Reese Witherspoon Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies' Reese Witherspoon on How the HBO Project Broke Her Out of Hollywood's 'Smurfette Syndrome'

Nearly three decades of working in male-dominated Hollywood left Reese Witherspoon feeling blue. And then Big Little Lies — HBO’s seven-part dark comedy — came along.

“For 25 years, I’ve been the only woman on set, so I had no other women to talk to,” Witherspoon lamented Saturday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “They call it ‘Smurfette Syndrome.’ Because she’s got a hundred Smurfs around her and she’s the only girl. And who gave birth to all those Smurfs, anyway? But, honestly, it’s so refreshing to get to spend time with women.”

Witherspoon’s desire to employ women both in front of and behind the camera is what led her to option Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel (she’s also an exec producer on the HBO miniseries, as is co-star Nicole Kidman). “Things have to change — we have to start seeing women as they really are,” the Oscar winner shared. “We have to see real women’s experience. Whether it involves domestic violence, whether it involves sexual assault, whether it involves motherhood or romance or infidelity or divorce. We need to see these things.

“We learn from art, and what can you do if you never see it reflected?” she continued. “[I’m tired of seeing] women of incredible talent playing wives and girlfriends in thankless parts. I’d just had enough. So it’s a unique privilege to be able to come to other women with a piece of material that I feel deeply proud of.”

Witherspoon went on to call the Big Little Lies cast, which also includes Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz, “the greatest ensemble I’ve ever [worked with].”

Big Little Lies debuts Feb. 19 on HBO. Watch the full-length trailer below. 

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  1. Sassette says:

    I’m, someone really needs to school Reese on what being compared to Smurfette really means. Picture a village with 100 horny men and only one female. The words “loose”, “blue balls”, and “gangbang” come to mind…😂

  2. Trueblue says:

    Hey, what about Sassette Smurfling?

    Also, the male smurfs were delivered by the stork.

  3. Anne says:

    She’s fantastic. I love how she’s pushing so hard for women’s stories and using her influence to get them told. I’ll support her all the way.

  4. DJ Doena says:

    What does she mean by “the only woman on set”? I’ve seen many of her movies and she’s always surrounded by female co-stars.

    “Whether it involves domestic violence, whether it involves sexual assault, whether it involves motherhood or romance or infidelity or divorce.”

    let me guess: We need to see that happening TO women. Not BY women. Right?

  5. Luffy says:

    The irony in this statement about women playing about mothers or girlfriends\wives and the show is literally all about that. As much respect as I have for Reese Witherspoon for her statement, maybe she should support more projects like the ones she talked about. I do understand how women in the industry find it hard to find at Reese and Nicole’s age and not get cast in motherly roles. I don’t hate Reese or any of the women on this show (I’m excited for it actually). They just need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.