During the 74th Academy Awards, the then-spouses took the stage together to present the Best Makeup category. After announcing the nominees, Witherspoon, now 44, turned to Phillippe, now 46, and asked if she could read the winner, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
“You make more than I do. Go ahead,” the I Know What You Did Last Summer star responded.
Journalist Margaret Gardiner reminded the Legally Blonde star about the exchange on the Friday, December 25, episode of the “HFPA in Conversation” podcast.
“I forgot that ever happened,” Witherspoon said. “He did say that, and no, it wasn’t scripted. He didn’t tell me he was going to say that before it happened on air. So, I was a little bit flummoxed in the moment.”
The Big Little Lies star went on to say that the “few women” in Hollywood who “make a lot of money” are often “shamed for it,” explaining, “Sometimes they are expected to give more and do more and be more to others in the same position that maybe a male movie star may not be expected.” However, she acknowledged that “gender norms have changed quite a bit” since the 2002 Oscars moment.
Witherspoon then shared a story about her and Phillippe’s 21-year-old daughter, Ava, being “so embarrassed” in the second grade when a classmate brought up the fact that the Morning Show star was one of the highest-paid actresses in the industry.
“I said, ‘Don’t ever feel ashamed of a woman making money.’ There are women all over this world who don’t have an opportunity or an education or the ability to make money,” Witherspoon recalled telling her eldest child. “The more women who make more money will give more money away, will take care of their societies, will take care of their communities, will do more with that money.”
She added, “So don’t ever feel bad about your mom making money, and don’t ever feel bad if you make money, and don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it’s more than your partner.”
The Walk the Line star and the Shooter alum were married from 1999 to 2007 and also share 17-year-old son Deacon. Witherspoon wed talent agent Jim Toth in 2011 and welcomed their son, Tennessee, now 8, the following year. Phillippe, for his part, is also the father of 9-year-old daughter Kai with ex-girlfriend Alexis Knapp.
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