When she’s not busy cleaning her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Reese Witherspoon is definitely busy doing something else. Over the past few months, you may have noticed Witherspoon’s name popping up in the news more than usual. Perhaps you saw the actress’s face in promos for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time; maybe you watched Home Again multiple times on a very long flight, like I did during my Christmas holiday. (You should definitely watch Home Again.)
Witherspoon is busy right now — like, Donald Glover–level busy, Michael Stuhlbarg–showing-up-in-practically-every–Best Picture–nominee-level busy. A Wrinkle in Time is just one of Witherspoon’s many current projects. The next couple of years could spawn a new Golden Age of Witherspoon, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the days of Election and Legally Blonde — except this time, she’s doing a lot of work behind the scenes, too.
To keep track of Witherspoon’s ever-expanding portfolio, we’ll go through all of her pending projects, offering progress reports and letting you know just how excited you should be for each one. To give you an example of how this works, Home Again is available on demand (progress report!) and you should be extremely goddamn excited about it. Let’s get started.
A Wrinkle in Time
What Is It? A live-action adaptation of the fantasy novel of the same name from Madeleine L’Engle. Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) is at the helm, and is the first black female director to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million. Witherspoon plays Mrs. Whatsit, one of three immortal beings (the other two are played by Mindy Kaling and Oprah) that help young protagonist Meg Murry (Storm Reid) find her missing father across the universe.
Progress Report: A Wrinkle in Time drops this Friday. This one’s ready to go.
Hype Rating: 8/10. This would be a full 10/10, but it’s a tiny bit concerning that the review embargo for the movie doesn’t drop until two days before release, and that social media reactions from most film critics were either nonexistent or a bit negative. Still, if nothing else, the movie looks absolutely stunning, and is a decent bet to make a boatload of cash.
Untitled Morning Show Drama With Jennifer Aniston
What Is It? One of a few original shows Apple has up its sleeve for its streaming service. Witherspoon and Aniston will costar in a drama that is an “inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the women (and men) who carry out this daily televised ritual.” Basically, imagine Morning Glory turned into a TV show (in a good way!). The show comes from Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine. Semirelated: Hello Sunshine is an adorable name for a production company.
Progress Report: The program has a straight-to-series order for two seasons, but there have been no updates on filming — or even a title. This may or may not have to do with Witherspoon’s other TV commitment over on HBO (more on that in a second).
Hype Rating: 9/10. This doesn’t just sound like fun material for Witherspoon to work with, but it’s also Aniston’s first major return to television since starring in some sitcom called Friends.
Big Little Lies Season 2
What Is It? A rather unexpected follow-up to HBO’s Emmy-winning miniseries, returning to the affluent, picturesque Monterey, California, and the quintet of compelling women at its center. Amazingly, Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, and Bearded Adam Scott will be joined by even more star power in Season 2, in the form of 21-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep. She’ll be playing the mother of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), who was killed in the Season 1 finale. Yes, it’s lit.
Progress Report: Final negotiations with Season 1’s stars are wrapping up, and HBO expects the second season to air sometime in 2019. Filming is reportedly going to start in the spring, so with any luck, we could get a teaser trailer by the end of the year.
Hype Rating: 10/10. Didn’t you hear me earlier when I said MERYL STREEP?!
Little Fires Everywhere Limited Series
What Is It? An adaptation of Celeste Ng’s book of the same name, which focuses on a custody battle over a Chinese American baby in an Ohio town. So far, Witherspoon and Scandal’s Kerry Washington are set to star. Witherspoon is also executive-producing the series, which is also under the purview of Hello Sunshine.
Progress Report: Witherspoon’s company hasn’t decided on a home for the series yet, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, a “parade of network execs” took meetings and bid on the series. Once Little Fires Everywhere lands a network, they’ll round out the rest of the cast and go from there.
Hype Rating: 8/10. I didn’t know I needed Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon in a series together, but now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Y’all! I’m so excited to tell you that @kerrywashington and I will be bringing #LittleFiresEverywhere to the screen together ! I love this beautiful book about motherhood and I can’t wait to finally collaborate with one of my favorite actresses. pic.twitter.com/EyeMUP4vZd— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) March 2, 2018
A Live-Action Tinker Bell Movie
What Is It? Exactly what it sounds like, and Reese Witherspoon is going to play Tinker Bell.
