Reese Witherspoon Reveals She Once Fled An ‘Abusive Relationship’ In Time’s Up Interview With Oprah Winfrey & Mindy Kaling

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If there’s one piece of advice Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which give in the trailers for A Wrinkle in Time, it’s to “be a warrior.”

Reese Witherspoon, who plays Mrs. Whatsit in the upcoming Disney timespace adventure, was applauded for giving similar advice years ago at Glamour‘s Women of the Year awards: be “ambitious.”

What made the celebrated movie star and producer realize she was a woman of ambition? Believe it or not, it was when she left an abusive relationship.

Related: Natalie Portman Remembers ‘Unacceptable’ Encounter On Producer’s Plane

The Big Little Lies star was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey alongside Mindy Kaling for the March issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, in which the trio discussed the impact of the Time’s Up initiative for women across all industries.

When the Big O asked her Wrinkle In Time costars how they were molded into the women they are today, Reese got surprisingly candid about her past.

After Winfrey asked the most difficult decision the actresses had to make “to fulfill [their] destiny,” the Cruel Intentions actress admitted:

“For me, probably leaving an abusive relationship├óΓé¼┬ª I drew a line in the sand, and it got crossed, and my brain just switched. I couldn’t go any further. I was really young, and it was profound.”

Whoa.

The 41-year-old didn’t get too specific, but said she endured both “psychological” and “verbal” abuse. She explained, however, that putting a stop to the abuse changed her “on a cellular level,” adding:

“It changed who I was on a cellular level, the fact that I stood up for myself. It’s part of the reason I can stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m ambitious.’ Because someone tried to take that from me.”

She’s not naming names, but let’s just say who we’re all thinking… Selma Blair‘s character in Legally Blonde!

No? Okay, then was it Reese’s ex-husband and accused domestic abuser Ryan Phillippe? According to The Blast, Reese had no plans to change their custody agreement following the accusations of domestic violence made against him. Why? Apparently Ryan was never violent in front of her. The wording is tricky, of course, as violence to some could just mean physical acts — but for others, verbal abuse can be very violent.

Photo: Oprah & Reese Have Extra Limbs In Vanity Fair‘s Hollywood Issue!

Regardless of who the abuser was, the actress said standing up to them flipped a switch in her brain, causing her to become the woman who would, years later, go viral for encouraging women to be animals of ambition.

Reflecting on her speech — in which she was applauded for saying, “Ambition is not a dirty word” — Reese explained to Oprah:

“A Columbia University study found that people considered an ambitious woman more selfish and less worthy of being hired than an ambitious man. I thought, ‘We need to start reframing this word ambition. Because it isn’t about being selfish; it’s about wanting to create more and do better for communities, schools, the world.”

Mindy, a decidedly single mom and veteran showrunner, vociferously agreed with her costar, adding:

“It’s true. Ambitious, when applied to a woman, almost means ruthless. Used for a man, it’s considered a great compliment. But if someone called me ambitious, it’d almost feel like shade.”

But with the power of the Time’s Up initiative, Reese says “the rules have changed” and women have the opportunity to speak up. She continued:

“There are a lot of really good men in the world, but I do think it’s incumbent on women in leadership to rewrite the rules. We have to get together as groups of women, which is what I’ve been doing with a lot of actresses. It’s been incredibly illuminating. Women in positions of power need to help people understand what the new normal is. You tell people how you want them to treat you.”

Unless Reese objects, we’ll continue treating these women like the celestial goddesses they are.

See photos from the trio’s O Magazine spread (below)!

[Image via Disney.]

Feb 6, 2018 2:03pm PDT

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