Growing up listening to country favorite, Johnny Cash, my family eagerly awaited the release of the movie based on his life and career, Walk the Line, in 2005, two years after Cash’s death. The movie portrayed Cash’s struggles and his constantly teetering career beautifully. The cast of the movie performed each part with stunning similarity to the assumed characteristics of the real life stars. My favorite part in the movie, however, was Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.
Reese Witherspoon has always been a great role model and southern sweetheart to all her fans. She has had plenty of roles in movies that strengthen fans’ love for her. She stepped up to the next level when she performed as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Not only did she perform the character of June with magnificence, but she also learned to sing for the part, stunning fans and critics everywhere. Who knew Reese had such an amazing voice for singing?
It wasn’t something she learned overnight, however. According to an article from “Taste of Country,” Reese, and Joaquin Phoenix alike, went through vigorous vocal training from famed music producer, T-bone Burnett. An article from IMBD stated also that Reese really did learn to play the instruments she uses in the movie and sang for the movie without being dubbed like actors are in most singing scenes. Speaking to MTV in 2004, before the movie was released, Reese spoke of her role in the film. “It’s been so hard; it’s been really, really one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to make. I had to do four months of rehearsals. I had to learn to play autoharp. I had to take singing lessons. I had to record an album, which was the most challenging, horrifying experience of my life. Me singing in front of people while they’re listening to me is just horrifying. And it gets exponentially horrifying when extras show up and have to watch you and you have to pretend you’re at a concert and singing and they like it.”
Reese never did get to meet June Carter Cash, as she died before production of the movie began. Witherspoon did, however, get to listen to a pre-recorded interview with June and speak to her children in order to learn more about the woman she was to portray. She also got to research June’s closet for inspiration before shooting for the film began. In the same interview with MTV about the movie, Reese said, “I met with the family, I met with her children. I talked to them. I visited her house, got to walk through her closet and stuff. I know that sounds strange, but just to see her things and see all her musical instruments and see where she lived and spent a lot of her time, a lot of that kind of stuff has been really helpful. Friends of the family have been on set and I’ve had a lot of time to sort of absorb that side of it.”
Witherspoon certainly wooed the crowds with her portrayal as June. She won an Oscar for best performing actress in 2006 for her role in Walk the Line. She stayed humble, as always in her career. I still, to this day, will have a mood that leads me to open up the soundtrack to Walk the Line on my phone and begin playing Witherspoon’s covers of June. I have a deep respect for June Carter Cash and her music, but something about the way Reese Witherspoon performed June’s songs brought new life to the lyrics and tunes played. Reese, you’re a truly talented woman.