Romantic comedies are nothing new for Reese Witherspoon, but her role in James L. Brooks’ new film, “How Do You Know,” presented some interesting challenges. “This character is a woman who has a hard time conveying her emotions — and doesn’t even really want to talk about things,” Witherspoon says of professional softball player, Lisa.
“The biggest challenge for me was she’s not verbal, and I’m used to playing really talkative characters — women who speak about their relationships and talk about love and dynamics and boys with their girlfriends,” the actress explains. “So that was a new character for me and really interesting.”
The film follows Lisa as her affections pinball between a commitment-phobic baseball player (Owen Wilson) and an honest-to-a-fault businessman (Paul Rudd). “It’s a tough job, ladies, but someone’s got to do it,” she says of working with Wilson and Rudd. “How lucky am I to work with two of the most talented, funny, attractive, hysterical men?” On set, Witherspoon found her own feelings mirroring that of her character, making it hard to choose between the two co-stars. “Every time we’d do a scene with Owen I’d get really attached to Owen, and then I go and do scenes with Paul and I felt like I was cheating on Owen,” she says.
While she’s not much of a jock herself, Witherspoon did find an angle on getting into the mind of a professional athlete, who face some of the same career limitations that can plague actresses in youth-obsessed Hollywood. “It’s sort of a parallel to being an actor — especially as a woman,” she says. “I mean, I don’t even know how I’m supposed to say this, but we have a time that is our time that we work, and we work a lot. And then hopefully you shift and you’re able to become the Meryl Streeps or the Diane Keatons or whatever and continue working.”