Reese Witherspoon on Her 2013 Arrest: People Realized “I Wasn’t Exactly What They Thought”

Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon addressed her 2013 arrest for disorderly conduct during a press event at the BFI London Film Festival, saying it showed the world she has a "complexity that people didn't know about" Karwai Tang/WireImage

Reese Witherspoon's arrest in April 2013 was something of a wake-up call — and not just for her. Asked about the incident during a press conference for her new movie Wild at the BFI London Film Festival on Monday, Oct. 13, the actress said she thinks it opened the world's eyes to the fact that there's more to her than the America's Sweetheart persona she has cultivated on-screen. 

"I think it was a moment where people realized that I wasn't exactly what they thought I was," the 38-year-old star said (via The Hollywood Reporter). "I guess maybe we all like to define people by the way the media presents them, and I think that I showed I have a complexity that people didn't know about." 

Of the arrest — for disorderly conduct in Atlanta, where she was filming The Good Lie at the time — she added, "It's part of human nature. I made a mistake. We all make mistakes. The best you can do is say sorry and learn from it and move on."

Witherspoon did indeed apologize for her run-in with the law, first in a statement just a few days after the scuffle, and then in interviews as she made the rounds to promote Mud. "I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said," she told Us at the time.

"It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse," she continued. "I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am."

Who she is, though, is constantly evolving. In recent months, the Oscar winner has shown a grittier, more spirited side to herself — both in life and in work. For Wild, which is based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir, she had to get down and dirty, sometimes literally.

"When you see me putting together the tent, that's literally me putting together the tent," she told reporters (via THR). "It took me two hours. I could not figure out the f—ing tent. And when I kicked the stove, it's because I couldn't make the f–ing stove work."

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