Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Reese could be better at playing the role of bad girl

She's the last person you'd expect it of, all the same.

 The one name you'd never think to place in the same sentence as 'petulant' and 'disorderly' – not to mention 'arrested'. That sweetest of hearts, that most appley of pies: Reese Witherspoon.

Prior to her brush with a Black and White last Friday, you might have thought of Witherspoon as the encapsulation of the American ideal in one pint-sized platinum package of perfection: all down-home good girl, virtuous and wholesome, but technically as square as, well, her jawline.

However, unless she was right in front of your very nose, smelling of fresh peaches, clean sheets and cherry pies, you'd barely have thought of Witherspoon at all.

I managed to maintain a straight face once through a conversation with someone who consistently called her 'Wipperspoon', proving that her name is just like her – it shouldn't be forgettable, but somehow, it just is.

June Carter Cash aside, Wipperspoon's acting career has more or less consisted of parts where she's the girl-next-door-made-good, waiting for the outcome of the battle between Mr Right and Mr Not Suitable At All At All for her hand. Not bad, just a bit bland. Like movie scampi.

Now, I would imagine, however, that for Miss All-America, that might be about to change. 'Cos she's done had a li'l ol' run-in with the Sheriff. Of the right kind.

Because there is a right kind. There's a way to commit a very public misdemeanor when you're a celeb and somehow come out the other side unscathed, a slightly darker, yet infinitely more interesting, version of yourself.

There's a wrong way, too, of course. The Lohan and Sheen school, which is messy, career-damaging, estimation-lowering and smelling slightly of stale sick and beer, for example. There's also the always-forgivable, comi-tragic style – the MacGowan, or the Osbourne.

But just sometimes, the wrongdoing has the touch of the absinthe fairy to it, that somehow doesn't downgrade a star, or put them in the loveable drunk pile.

Without Divine Brown, Hugh Grant could have spent his career stammering through swear words until he was obscured by his own foppish fringe.

After, however, he could feasibly and convincingly be interesting and, indeed, capable of being taken seriously as a mouthpiece of the Leveson Inquiry.

Robert Downey Jnr spent years out of his bin on one thing or another. Now, he's reformed – not boring, saintly, pure, mung-bean-eating reformed, but battle-scarred, edgy. And in demand.

Mickey Rourke, Kelsey Grammer, The Hoff, Dave Grohl – Glen Campbell, for heaven's sake – they've all felt the strong arm of the law and carried on regardless.

If anything, a little more mad, bad and dangerous to know. A bit more interesting. A little mysterious. A tad hotter. And a lot more bankable.

Wipperspoon's mugshot has earned its place in a very exclusive gallery in celeb terms. Her hair a dull brown and head bowed, the shame and contrition that she has subsequently expressed should shine through.

She seems genuinely mortified with her words of apology, her admission of disrespect and her acknowledgement that she'd had "one drink too many" (you think?). Yet there's something about that picture... Darned if she ain't smilin', chief.

A little grin that says she's given a little lip and she knows she shouldn't have, but she's showing that, underneath her strawberry shortcake exterior, is a very naughty girl indeed.

A girl who, when she's good, she's very, very good. But, when she's bad, could be so much better.

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