this isn’t a white girl problems movie.’”

The actress told Vogue that studios wouldn’t back her edgy turn, so she carved the role out for herself -- but not without a bit of grooming. She had to have Strayed show her how to shoot heroin and enlisted a hypnotist to deal with her anxiety over the intense sex scenes.

“I just didn’t want to hear, ‘Oh, we don’t want to see Reese have sex ... Oh, can we not have any profanity?,’ ” she told the mag. “I wanted it to be truthful, I wanted it to be raw, I wanted it to be real.”

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As real as Elle Woods’ hair color. Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.


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