Reese Witherspoon arrest could maybe help her career: Some stars thrive post-scandal

April 23, 2013
The show must go on: Hours after news of her arrest broke, and just before her statement of apology, Witherspoon walked the red carpet for the premiere of "Mud" in NYC. (Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)
The show must go on: Hours after news of her arrest broke, Witherspoon attended the premiere of “Mud” in NYC. (Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)

Right now, Reese Witherspoon is feeling just terrible.

She said as much hours after news of her arrest broke Sunday, apologizing for harassing the cop who stopped her husband for DWI. (“I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed,” she said.) And now comes the debate over whether the incident will “sully [her] good-girl image.”

To which we say: Reese, here’s hoping! Not all image-jarring scandals wreck a career. Not only do many stars tough it out and rebound (Ingrid Bergman, Robert Downey Jr.), more than a few have benefited. Neither Rob Lowe’s 1988 sex tape scandal nor Hugh Grant’s 1995 lewd-conduct arrest was pleasant — but the incidents lent the actors a raffish, more complex image than either had previously. Both graduated to more textured character roles — and lasting careers — than the vapid romantic parts they were growing out of anyway.

With Witherspoon’s bad night in Atlanta, we got a hint of the passion and anger simmering beneath that perfect veneer. Don’t think that’s a good thing for woman? Don’t be so sure. Divas from Maria Callas to Mariah Carey have grown their legends on tales of diva behavior. Elizabeth Taylor’s career soared after she stole Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds; when she took up with Richard Burton in an affair condemned by the Vatican, she became an international superstar (see also: Angelina Jolie), conquering grittier roles than ever. Maybe it’s time for that “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” remake. Call your agent, Reese.


Related: Reese Witherspoon cancels on Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, after arrest (TV Column)

Earlier: Reese Witherspoon arrested in Atlanta in traffic stop-gone-bad, 4/21/13

 

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Michael Livingston · April 22, 2013