Reese Witherspoon Travels Back To The 1990s With Help From ‘Seventeen Magazine’

Not long ago, Reese Witherspoon was leaping into Leap Year Day with pal and fellow thespian Mindy Kaling, but now the energetic actress is going back to the 1990s for her next role.

In an Instagram update on Thursday, the Big Little Lies star illustrated how she has been researching for her upcoming part in Little Fires Everywhere. For the new role, she found herself studying an old copy of Seventeen magazine from September, 1997, in which she was called an actress “on the rise” in a cover blurb.

The part Reese plays in Little Fires Everywhere is one writer Celeste Ng created in her most recent bestseller. The book is the basis for an upcoming Hulu series that she and Kerry Washington are bringing to the small screen. The two actresses, who bought the book rights, also star in the six-episode order that “explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood — and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster,” according to a press release about Ng’s novel.

The author’s book was reviewed by Entertainment Weekly, who said that Ng “widens her aperture to include a deeper, more diverse cast of characters” than her previous bestseller, Everything I Never Told You.

“Though the book’s language is clean and straightforward, almost conversational, Ng has an acute sense of how real people (especially teenagers, the slang-slinging kryptonite of many an aspiring novelist) think and feel and communicate.”

As one of those characters, Reese plays Mrs. Richardson, a person Vanity Fair calls “a paragon of oblivious entitlement.”

Reese told the magazine that the character she plays in Little Fires Everywhere presented a fresh challenge for her.

“Despite her intelligence and social grooming, she has a deeply embedded lack of awareness of her privilege,” the actresses told Vanity Fair. “She’s constructed a life that’s impervious to the world… She’s so comfortable in her social standing and her wealth that she feels entitled to analyze anyone outside her sphere but never… at her own shortcomings.”

Part of the 43-year-old star’s transformation for her new character was shown via her new Instagram post. Fresh curls occupied her short, blond hair that had not yet been brushed out, while a makeup artist applied black mascara to her lashes. Reese read from that old 1997 copy of Seventeen in which she shared a look at her life as an actress.

At the time, she had just played Nicole Walker in the 1996 Mark Wahlberg thriller, Fear, and she was five years from being cast in her breakthrough role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

But that was a long time ago in a career that has enjoyed both ups and downs. Reese seems to have enjoyed renewed success in recent years after forging ahead with her own projects rather than waiting for one to come along. As Vanity Fair noted, she had a dry spell after playing the undeniable June Carter Cash opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line.

Happily, that dry spell is now a distant memory. As her Big Little Lies co-star, Laura Dern, told Vanity Fair, Reese is “a miracle. She is the gold standard of what it means to be a champion.”