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Reese Witherspoon Said She Was So Scared To Film "Wild" She Had Panic Attacks And Had To Have Hypnosis

"It changed me on a cellular level."

Posted on June 16, 2021, at 6:51 a.m. ET

Reese Witherspoon is opening up about the most challenging roles of her career, admitting she was "so scared" to film 2014's Wild that she had "panic attacks for three weeks."

Gregg Deguire / FilmMagic

Speaking to Tracee Ellis Ross for Interview magazine's summer cover, the 45-year-old revealed she had to have hypnosis before starting work on the project, an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir that landed Reese an Oscar nomination.

When asked which role has changed her most, Reese said: "Probably Wild. I was so scared to do that, Tracee. I had hypnosis, I was so scared. I was having panic attacks for three weeks before I started."

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Elaborating on why she was so nervous to begin filming, Reese mentioned "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," Reese explained. "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?'"

She went on to say the project was so special to her because she considers Cheryl Strayed's book to be "beautiful and sacred."

Mark Davis / Getty Images

"It spoke to me so deeply about how we as women have to save ourselves," Reese said. "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."

"I don't know if I'll ever work that hard again," she added. "But it changed me on a cellular level."

Elsewhere in the interview, Reese spoke about her experience launching Hello Sunshine, the production company focused on telling female-driven stories that produced Wild.

"When I started Hello Sunshine [in 2011, I] went around to each studio head and asked, 'What are you developing for women?'" Reese recalled. "Other than one studio, they all said, 'Nothing.'"

Theo Wargo / WireImage

"I had a studio head say to me, 'Reese, we already have a movie with a woman this year. We can’t make another one,'" she said.

"They had no trepidation about admitting that to me," Reese went on. "It was just an accepted norm. That was astonishing to me, that they would say it so plainly and that it was something I was supposed to accept."

Read Interview's conversation between Reese Witherspoon and Tracee Ellis Ross in full here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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