Witherspoon's clean image should fully recover
Actress Reese Witherspoon attends the premiere of "Mud" hosted by The Cinema Society with FIJI Water & Levi's at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday April 21, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/InvisionAP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Reese Witherspoon's professional image is so squeaky clean that she got laughs on a late-night show earlier this year for pretending to buy bottles of cognac and tequila.
Her recent arrest and admission that she "clearly had one drink too many" could be more damaging to her brand than it might be for someone with a less-wholesome image, experts say, but because she apologized quickly and sincerely, her career is likely to fare just fine.
"Reese Witherspoon has become successful by positioning herself as America's sweetheart — a likable, friendly, non-threatening star — and this fundamentally disrupts that image," said branding expert Dorie Clark, author of "Reinventing You." ''It's far worse for Reese Witherspoon to be arrested (image-wise) than it would be for Lindsay Lohan. ... I think (Witherspoon) understands the severity of the situation and that's why she issued the apology so quickly."
The 37-year-old Oscar winner was arrested in Atlanta after a state trooper said she wouldn't stay in the car while her husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, was arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.
"Do you know my name?" Witherspoon is quoted as saying in the trooper's report of the early Friday incident. She also said: "You're about to find out who I am" and "You're about to be on national news," according to Trooper First Class J. Pyland.
This undated photo provided by the City of Atlanta Department of Corrections shows Reese Witherspoon. The Oscar-winning actress was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after a state trooper said she wouldn't stay in the car while her husband, James Toth, was given a field sobriety test in Atlanta. (AP Photo/City of Atlanta Department of Corrections)
Witherspoon apologized shortly after news of the arrests broke Sunday and attended a New York screening of her new film, "Mud," that night as scheduled. But she canceled appearances this week on NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" and "Good Morning America" on ABC.
"I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said," she said in a statement. "It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I'm very sorry for my behavior."
Her publicist, Meredith O'Sullivan Wasson, declined comment Monday.