Reese Witherspoon’s literary takeover: All the upcoming adaptations from the queen of book-to-screen

Katie Rosseinsky
·4-min read
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The past few years have seen Reese Witherspoon establish herself as one of Hollywood’s most prolific readers — and one of the publishing world’s most influential tastemakers.

The multi-talented actress launched her online book club back in 2017, using it as a platform to spotlight writing by women. Her commercial instinct and chatty synopses combined with her massive social media reach (her @reesesbookclub account alone boasts 1.8 million followers, while her personal account has 24 million) has since helped propel countless titles onto the bestseller lists.

Witherspoon’s literary endeavours don’t stop there, though. Her eye for a brilliant story has helped to shape the projects she’s worked on as a producer and actress, from her Oscar-nominated turn in Wild (which was based on the memoir from Cheryl Strayed) to HBO’s mega-hit Big Little Lies.

Since launching her production company Hello Sunshine in 2016, Witherspoon has focused on female-driven literary adaptations, many of which have been previous picks for her book club — and her slate of upcoming projects is absolutely packed.

Top of the pile is the upcoming adaptation of Where The Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’ best-selling 2018 novel. Fresh from this year’s biggest book-to-screen success story, BBC Three’s Normal People, Daisy Edgar-Jones has just been announced as the star.

As Witherspoon’s literary empire goes from strength to strength, here’s your guide to the actress’s most exciting upcoming production projects...

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman’s ubiquitous ‘up lit’ hit, which tells the story of a lonely, socially awkward woman whose life is transformed by a chance encounter, was Witherspoon’s first pick for her book club back in the summer of 2017. On this side of the Atlantic, it was near-impossible to enter a tube carriage without spotting a copy at the time, but Witherspoon’s recommendation helped stir considerable buzz for Honeyman’s book in the US. Hello Sunshine optioned the rights to bring Eleanor Oliphant to the big screen soon after — details for the project are still scarce, though Witherspoon is expected to produce, with The Post writer Liz Hannah working on the script.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Keough will star in the Amazon series (Getty Images for Pizza Hut)
Keough will star in the Amazon series (Getty Images for Pizza Hut)
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Riley Keough will take the lead role in the TV adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s wildly popular novel, which charts the meteoric rise and subsequent unravelling of a fictional rock band, set against the backdrop of 70s Los Angeles. The book is written as an oral history, and the series, which will air on Amazon, will feature original music. Sam Claflin, Suki Waterhouse and Camila Morrone have also signed up to star.

Where The Crawdads Sing

A female-led book club favourite set in the Deep South of the 1950s feels like prime Witherspoon territory, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when the actress confirmed earlier this year that she’s turning Where The Crawdads Sing into a movie. Edgar-Jones will play Kya, a young woman accused of murder, while Beasts of the Southern Wild writer Lucy Alibar is on screenplay duties.

From Scratch

Witherspoon has teamed up with fellow actress Zoe Saldana for her first Netflix project. The duo will both serve as executive producers on the streaming service’s adaptation of From Scratch, Tembi Locke’s memoir of love and loss, which was a Reese’s Book Club pick back in 2019. Locke’s sister Attica, a writer and producer on Witherspoon’s recent adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere, will serve as showrunner.

A White Lie

Zendaya has been attached to the project since 2018 (Getty Images)
Zendaya has been attached to the project since 2018 (Getty Images)

Zendaya is slated to star in Hello Sunshine’s adaptation of The Gilded Years, Karin Tanabe’s novel telling the true story of Anita Hemmings, who became the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar College in the 1890s — several decades before the institution officially accepted women of colour as students — by passing as white. The project was snapped up by Sony’s TriStar Pictures back in 2018, but things have gone quiet since then.

You Think It, I’ll Say It

Witherspoon snapped up the rights for Curtis Sittenfeld’s superlative short story collection shortly after it was released in 2018, with the aim of turning it into a TV series. Kristen Wiig was originally attached to star, but had to bow out due to clashes with filming for Wonder Woman 84. A new lead is yet to be announced, but 30 Rock writer and producer Colleen McGuinness is still pencilled in as the showrunner. Sittenfeld’s novels feel like the perfect match for Witherspoon: we’d love to see her rescue HBO’s adaptation of college coming-of-age novel Prep from the development hell it has been stuck in for years, or to tackle Eligible, Sittenfeld’s delicious re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice.