Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston Fear No One Will Become Hollywood Stars Like Them

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston fear that no one can follow in their footsteps in Hollywood. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are concerned that future actors may never be able to have careers like theirs. They fear that upcoming generations will not be able to follow in their footsteps to reach the pinnacle of the industry, enjoying the same opportunities to earn the title of ‘stars’. Clearly, we are dealing with two actresses who know what they are talking about. They are popular figures among the international audience with successes that have deeply resonated in the collective imagination. Just mentioning Friends and Legally Blonde is enough to remind us of the privileged position they hold in the public and industry’s memory.

With their knowledge and experience, they believe that it is highly likely that there will be no ‘movie stars’ in the near future due to a worrying hole driven by streaming platforms.

They revealed this during the recent edition of PaleyFest, via The Hollywood Reporter, when asked about the current state of the industry six months after the end of the actors’ strike. Witherspoon, who not only stars in but also produces the series they both star in for Apple TV+, The Morning Show, was the first to speak out. She compared the streaming boom to “a flea market” where “all kinds of stories could be sold” to initiate a sort of “reset” following the strike. This is something she is familiar with, having sold various adaptations and stories to HBO, Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV+.

What I am seeing now, from the perspective of buying and selling, is that part of the strike probably served as a reset for those non-profitable studios -the streaming services- and an opportunity to resize, rework, and reduce costs. We may see less stuff, which can be good, right? We can slow down a bit. But there will be more intent around it and it will be a little more difficult.

However, the Oscar-winning star of Walk the Line believes that the lack of transparency from most platforms has created a situation of uncertainty that could prevent the emergence of new ‘movie stars’ if the same path is followed.

The voice of experience

Witherspoon did not hold back in exposing the reality faced by actors at the moment when it comes to asserting their worth, negotiating, and reaching the starry heights since the streaming phenomenon burst into the market with force.

Will careers like ours ever be possible?” she asked Jennifer Aniston sitting beside her. “Are there opportunities for people to really emerge as stars? How do you know without data transparency? How do we even know if something worked well or not?”

Traditional film always relied on box office results as a clear and transparent indicator of the films that interest audiences and, consequently, the actors who connect with the audience. The same goes for broadcast or cable television where different agencies are responsible for reviewing consumption statistics. However, the streaming universe operates separately.

“It’s tough as an actor, how do you negotiate? How does a producer do it? How do you market? If you don’t know where you stand in the marketplace, how do you value something?” she asked.

If Netflix exposes its data through the Top 10 list found on the platform’s welcome screen, which basically highlights the series and films that are popular among the audience by counting the first three minutes viewed, there is also a website that updates weekly with the hours consumed by content. However, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO, or Amazon Prime Video do not do the same. Although there are agencies dedicated to television market statistics, it is almost impossible to know the exact data of these services if they do not explicitly disclose it. And they rarely do.

In this way, Witherspoon assures that there are “real amounts of data” but the platforms “keep them under lock and key” because “they don’t want you to have the advantage.”

Jennifer Aniston agreed with her colleague, comparing the business by stating that both began “in a time where it was glamorous and fun”, highlighting the audition process and the dreams of gradually landing roles. According to the star of Netflix’s Murder Mystery, before “it was so simple” but “now, sometimes, it’s too much”.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the star of Horrible Bosses has highlighted the glamorous differences between the fame she achieved with her work and the notion of fame today. In 2023, she said she feels “lucky” to “have been able to experience the industry a bit before it became what it is today”, referring to the fleeting fame that arises from “doing nothing” but due to media situations, and cited Paris Hilton and Monica Lewinsky as examples. However, she brought her analysis to the present highlighting that “now you are famous on TikTok, you are famous on YouTube, you are famous on Instagram”, stating that this type of fame was “almost like diluting the actor’s work”.

Two ‘stars’ from another era

As previously mentioned, both of them know what they are talking about. Jennifer Aniston achieved star status thanks to the success of Friends starting in 1994 when she was only 25 years old. Through the international popularity of the series, the available consumption statistics, and the nominations and awards she garnered along the way (Emmy, Golden Globes), she was able to renegotiate her contract from the second season onwards, later joining forces with her castmates to push for contractual improvements. They received raises over the years until they made history alongside Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox as the highest-paid actresses at the time, earning $1 million for each episode of the last two seasons.

That is the example of the difference that Reese Witherspoon points out now. Through the transparency of success, she was able to renegotiate and ascend in the starry firmament, earning $9 million plus a percentage of the box office for her supporting role in Bruce Almighty, the comedy with Jim Carrey about a man who had the power to be God. The film was so successful that she received a total check valued at $20 million, according to Imdb. She repeated the same negotiation next for her comedy with Ben Stiller, Along Came Polly, and has since always enjoyed extravagant salaries ‘as a movie star’. For her most recent film, Murder Mystery 2, she would have earned $25 million according to the same source.

The case of Reese Witherspoon is similar because the clear box office results helped her increase her cachet with each project, going from the $250,000 she earned for Cruel Intentions (1999) to $1 million for Legally Blonde and $15 million for its sequel two years later (Imdb). Since then, she has always been an actress with a star salary.

In her case, we must also consider her keen eye as a producer, firmly establishing herself in the industry through this facet, becoming a significant figure in the streaming boom. She demonstrated this with Big Little Lies through her company, Hello Sunshine, amassing critical acclaim and awards for HBO. A detail that other platforms noticed and wanted under their roof. For example, she made Little Fires Everywhere and The Morning Show for Hulu, Daisy Jones & The Six for Prime Video, and Truth Be Told and The Thing About Pam for Apple TV+.

Both of them achieved the title of Hollywood star thanks to the success of their works which, as they rightly point out, were endorsed by box office and television statistics. As they say, in another era where transparency gave them the advantage to assert their worth, negotiate, and renegotiate.

However, the potential new stars do not have this advantage. If we take into account the daily consumption of these services, nestled in homes worldwide as part of our routine and modern culture, then we can appreciate that hundreds of actors pass through our screens every week. However, how many of them leave a mark amid the voracious consumption of stories? How many can achieve fame and stardom in the most classically Hollywood format if we do not know what is successful for certain and what is not? Ultimately, it is the same theory that applies to the job market where, in theory, we ascend through positions or achieve improvements based on the demonstrable goals we are achieving. However, what if we couldn’t prove them? Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon were able to do so thanks to box office and television statistics, reaching far in the process. But what now with the new generations finding their professional path in streaming?

If most streaming platforms do not make their data public, it is impossible for rising actors to have negotiation tools that allow them to climb the Hollywood ladder. In the end, the industry, its agents, and themselves can only go by public word of mouth and reactions on social media, showing a significant gap in creating new stars that can take the place of Jennifer, Reese, and the rest of Hollywood in the future. This leads us to the conclusion that these stars are not mistaken in their forecast.

This article was written exclusively for Yahoo en Español by Cine54.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *