Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The strange banging-up of Reese Witherspoon

The Louisianan star, hitherto seen as a good girl, has been giving a state trooper some impressive lip.

Mon, Apr 22, 2013, 21:25



What is the greatest sin any celebrity can commit? Well, that’s a stupid question. Genocide or something like that, I suppose. Okay, what’s the most depressing thing any star can say after being pulled over the police? You’ve got it. We can forgive them falling drunkenly into the gutter. We can forgive their awful perfume range. But nothing can excuse the use of the phrase: “Do you know who I am?” Those weren’t Ms Witherspoon’s exact words. But the construction was close enough. After being pulled over by the police in Atlanta while driving with husband Joe Toth, she apparently barked: “Do you know my name?” Maybe she’d genuinely forgotten. No. She followed up with: “You’re about to find out who I am.” Reese then added, with genuine perception: ”You’re about to be on national news.” Apparently, State Trooper Pyland (who sounds impressively cool) replied “that’s fine”.

The real problems started when Reese refused to remain in the car. This is just priceless. Apparently, while Mr Toth was being questioned about his alcohol consumption, she leant out the car window and began bellowing that the trooper was not a real cop. “I told Mrs Witherspoon to sit on her butt and be quiet,” this superb individual added. After getting out of the car, she refused to back off and yelled that she was “a US citishen” and was, therefore, entitled to “shshshtand on American ground. Burp!” (My phonetic mischief and “Burp!”)

Both were arrested: Reese for disorderly conduct and Toth for driving under the influence.  ”I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said,” Witherspoon later admitted. “It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behaviour.”

You never can tell. Can you? To this point, most of us had regarded Reese as a good girl. To be fair, she hasn’t invaded Poland or strangled any kittens. But this is still a pretty impressive outbreak of old-school bad behaviour. The “I am entitled to stand on American ground” stuff suggests a 14-year-old middle-class nitwit who has yet to get his self-entitlement issues in order. The “do you know my name” crack is more worrying still. A few more flops like This Means War or Water for Elephants and that question will seem a great deal less rhetorical.

The good news for Witherspooners (We do call them that. Don’t we?) is that her next film is a cracker. Don’t miss Jeff Nichols’s Mud when it opens here next month. Let’s set this ugly business aside. Shall we?

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