Progress Report: The news/casting was first announced in 2015, and there haven’t been any tangible updates since 2016. It probably hasn’t helped matters that Witherspoon is suddenly involved in multiple TV projects. Consider the Tinker Bell movie on the backburner for both actress and studio.
Hype Rating: 5/10. Disney’s live-action-adaptation craze is a bit exhausting. We definitely don’t need a Tinker Bell movie at the expense of Witherspoon’s other projects — especially only a few years removed from Pan.
A White Lie
What Is It? A psychological thriller based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, who became the first black woman to attend Vassar College by passing as white. Zendaya will play Hemmings. (Side note: The movie’s title is pretty great.) Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine — typing out “Hello Sunshine” will never get old — is producing the project along with Zendaya.
Progress Report: TriStar Pictures just acquired the distribution rights in January, so filling out the rest of the cast is next on the docket before filming begins.
Hype Rating: 9/10. Zendaya has shown off her post-Disney acting chops in Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman, but in minor roles that saw her cede time to male protagonists. A starring role is an exciting step for her acting career, and kudos to Witherspoon for supporting this project.
Are You Sleeping
What Is It? A somewhat meta drama based on Kathleen Barber’s novel of the same name, which focuses on the craze behind true-crime podcasts. The series, which stars Octavia Spencer, “challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage.” In addition to Spencer — fresh off an Oscar-nominated turn in The Shape of Water — Serial cocreator Sarah Koenig is consulting on the series. Are You Sleeping gives off some American Vandal vibes, but with a more serious tone and (almost assuredly) fewer penis jokes. Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine (are you sensing a trend?) is producing the series.
Progress Report: The series was announced in January, so it’s still a ways away from premiering.
Hype Rating: 9/10. Are You Sleeping sounds like an exciting vehicle for Spencer, who’s been great in supporting roles (Shape of Water, The Help, Fruitvale Station) on the silver screen. Leading a TV drama clearly worked for Witherspoon in Big Little Lies. It should work for the equally talented Spencer, too.
An Untitled Kristen Wiig Comedy Series
What Is It? A half-hour series inspired by a forthcoming short-story collection from Curtis Sittenfeld, who’s perhaps best known for a fictionalized interpretation of former first lady Laura Bush’s life. Once again, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is producing.
Progress Report: The comedy seems to be in its early stages: It doesn’t have a title or additional casting announcements yet. Plus, if Wiig is actually going to play the villain in Wonder Woman 2, which is a rumor I’d very much like to see come to fruition, that might delay things further.
Hype Rating: 8/10. Wiig hasn’t returned to the small screen with much regularity since Saturday Night Live outside of a recurring role on The Last Man on Earth and voicing a talking vagina (really) on Big Mouth. However, after a somewhat tepid post-Bridesmaids career on the big screen, a return to television could benefit Wiig as well as Apple, which can boast a supremely talented SNL alum for one of its first comedy series.
What Is It? A Disney comedy about “an overly imaginative little girl who makes 10 wishes at a wishing well.” Witherspoon will play the girl some 25 years later, when her kid-wishes actually come true.
Progress Report: Witherspoon’s casting was unveiled back in 2011, and aside from a 2012 rumor that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig could head the project, there’s been radio silence from Disney regarding the project. A director still hasn’t been announced. Clearly, with all the Star Wars, Marvel, and live-action Disney movies on the docket, Wish List isn’t a priority.
Hype Rating: 3/10. I’ll be honest, it sounds like the Mouse House saw When in Rome and thought “What if that, but Reese Witherspoon?”
In a Dark, Dark Wood
What Is It? A film adaptation of Ruth Ware’s novel about a writer getting an invite to a bachelorette party from a high school friend who she hasn’t seen in 10 years. Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is producing, but according to Deadline, there are currently no plans for Witherspoon to star in the project.
Progress Report: News of the adaptation came on Wednesday, so this is the project that’s perhaps the furthest away from being actualized on screen.
Hype Rating: 8/10. At this point, you’ve probably sensed a trend with all of Witherspoon’s forthcoming projects. Whether she’s starring in them, producing — or both — these are films about women, written by women, and starring women. And minus a few Disney projects, they all sound compelling and worthwhile.
I would encourage Reese to continue adding projects to her slate, but at some point, I’m gonna become worried about her health. One thing at a time, Reese! We can be patient — we know it’s worth waiting for.