Reese Witherspoon Reveals She Underwent Hypnosis to Treat Panic Attacks Caused By This Role

Reese Witherspoon spoke to Tracee Ellis Ross about the anxiety-inducing role that "scared" her enough to make her seek professional treatment ahead of filming.

By Cydney Contreras Jun 15, 2021 9:10 PMTags
Watch: Reese Witherspoon's "Blonde Moments" Game

Reese Witherspoon is revealing how her role in 2014's Wild impacted her mental health.

In a conversation with Tracee Ellis Ross for Interview magazine, the 45-year-old actress recalls taking on the challenge of portraying Cheryl Strayed in Wild, saying she was "so scared" about filming the project.

"I was having panic attacks for three weeks before I started," she shares, explaining the "nudity, sexuality, and drug-use" were intimidating aspects. 

Another anxiety-inducing factor for Reese was "being alone on camera with no other actors." As she explains, "I hadn't ever been alone in scenes for days and days. There were probably 25 days of the shoot where I had no other actor opposite me. It was just me and a camera and a backpack."

The Morning Show actress reveals she also found herself questioning, "Is this going to be so boring?" 

But with less than a month to go until filming, Reese had to combat her fears, so she turned to hypnosis. 

And though she could've walked away from the role, the Oscar winner said the movie was so important to her as a woman.

25 Fascinating Facts About Reese Witherspoon

"Cheryl Strayed's book was so beautiful and sacred to me because it spoke to me so deeply about how we as women have to save ourselves. There's no mother or father coming to save us. There's no spouse," she shares. "I thought it was radical that at the end of the film, she ends up with no family, no money, no job, no partner, and she's happy."

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Reese adds, "I don't know if I'll ever work that hard again, but it changed me on a cellular level."

The mother of three has been increasingly open about her mental health, especially as the world entered the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. She previously shared how she'd "lay on the floor and cry," because she's simply "overwhelmed."

And more recently she admitted to winging it when she first became a mom to daughter Ava Phillippe in 2002. She told Drew Barrymore she was "terrified" about the major life change, explaining, "I didn't know how to balance work and motherhood. You just do it, you know?"

"I was just like every other mom trying to figure it out—and dad out there, and partner, and grandparent who's raising a child," Reese remarked.

Nowadays, it sure looks like Reese has things figured out.