Driven to tears by her fans

Reese Witherspoon signing autographs

The latest issue of Vogue (don’t laugh; it’s my Bible, really) has a fascinating article about Reese Witherspoon and how she negotiates celebrity. As I read it, I was surprised how her feelings about fame match Welsey’s. (This is always gratifying, to know I’m on the right track.)

To tell the truth, I haven’t seen one of Ms. Witherspoon’s movies. But in my novel Welsey Shaw has made her share of “blonde comedies.” Seems few actresses can escape them. And like Welsey, Witherspoon has had to deal with a celebrity that crept up on her and then violently exploded, rendering anything resembling a normal life impossible. Note the bodyguard behind her in this photo, surely one of many. Oftentimes they even follow celebs into the bathroom at public events. Similarly, when celebs appear on the late night shows, pretending they’re just aw-shucks regular people, they are surrounded off-camera by bodyguards, who stand in the wings and in front of the rows of seats in case anyone tries to rush the stage.

Witherspoon says in the interview there have been times she’s sat in her car and literally cried because she can’t go outside to do normal things. I often try to imagine what this feels like—it was actually the impetus for this whole novel. Then I began wondering if it all was a bit naive. Would stars ensconced in their luxury really care that they couldn’t easily go to Applebee’s?

Apparently so.

Recently another celebrity, Keira Knightly, stated she likes to haunt cafes incognito to study people—and I was gratified to learn this because it’s another thing Welsey does. Think for a moment of what a strange life it must be to have millions of people who want a piece of you, who want to be friends with you, who want to be privy to your secrets…and you can never really connect with any of them, simply by virtue of your place, and theirs.

But you must pretend. That’s part of the job too. Witherspoon stresses she would not trade her fame, despite its inconveniences and frustrations. Still, she admits a big chunk of her life goes unfulfilled.

Read the complete interview with Reese Witherspoon here.


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