December 12, 2023 Admin Comments Off on Work Wives: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon Unpack ‘Morning Show’ Twists, Space Travel and Messy Romances

“We knew this season was different.”

That’s how “The Morning Show” star and executive producer Reese Witherspoon begins Variety’s conversation about the third season of the Apple TV+ series. Co-star (and fellow executive producer) Jennifer Aniston adds, “It had a different shape to it.”

In their first interview after the SAG-AFTRA strike — and the day of the Critics’ Choice nominations — Witherspoon and Aniston dissect Season 3’s wild twists and turns, which include a trip to space with Jon Hamm’s billionaire character Paul Marks, as well as a Jan. 6 insurrection storyline.

The two have known each other for more than 20 years, and as Aniston puts it: “We’re partners. We’re friends. We’re girlfriends, and we share all sorts of heartbreaks in life and love and everything.” To that end, when she begins crying while speaking about the death of her “Friends” co-star Matthew Perry, Witherspoon immediately grabs Aniston’s hand, and doesn’t let go for the rest of the conversation.

At the beginning of each season, do you know everything that’s to come for your characters? Specifically, Reese, did you know the insurrection plot that would be the linchpin of your character Bradley’s arc?

Reese Witherspoon: I knew I had this secret that was going to get revealed by the end. When Charlotte Stoudt came in — this is her first season at “The Morning Show” — she pitched out the whole thing: the hack; Paul Marks coming in to take over; Alex [played by Aniston] wanting a position of power on the board; my character hiding this Jan. 6 secret.
Jennifer Aniston: It’s such a collaboration, and we are able to say if we felt like it wasn’t going in a great direction. That’s the fun of what we do together, having that open line of communication.

How did you react when you heard that the premiere would include a trip to space?

Aniston: Wow. Going into space, huh? Personally, I was like, “I would never do that! You’ve got to be out of your freaking mind!”
Witherspoon: I would never do that either!

It appeared to fans that you were in far fewer scenes together this season. Reading your faces, is that not how it seemed to you?

Witherspoon: We do have two different storylines, so if we did everything together it’d be like, we’d never sleep. It’d be like I work the day shift, and you work the night shift. I do hear that people’s favorite scenes are when we’re together.
Aniston: I know, it’s just hard to put it into each other’s storylines because they’re separate. Unless I was popping up in your and Julianna [Margulies]’s bed, like, “Hi, can I get you some coffee?”

You’ve worked together a long time. How would you describe your working and personal relationship?

Aniston: We’ve been in each other’s lives for 20-something years. It’s just in our DNA that we are collaborators. We’re partners. We’re friends. We’re girlfriends, we share all sorts of heartbreaks in life and love and everything.
Witherspoon: There’s a comfort to that. It’s just mutual respect and years of experience. And I think we’re both incredulous that we’re both still kicking around! That we’re still working at this level is such a privilege. It’s an honor to get to contribute to something that’s really speaking about the world we live in nowadays.
Aniston: That’s what we wanted to do: Make a show that said something and to show the conversations that happen behind closed doors.

Bradley’s life ended in shambles — Laura has broken up with her, she’s turned herself in to the FBI for concealing evidence that her brother was a Jan. 6 insurrectionist.

Witherspoon: She’s made a mess of her life! Everyone keeps asking me, “Does she go to jail?” We don’t know anything!

There were nearly two full years between Seasons 2 and 3. Will there be a big time jump in Season 4?

Witherspoon: I think so, just because it takes us so long. They write for so long, and have brand new storylines that are happening. I think we’re a little behind in time, too.
Aniston: And our show tends to mirror what is actually happening in the world.
Witherspoon: Yeah, so as things come up while they’re writing, they’ll put them into the story.

Is there a discussion of adding the Israel-Hamas war next season?

Witherspoon: It has not come up.

OK. Given that Bradley is likely going to prison, could she be on air again?

Witherspoon: From prison?

Well, I was thinking after!

Witherspoon: It’s far-fetched, but in this day and age, honestly, nothing surprises me anymore — except murder.

Let’s talk about Alex and Paul. They had a passionate and, dare I say, sweet romance until she found out that he was a snake.

Aniston: But was he? Or was that just his nature? I don’t think he felt that it was intentional. He just is who he is. But that was fun. I’ve known the Hammanator for a long, long time.
Witherspoon: How did y’all meet?
Aniston: Paul Rudd! 12 years ago?
Witherspoon: Paul Rudd is his agent. I’m not kidding! I did a movie with Paul Rudd in 1996, and that’s when I met Jon Hamm.

Alex and Paul’s love scene was more explicit than we’re used to seeing on the show. How did you guys prepare for that with director Mimi Leder?

Witherspoon: I didn’t think it was explicit.
Aniston: Having Mimi there, you’re protected. I never felt uncomfortable. Jon was such a gentleman, always — I mean every move, every cut, “You OK?” It was also very choreographed. That’s the beauty of Mimi and our gorgeous editor, the music and lighting. So, you don’t prepare. They asked us if we wanted an intimacy coordinator. I’m from the olden days, so I was like, “What does that mean?” They said, “Where someone asks you if you’re OK,” and I’m like, “Please, this is awkward enough!” We’re seasoned — we can figure this one out. And we had Mimi there.

 

Do you feel like Alex has a bad picker when it comes to men? This is the second time she’s chosen someone who’s publicly viewed as dangerous.

