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Sweet Home Alabama in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Sweet Home Alabama

Reese Witherspoon • Josh Lucas • Candice Bergen
• Patrick Dempsey
DIRECTOR: Andy Tennant

Time for a hoe-down THE CONCEPT:
New York fashion designer Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon), is engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor, and son of the Mayor, Andrew (Dempsey). But she is already secretly married to high school sweetheart Jake (Lucas). Now she must persuade him to give her a divorce.

U.S. RELEASE: September 27 2002 • Rated: PG-13


“We were the first film to shoot in New York following 9/11. It was surreal. We were supposed to be in Soho that morning scouting for locations, and we moved it to 10 am. So we were on the corner of 54th and 7th watching the towers fall. I’d lived in New York for several years of my life, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else that day. But we thought the movie was over, and even talking about a movie in context with 9/11 just didn’t matter. Then Mayor Guiliani said, ‘New York is open for business, nothing changes.’ So we went to the film commission and the mayor’s office, and they said it was exactly what the city needed. We shot everywhere. It was weird because we were doing a light comedy. But at the same time, what better tonic for everybody to laugh and remember what it’s like to be human and in love.”

“I didn’t grow up in a small city, but I grew up in a very closely knit community. Everybody was very involved in each other’s lives. That was what was familiar about this and nice because it represents that southern sensibility of closeness and genuinely caring about other people. It also got to explore the fun of southern eccentricities without poking fun at Southern people.”

“When I first saw Reese in Man on the Moon, I was like, ‘Wow, I want to marry her,’ which would probably have been pretty sick because I was 19 and she was 13. It helps tremendously if you’ve had a history with a person, even if it’s in your own mind! And so you’re building upon that romantic notion that you’ve had with someone for a long time, and you’re able to spark your own thoughts in a way. Reese is an incredibly professional, serious actor. She’s extremely smart and comes to the set with a level of preparation that’s as good as anyone.”

“Reese is so on top of it, so poised and so talented it’s unsettling! I was such a screw-up for so long, it’s totally amazing to see a woman like that who knows where she’s going. The young actresses now are very much in control of their destiny, and they really take charge. Reese is a tremendous judge of material; every movie she has done has been in some way a movie of real value. She’s very smart and impressive.”

“I think that Reese’s character must go back to her roots, you can’t go too far from them or you’ll become cut off, and you disown a part of yourself when you don’t embrace your childhood, your past and where you come from. My life changed when I went back to Maine and bought a farm. I was like, “I’ve had the American dream now, everything from here on is grace.’ I’m very lucky, very fortunate.”

REESE WITHERSPOON on the graveyard scene where she sobs over the loss of her dog:
“[The dog] represents the unconditional love that you get when you go back home. It’s represented in a family pet or your friends. The kindness that you’re treated with; it’s hard to reject that for very long. That’s what I liked about this movie. I think all young people sort of go through a process of rejecting their parents or their upbringing. I think you have to. It’s healthy in order to accept who you are. That’s what I identified with in this piece.”

“In the depression, people went to comedies. There’s nothing wrong with a nice movie about the human condition, and about small town America and values and love – we have a movie that doesn’t have a bad guy!”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Buena Vista
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #623, October 2002 cover

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