Reese Witherspoon opens up about becoming a mom at 22: ‘I was terrified’

Kerry Justich
·2 min read

Reese Witherspoon is opening up about becoming a mother at 22, telling longtime friend and fellow actress Drew Barrymore that she was “terrified” as she figured out how to balance work and motherhood at a young age.

On Barrymore’s new namesake talk show, the actress, now a mother of two herself, reflected on a time, early on in their careers, that she had called Witherspoon, realizing with a shock that Witherspoon had her two young children in the background. “I thought, god, I’m so far away from that. I would be so scared if somebody put two young kids in the back of my car and said just go and take them and feed them,” she said.

Witherspoon responded candidly, saying, “I was terrified, too.”

Attempting to explain to Barrymore how she balanced it all, Witherspoon added, “You just do it. I didn’t know if I was gonna have steady work, too. I wasn’t popular...I had made movies but I hadn’t established myself as someone who could demand that it shoot close to my kid’s school. I didn’t have any real power or leverage within my industry.”

At the time, Witherspoon had her daughter, Ava Phillippe, and son, Deacon Phillippe, with ex-husband actor Ryan Phillippe. The actress hadn’t yet released the film Legally Blonde by the time she had her daughter.

“I was just like every other mom trying to figure it out — and dad out there, and partner and grandparent who’s raising a child. There’s a lot of, first of all, compromise. You take the food out of your mouth, clothes off your back, the sleep out of your life,” she said. “But every bit of it, every bit of that sacrifice is truly worth it because you feel like that’s what makes me wake up on a Sunday. It’s not movies or my job, it’s my kids.”

Witherspoon and Barrymore were later pregnant at the same time when Witherspoon was expecting her youngest son, Tennesee Toth, with current husband Jim Toth, and Barrymore was pregnant with her first child, Olive Kopelman.

“We were both pregnant together at my wedding with our bumping bellies,” Barrymore reminisced. “The only two sober chicks there.”

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