LOS ANGELES – Reese Witherspoon’s professional image is so squeaky clean that she got laughs on a late-night show this year for pretending to buy bottles of cognac and tequila.
Her recent arrest and admission that she clearly had one drink too many could be more damaging to her brand than it might be for someone with a less-wholesome image, experts say, but because she apologized quickly and sincerely, her career is likely to fare just fine.
Reese Witherspoon has become successful by positioning herself as America’s sweetheart – a likable, friendly, non-threatening star – and this fundamentally disrupts that image, said branding expert Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You. It’s far worse for Reese Witherspoon to be arrested (image-wise) than it would be for Lindsay Lohan.
The 37-year-old Oscar winner was arrested in Atlanta after a state trooper said she wouldn’t stay in the car while her husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, was arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Witherspoon apologized shortly after news of the arrests broke Sunday and attended a New York screening of her new film, Mud, that night as scheduled. But she canceled appearances this week on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning America on ABC.
Longtime Hollywood publicist Michael Levine said Witherspoon’s timely apology helps mitigate any lasting damage to her image, saying she, quickly removed the poison from her system.