The actress hadn’t been taught about other sexual orientations as a child.
As a result of never being taught about other sexual orientations as a child, Reese Witherspoon didn’t “understand” what homosexuality was until she moved to Los Angeles.
During Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Reese and her Legally Blonde 2 co-star, Regina King, spoke with each other, and touched upon the topic of Reese’s recent miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere. Reese said it allowed her to look back to the 1990s and think about conversations her parents or grandparents had had with her on topics like race and class and sexuality.
However, she explained: “No one spoke to me about sexuality when I was a teenager.I didn’t understand what homosexuality was. My grandparents didn’t explain it; my parents didn’t explain it. I had to learn from somebody I met on an audition in Los Angeles.”
After Regina expressed shock at what Reese had said, Reese added: “We incorporated some of the conversation I had with my grandmother afterward. She said: ‘Homosexuality is very rare, Reese. That’s not a thing that happens very often.’ And we put it in the script.”
The actress grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and in previous interviews she has described the conservative-minded culture that she grew up in. “I grew up, obviously, in the South and there is amazing, wonderful connectivity and people are loving and communitive,” she said in a 2006 interview.
“But there is a tiny aspect of it, people [that] use parts of the Bible in order to express their intolerance and their hate and they manipulate it.”
Reese also paid tribute to Lynn Shelton, who died in May and had directed episodes of Little Fires Everywhere. “Lynn spent so much time with the teenage kids, making them feel comfortable,” she recalled.
And praising the bisexual indie film director, she said: “She also was a visionary herself, and made so many movies without listening to what people told her she could or couldn’t do.
“She got so many independent films financed; she worked for so many incredible actors; she did so many television shows. She’s so beloved in our Hollywood community, and I hope that — I just send love to her family.
“And know that her work will always live on in the hearts of so many people who were touched by her kindness and her artistry.”