Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon on "The Morning Show's" message to men: "Check yourself at the door"
Two of Hollywood's biggest names, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, met on the set of "Friends" nearly 20 years ago. Now they're back together for "The Morning Show" as leading ladies and executive producers of the new Apple TV+ series.
"We would keep meeting and going, 'What movie should we make together? Let's do a movie together,'" Witherspoon said.
"We've tried for a while," Aniston added.
"Yeah, but we never really found the right thing. And then this came up and it just felt perfect," Witherspoon said.
The concept of "The Morning Show," where they co-star as news anchors, was already in the works when the story line changed.
"This whole other sexual harassment story started coming out within the news world. And then we just were, like, 'We have to do this. And we have to address it,'" Witherspoon said.
The male anchor, played by Steve Carell, is fired for allegations of sexual misconduct.
"We all know there's a big old elephant on the couch 'cause CBS was part of the Me Too movement," King said, adding, "None of us thought we'd be there either, but here we are."
Aniston said the news of allegations against various male news anchors changed the game "completely."
"We had to pause and kind of rethink and regroup," Aniston said. "And it was very important – how we sort of hit this in terms of tone, to not try to take any sides or be, you know, too black and white."
"I think this is happening in real life, where men are looking at each other saying, 'I wasn't as bad as that guy,'" King said.
"Yes," Aniston responded.
"So what is the message, if any, that the show is trying to send about that?" King asked.
"There are the absolutely monsters consciously doing these disgusting things. And then there's the narcissists that just assume every woman wants to. And, of course, you're going to come to my-- that's just... that's not out of the ordinary at all," Aniston said.
"Is there a message for men in this series, do you think?" King asked.
"Probably watch yourself. Check yourself at the door," Aniston said.
King asked whether there's room for redemption and due process for men after an accusation because "the man is instantly found guilty in the court of public opinion."
"I think there's great growth and development by us finally listening to women who are survivors. And really believing. But you're completely right. I mean, I think people-- due process is certainly a situation that you have to believe in," Witherspoon said.
"'Cause I always say, Reese, this ain't that complicated. When men say, 'Oh my God, I'm not so sure what to do. I don't know how to react.' Yeah, you do," King said.
"Well, I think it's strange because one set of rules played for so long. And then one day, the rules changed. And they changed pretty abruptly. So I think we have to give everybody a little bit of space to-- we're changing," Witherspoon said.
"Bit of a learning curve," Aniston said.
"We weren't put in leadership positions before. And now people are taking us seriously. People are wanting us to be the leaders, where that wasn't even an opportunity that we had even seven years ago to be producers of our own material," Witherspoon said. "That was sort of, like, 'Okay, we'll just tell her she's a producer, but don't really listen to her ideas.'"
"Right. Lot of placating, yeah," Aniston said.
"And now it really feels like, no, what do Reese and Jen want?" Witherspoon added.
In the series, there's a scene where Aniston's character, Alex Levy, advocates for herself in a boardroom, saying, "You're not listening. I don't need to justify anything. You all are so convinced that you are the rightful owner of all of the power that it doesn't even occur to you that someone else could be in the driver's seat." King asked Aniston and Witherspoon whether they have ever had to give a similar speech.
Both said yes.
"Many," Reese said.
"Many, many, many," Aniston also said.
"I've been in rooms where I said, 'Is there any women at this company, because I don't want to work here if I don't see a woman in the room the next time I come in' … But, you know, by the way, I went outside the room and I was shaking," Witherspoon said. "I was, like, 'Am I gonna get in trouble? Am I gonna lose the deal? Am I gonna lose the job?' And I was, like, 'Screw it. Screw it.' If I lose the job, I didn't wanna work there anyway. And you know what? I went back and they brought a bunch of women into the room."
For Aniston, she's described her life now as one of the most creative times of her life – "Meaning I just feel that I have come into a place in my life as an actor, as a creative... I just feel excited," she said.
"Couple years ago, this would be, like, send 'em out to pasture. And it's like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. This is all just getting started. I'm just-- this is-- I'm just getting cooking over here," Aniston said. "And I think it's about changing those rules-- you know, that society places on all of us."
"You're both very successful actresses… But at some point, you decided, 'I wanna be a boss,'" King said. "I wanna know your thought process behind that, for both of you."
"There was no stories. There were no scripts," Witherspoon said. "It's not good enough that we don't have-- we don't get to be the lead story of our own lives 'cause what does that show the world, you know? Little girls don't see us being the people we really are. We're just playing wives and girlfriends?"
"Yeah. The America's sweetheart," Aniston said. "So it's, like, you had to take – create the stories 'cause they're out there. There's a lot that we have to say. So it's just about let's get out there and we'll do it ourselves."
Watch Aniston and Witherspoon turn the tables on King and interview a real morning host:
"The Morning Show" is available to stream on Apple TV+ Friday, Nov. 1.
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