BEVERLY HILLS, California — In “Hot Pursuit” (opening Friday), Reese Witherspoon plays a by-the-book Texas police officer assigned to accompany Sofia Vergara’s mob wife character across the Lone Star State to testify in a big drug lord case.
En route things take a surprising and very unexpected turn, and in the process the two actresses get involved in a lot of major physical comedy.
In a chat with the two stars recently in a Beverly Hills hotel suite, they started to laugh, remembering how some of those scenes required them to contort their bodies in ways likely not intended in real life.
“It was really fun. But there were a lot of days I felt like a total pretzel,” she added with a laugh. “Going through the window of that bus [shooting a gun at a couple of cops who were pursuing the two women, who had become fugitives] was a trip! Just sitting there on top of Sofia’s body while she maneuvered the bus’ pedals was ridiculous, but it was really funny, and we were laughing a lot while we shot those scenes.”
Witherspoon has long been vocal about her desire to be part of a movement in Hollywood — where women take the reins of creating films. While last year that meant serious fare including the Oscar-nominated “Wild” (in which she starred) and “Gone Girl” (which she produced), Witherspoon also thinks it’s good for women to be in control of lighter fare as well.
“This is a female buddy comedy, and I think it’s important for us to create the stories that showcase us in whatever role we want to portray — serious or comedic,” said Witherspoon.
“Sofia and I met and we talked about what kind of movie we wanted to make. It was a really fun process and for Hollywood — where things can sometimes take years to get movies made — it was a very fast process.”
The two actresses really didn’t know each other before making “Hot Pursuit,” with the exception of having crossed paths at things like award shows.
In talking about the preparation of making “Hot Pursuit,” Witherspoon turned to Vergara and said, “You know, the writers were really excited about doing a film with you. … I don’t know if you know, they do a wonderful impression of you.”
Vergara rolled her eyes and quipped sarcastically, “Oh yeah! Like everyone in the world who do imitations of my accent and the way I talk! What? They did my voice just to see if the jokes were going to work? In my accent? I’m not surprised. That’s how everybody does it on ‘Modern Family.’ ”
In “Hot Pursuit,” Vergara gets to turn the tables on Witherspoon when her character gets to do an imitation of the Oscar winner’s uptight police officer spewing “cop speak” terminology for various criminal infractions.
“You were very on-point, very accurate when you did me,” said Witherspoon.
“Just like your Spanish that you do in the movie,” said Vergara.
That led to the obvious question about Witherspoon’s Spanish skills in real life.
“You know, a year ago it was just so-so,” said Vergara. “But now, I took her to Miami just the other day to promote the movie. My family was there and she went crazy! She was spouting off in Spanish constantly.
“But the big thing came on the last day, live on an interview with Spanish-language TV. I was supposed to translate for her, but she didn’t let me. She just plowed right ahead and answered the reporter in Spanish! And her Spanish was good!”
Right on cue, Witherspoon jumped into this interview, which obviously was being conducted in English. “Working with Sofia was so great. I just think she is so amazing, funny, beautiful and intelligent,” she said. Then, slipping into Spanish, the Tennessee native started calling her co-star “muy bonita, inteligente.”