“It changed who I was on a cellular level”: Reese Witherspoon Opens up on Toxic Relationship That Could’ve Ruined Her Oscar Adorned Career

Reese Witherspoon made an intimate revelation about her toxic past, which took a toll on her self-esteem as a teen.

Reese Witherspoon Opens up on Toxic Relationship That Could’ve Ruined Her Oscar Adorned Career


  • Prior to becoming a Hollywood biggie, Reese Witherspoon found herself stuck in an abusive relationship in her youth.
  • Witherspoon wasn't the same person after she eventually called it quits, which kickstarted her ascend to the top.
  • Her past struggle with abuse was the major reason that pushed Witherspoon to produce the critically acclaimed Big Little Lies.
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Reese Witherspoon has come a long way from once working in commercials as a kid to being the recipient of several major accolades, including an Academy Win for Best Actress. Since her rise to prominence following the success of 2001’s Legally Blonde, Witherspoon hasn’t looked back, as she scored another Emmy nod for 2023’s Daisy Jones & The Six, in which she served as a producer.

However, the years leading to her eventual ascend in Hollywood were less-than-stellar, as the actor opened up about finding herself trapped in an abusive relationship in her youth.

Also read: Even Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon Could Not Save This High Budget Comedy Movie That Lost $70.4 Million After Awful Box Office Run

Reese Witherspoon | Oscars
Reese Witherspoon | Oscars

Standing Up for Herself Changed Reese Witherspoon on a Cellular Level

During her appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, Reese Witherspoon made an intimate revelation about her life after she was asked to detail her “most difficult decision”. Recounting the traumatic experience, Witherspoon recalled being stuck in an abusive relationship, which led to her self-esteem plummeting as a teen. But she eventually called it quits and stood up for herself after the line was crossed, which Witherspoon said changed her “on a cellular level”. She recalled,


“A line got drawn in the sand, and it got crossed, and my brain just switched, and I knew it was going to be very difficult, but I just couldn’t go any further. But it was profound, and I was young. Really young. … I was a different person too. It changed who I was on a cellular level, the fact that I stood up for myself. … Leaving those situations [isn’t] easy because it’s wrought with self-doubt, particularly if someone damages your self-esteem. … I didn’t have self-esteem, you know? And I’m a different person now.”

While Witherspoon refused to name her abuser, this didn’t stop fans from speculating, as her ex-partner Ryan Phillippe, who was accused of domestic violence by Elsie Hewitt, also came into suspicion. But considering the Legally Blonde Star stressed that she was a teen when the abuse ensued, it’s very much possible it occurred prior to her relationship with Phillippe.

Also read: Reese Witherspoon Refuses To Spoil Hit Jennifer Aniston Series ‘The Morning Show’: “I don’t know if I’m in trouble”

Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon’s Past Struggles Served as the Motivation to Do Big Little Lies

Reese Witherspoon’s struggle with abuse in the past ultimately pushed her to produce the HBO hit Big Little Lies, which took a nuanced look at how domestic abuse can stay hidden from the public eye. Following the impressive acting from everyone involved, especially Nicole Kidman, accompanied by impeccable storytelling, it helped kickstart a conversation about the topic that is often avoided.


“There wasn’t a woman there that hadn’t been affected by abuse,” Witherspoon said of working on the show.

Also read: “Man, I am so pro-woman”: Reese Witherspoon Was Left “Flummoxed” At the Oscars Stage After Her Ex-Husband’s Ill-Timed Unscripted Jab Aimed At Her

Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies

Had the Oscar winner never stood up for herself, things could’ve been astronomically different, which conveys the message that no matter psychological or physical, no form of abuse should be tolerated.

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Written by Santanu Roy

Articles Published: 1540

Santanu Roy is a film enthusiast with a deep love for the medium of animation while also being obsessed with The Everly Brothers, Billy Joel, and The Platters. Having expertise in everything related to Batman, Santanu spends most of his time watching and learning films, with Martin Scorsese and Park Chan-wook being his personal favorites. Apart from pursuing a degree in animation, he also possesses a deep fondness for narrative-driven games and is currently a writer at Fandomwire with over 1500 articles.