Witherspoon: Who was the first?
Aniston: Mitch.
Witherspoon: Oh, you weren’t a couple.
Aniston: No, we weren’t a couple, but I loved him. Maybe we’ll find out why she has such a bad picker. It’s hard to be a really successful woman and make that part of your life — it’s sort of the last thing on your to-do list. You’re busy doing so many other things in the world, which is why I think I failed so terribly at marriage —
Witherspoon: In the show.
Aniston: In the show, oh yeah!
Witherspoon: Just wanted to be clear. I don’t like saying women have bad pickers. Because that sort of feels like a judgment. Maybe Alex is brave enough to break her own heart.
Aniston: Or maybe these are lessons she’s in need of. Because, everything I’ve gone through in my life, there’s not one thing I would do over, at all. It’s all our journey.

Chip made quite a splash on air after being fired from “TMS.” Will Mark Duplass be back?

Aniston: We have no idea what could happen in our world.
Witherspoon: He could be in prison, too!
Aniston: He could produce you from the cell.

With everything going on in the world, what topics would you guys like to dive into?

Witherspoon: I think it would be great to do something with AI and the veracity of news when things can be so easily manufactured. It’s really a strange time for journalism, and it just continues to evolve.
Aniston: It’s unsettling to know that so much is manufactured and can be so easily manufactured and that so many people just believe it at face value. There was so much respect for journalism and now, it’s so divided — you listen to one news channel and it’s this story and another news channel and it’s this story. It’s heartbreaking, that division. I hope it’s just an ebb and flow, and that the goodness, the quality and the respect will hopefully come back. It’s a really scary time to be a journalist.

Some people view the show as “camp.” What do you both think? 

Witherspoon: Like “Dynasty” campy? I don’t have a good perspective about that. I think we’re the wrong people to ask! I love “Dynasty.” I love powerful women in great outfits having a verbal argument.
Aniston: Give me some good “Below Deck: Down Under.” That’s all I can digest sometimes!

What do you want people to get out of “The Morning Show”?

Witherspoon: It’s creating adult conversations about issues that we’re dealing with every day in real time in our workplace environments and in our personal lives, so it helps us process. It mirrors a lot of what’s going on in the world, and life is complicated.
Aniston: And there’s something about allowing people to sit and digest [weekly], because everything is so fast. People’s attention spans are just so limited. To have a moment to sit and digest and think about it and talk about it, maybe watch it again to try to understand it. Then to go back to when we used to communicate with one another and connect with one another, which is something that I feel that we have drastically lost with these phones and the amount of distractions. God bless the ’90s.
Witherspoon: She always says that.
Aniston: We just had so much fun!

 

The show began with UBA rebuilding post-Mitch scandal. With UBA and MBN merging in Season 4, could this be a set up for the show’s final season?

Witherspoon: Or does it create an entirely new world of characters? A new eco-system? We’ve always thought this world is so rich that you can find new characters, stories and new TV personalities, people who have emerged in the zeitgeist.

How did you stay creative during the strike?

Witherspoon: I found a chocolatier, and had them teach me and some of my friends how to make chocolates.
Aniston: Actual chocolate bars?
Witherspoon: No, bonbons.
Aniston: Like Lucy and Ethel?
Witherspoon: Yes, it’s so fun. We’ve got to do it! It’s so easy, too.
Aniston: Can we please have a night where we do that? I made soap and tree ornaments. I went to Ojai, turned off the news, and with my three best friends since I was 15 and 20, just got creative.
Witherspoon: This is one of my favorite things about Jen — she has friends from high school on. It’s a testament to what a good friend you are.
Aniston: We kind of raised each other. We all came from little tumultuous, broken families. It was the ’70s, ’80s, it was sort of a different time. People weren’t going, “How are you feeling? How does it make you feel?” No one’s ever asked me, “How does something make you feel?” All my friends’ kids are in therapy! Everybody’s fabulous. Your two kids — look at them!
Witherspoon: I have three.
Aniston: Three! That’s what I meant.
Witherspoon: It’s hard to keep track. By the way, I forget sometimes.
Aniston: You still look like a little tiny girl to me, like my little sister. Like I always said, baby with a baby.
Witherspoon: I was a baby with a baby when I was on the set of “Friends.” I was like, “I’m nursing! Want to see my baby?”

Speaking of “Friends,” Jennifer, you recently lost a member of the “Friends” family. How do you want the world to remember Matthew Perry?

Aniston: As he said he’d love to be remembered. He was happy. He was healthy. He had quit smoking. He was getting in shape. He was happy — that’s all I know. I was literally texting with him that morning, funny Matty. He was not in pain. He wasn’t struggling. He was happy.
Witherspoon: It’s important people know that.
Aniston: It is. I want people to know he was really healthy, and getting healthy. He was on a pursuit. He worked so hard. He really was dealt a tough one. I miss him dearly. We all do. Boy, he made us laugh really hard.

So many people — from those who knew him to journalists — penned tributes to him. It must have been so incredible to see the outpouring of love.

Aniston: It’s so beautiful. I hope he can know that he was loved in a way he never thought he was.
Witherspoon: You all were so close. It’s incredible what was born of those friendships, and how you guys have always taken care of each other for years and years. It’s really beautiful and set standards for our business, as well, with the way you respected each other. I feel lucky that I got to be on that show and I walked in like Alice in Wonderland, watching the most popular cast do this whole thing. I remember going home and going, oh, they’re in another league. They’re on another planet on comedy levels that I’ve never seen my entire life, pivoting on a dime and working on each other’s energy and it was extraordinary.
Aniston: I also have to say I think Matthew Perry’s dialect, his way of speaking, created a whole different world. We went with his lead, in a way. It just added something to our joy.

 

This interview has been edited and condensed.



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