Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash

reese1Growing 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.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 3, Movies and TV, Women

7 Responses to Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash

  1. Caitie Labay

    I have always thought Reese was a great actress, but I had no idea that she was in this movie or that she could sing. I am very impressed to find out that she learned to sing and play instruments especially for this film. If that were me I certainly don’t think I could have pulled that off. I have never really listened to that much Johnny Cash, but after being in this course and after reading this article I think I should definitely start. Thank you for writing about this movie because now I’ve got another film to add to my list for when I just want to sit around on a weekend and Netflix binge! This was a very interesting read, thank you for sharing!

  2. Kelby Floerke

    When someone asks mw if I could choose to be anyone famous, who would it be?? I always say Reese Witherspoon, she is ADORABLE. I actually just read this article on her the other day about her making her own film production company that makes movies with strong female characters as the lead role. She said she had this inspiration because every role she’s ever taken is because it is a strong female character, for example, June Carter in this movie. She is someone who had a great career. I am thinking about watching this movie later on now! Really great read.

  3. John Monroe

    “Walk the Line” has got to be one of the most underrated films in recent history due in large part to the incredible performances! One of the reasons I think that Reese and Joaquin were so incredible on screen is because of their acting styles – they are both trained as Method actors. It was so interesting hearing how Reese dove into the world that her character played by visiting the family and training to sing and play the instruments. Joaquin Phoenix is also a method actor which I think allowed the two to play off each other so well. As a film major and country fan I love this movie and your post was really fascinating.

  4. Matt Wills

    It’s been a long time since I have seen “Walk the Line,” but as I remember it, its an absolutely amazing movie. Both Joaquin Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon do an excellent job of portraying Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, who were extremely complicated and interesting people. There are definitely some harsh parts of that movie, and I can’t help but cringe every time I think of the scene where Elvis introduces Johnny Cash in to the world of drugs, but, in my opinion, it takes really good acting to illicit that type of response out of the viewer. Reese Witherspoon really showed how talented she truly is in this film, and did the artist who deserves the up-most praise, well.

  5. Claudia Boyd

    When I think about Reese Witherspoon, the first thing that comes to mind is Legally Blonde, but this is far from what she is as an actress. Now, I have to admit I have yet to see Walk the Line, but it is definitely on my to do list for the week. I am interested to see what she brings to the role of June Carter Cash because as you said she was able to see her closet, walk around the house, and truly embody the role she was playing. I look forward to deciding whether or not she is the best fit for the character, by reading your post I am convinced she is. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Ginny Montalbano

    This was a great topic for an article! I haven’t seen this movie in a long time but I remember really liking it. Reese Witherspoon’s dedication to the movie makes it 100% more authentic, because as you pointed out there were no singing voices being dubbed in or other people playing the instruments. When I think of her I always think of Legally Blonde first, but her acting (and singing!) abilities were demonstrated in her outstanding performance in this film. I think it’s a shame she wasn’t able to meet June Carter Cash before she died, but it’s great that Witherspoon was able to interact with her children and go through some of her personal belongings to get a better sense of who she was as a person.

  7. Darah Welch

    Wow I love Reese Witherspoon. She is one of those actresses who is gorgeous, obvi talented, and all around has stayed classy her entire career. And now finding out that she played the role of June Carter shows her immense versatility. She is one of those women who young girls should look at as a role model because of her willingness to try new things and overcome her fears by challenging herself in her roles. The fact that she was afraid to sing in front of people, especially extras who had to look like they were having fun was probably very intimidating for her but she owned it like a boss. Also I really want to go watch this movie now….

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