The Big Little Lies star said that watching the Framing Britney Spears documentary – about the hitmaker’s conservatorship battle and the media scrutiny Spears faced – led her to reflect on the early stages of her own fame.
Although to a lesser extent than Spears, Witherspoon was also a young woman in the tabloid spotlight in the early 2000s.
After she married her Cruel Intentions co-star Ryan Phillippe at 23 years old, the couple’s divorce in 2008 made headlines. Her 2013 arrest for drinking under the influence also became the subject of media scrutiny.
Speaking to Time, the Legally Blonde star said that the difference between herself and Spears was that the media painted her – and her friend Jennifer Garner – as “good” women.
In comparison, Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton were presented as “bad”.
The actor said: “What if the media had decided I was something else? I would be in a totally different position.
“I want to say it’s my decisions or the career choices I made, but it felt very arbitrary. And kind of s***ty.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the 45-year-old also spoke about the #MeToo movement.
In 2017, the Oscar winner came forward with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by an unnamed director when she was 16 years old.
Witherspoon told Time that she hardly slept and struggled with anxiety during that period.