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Reese Witherspoon Says ‘Wild’ Caused Panic Attacks for Weeks: ‘Changed Me on Cellular Level’

"I don’t know if I’ll ever work that hard again," Witherspoon said about her Oscar-nominated film.

Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"

Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Fox Searchlight. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett

Reese Witherspoon joined Tracee Ellis Ross for a conversation in the latest Interview magazine (via Insider) and revealed she suffered three weeks of panic attacks leading into the production of “Wild.” Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, the film casts Witherspoon as a broken woman who pieces her life together by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Witherspoon earned acclaim for her performance and Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actress.

“I was so scared to do that,” Witherspoon said when naming “Wild” the biggest acting challenge of her career. “I had hypnosis, I was so scared. I was having panic attacks for three weeks before I started. There was the nudity, sexuality, and drug-use aspect, but also being alone on camera with no other actors. I hadn’t ever been alone in scenes for days and days. There were probably 25 days of the shoot where I had no other actor opposite me. It was just me and a camera and a backpack. I was like, ‘Is this going to be so boring?'”

Witherspoon continued, “And Cheryl Strayed’s book was so beautiful and sacred to me because it spoke to me so deeply about how we as women have to save ourselves. There’s no mother or father coming to save us. There’s no spouse. I thought it was radical that at the end of the film, she ends up with no family, no money, no job, no partner, and she’s happy.”

“Wild” opened in 2014, world premiering at the Telluride Film Festival, and Witherspoon said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever work that hard again, but it changed me on a cellular level.”

Witherspoon would reunite with Vallée on the first season of “Big Little Lies,” which pivoted her career from film to television with critical and commercial success. Witherspoon now appears on the Apple TV+ drama “The Morning Show,” returning in September for its second season.

“TV is a bigger commitment than I’ve ever experienced,” Witherspoon told Ross. “I just finished season two of ‘The Morning Show’ and I’ve never worked that long on a project in my whole career. I started when I was 43 and we’re wrapping when I’m 45.”

Head over to Interview magazine’s website to read Witherspoon and Ross’ conversation in its entirety.

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