Variety reports today Reese Witherspoon is in talks with Nora Ephron to have her write and direct a movie about the life of jazz singer Peggy Lee; a movie Witherspoon herself will star in. Witherspoon secured the rights to Peggy Lee’s life story last year after a meeting with the singer’s granddaughter. Blonde, beautiful and talented,and always willing to work hard to get what she wants, some might say Reese Witherspoon is the perfect choice to portray Peggy Lee on the big screen. From one observation of Reese Witherspoon a few years ago, I have to agree.
In 2001, while living in Santa Monica, I saw Reese Witherspoon one day in the coffee shop I used to hang out at. In the middle of the afternoon, I happened to look up from my laptop to see Witherspoon and a friend walk through the cafe door and stand in line at the counter to wait for service.
Being used to seeing celebrities, as the coffee shop was on upscale Montana Avenue, the first thing that struck me about her was how normal she was. Unlike other celebrities who came into the shop demanding quick service and barely grunting in thanks, Reese Witherspoon stood politely in line, was lovely to the girl behind the counter who served her and thanked her nicely before she left. Listening to her conversation with her friend too, it was obvious she was a gracious, friendly and kind person, and I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since.
Peggy Lee was also known to be polite, friendly and gracious. Like Reese Witherspoon, Lee was famous for going out to get what she wanted and usually getting it too. Disgusted with songwriters and singers not getting a fair enough piece of the financial pie, Peggy Lee sued both Disney and MCA/Decca years before anyone else thought about it, to get royalty payments for songs she had written. She won both lawsuits.
Reese Witherspoon and Peggy Lee also look alike. Witherspoon is petite, blonde and has startling Nordic features, a look shared by Peggy Lee who had both Norwegian and Swedish ancestry. Here, however, the similarities end.
Where Witherspoon was brought up in the south in a close-knit family with two highly-educated parents, taught southern-style manners and the importance of being polite, Lee’s mother died when she was four years old, and she grew up in a large family of seven siblings, with a father who was an agent for the local railway line. At 18 years old, Reese Witherspoon was attending Stanford University while, around the same age, Peggy Lee had already moved to Chicago to try to establish a music career.
Regardless of the differences, the physical similarities between Lee and Witherspoon are so striking she couldn’t be more perfect to play the part. Add into the mix, similar personality traits and a drive to be as accomplished as possible, and both women have much more in common than not.
According to Variety, the movie on Peggy Lee’s life does not, as yet, have a title and Witherspoon is still hammering out the details as far as writer, director and the movie deal itself.
Witherspoon in tune with Peggy Lee – Variety