Actress briefly jailed for disorderly conduct in Atlanta following husband's DUI arrest
Reese Witherspoon and her husband, CAA agent James Toth, were arrested and briefly jailed early Friday morning in Atlanta, Ga., after he was pulled over under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, confirmed an official at the city’s Dept. of Corrections.
While Toth is facing a DUI charge after driving in the wrong lane, Witherspoon was also arrested on a disorderly conduct charge according to a police report obtained by Variety. She was handcuffed after disobeying repeated instruction from the arresting officer, with whom she verbally sparred, to stay inside the vehicle.
The couple was released on bond at approximately 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday.
CAA, which employs Toth and represents Witherspoon, and her publicist, Meredith O’Sullivan Wasson, declined comment.
A court appearance is scheduled for Monday at 8 a.m. in Atlanta Municipal Court, but Witherspoon and Toth aren’t expected to appear, according to sources. Their attorney is expected to request that court date be postponed.
Witherspoon, 37, was with Toth, 42, in Atlanta shooting indie drama “The Good Lie.” Production on the film was not interrupted by the arrests, according to sources.
Witherspoon has been married to Toth since March 2011. The couple had a son, Tennessee James Toth, last September.
Toth was pulled over after midnight Friday driving a silver 2013 Ford Focus, which the officer witnessed weaving across a double line on Atlanta’s Peachtree St. Toth appeared disheveled and his breath smelled of alcohol, according to the police report, prompting the officer to administer a sobriety test.
As Toth walked in the Walgreens parking lot where the officer instructed him to pull over to, Witherspoon became increasingly agitated from the vehicle, which prompted the officer to warn her to stay in the car for the sake of her own safety.
“Mrs. Witherspoon began to hang out the window and say that she did not believe that I was a real police officer,” according to the police report. “I told Mrs. Witherspoon to sit on her butt and be quiet.”
Once Toth was placed under arrest, Witherspoon exited the vehicle and was instructed to get back in the car. According to the report, she “stated that she was a ‘US citizen’ and that she was allowed to ‘stand on American ground.’”
The officer then detailed how she resisted as he grabbed her arms to arrest as Toth attempted to calm her down.
As the report details, “Mrs. Witherspoon asked, “Do you know my name?” I answered, “No, I don’t need to know your name.” I then added, “right now.” Mrs. Witherspoon stated, “You’re about to find out who I am.”
The report also specified, “Mrs. Witherspoon also stated, ‘You are going to be on national news.’ I advised Mrs. Witherspoon that was fine.”
Though he told an officer he had only a single drink hours earlier, Toth blew a .139 on a Breathalyzer test administered at the scene. He also is facing a second charge for failure to maintain a lane while driving.
Witherspoon’s alleged violation, which is specified on the police report as “disorderly conduct (obstruction),” is a local municipal ordinance.
The arrest illustrates the delicate position agents can be put, along with the talent they represent, when they happen to be romantically linked to each other.
The arrest could also provide an unlikely career stumble for Witherspoon, one of an elite cadre of female actresses who has established herself for a time as a relatively reliable box-office draw going back to films in which she toplined such as “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Legally Blonde.” In addition, she has achieved critical respect in films like “Walk the Line,” for which she won an Academy Award playing the role of June Carter Cash in 2005.
Her success in part can be attributed to the squeaky clean image she’s maintained in over two decades of steady work. While like many a beautiful young female celebrity, Witherspoon is a fixture of tabloids that have picked apart the details of her romantic life and child-rearing, she has not seen her reputation dragged down by any serious improprieties.
How the arrests managed to stay out of a an increasingly aggressive tabloid press that has missed few opportunities to shine the spotlight on celebrity misdeeds is surprising and unclear. But the stakes for keeping the actress out of the public eye couldn’t be higher as she struggles to recover her career standing after a series of poorly performing films including “This Means War,” “Water for Elephants” and “Rendition.”
Toth and Joel Lubin were named co-heads of motion picture talent at CAA in September 2010. He first joined the agency in 1995 as a trainee, working his way up to agent status in 2000.
“The Good Lie” follows a young refugee of the Sudanese Civil War who wins a lottery for relocation to the United States with three other lost boys. They develop an unlikely friendship with a brash American woman, played by Witherspoon, but the young man struggles to adjust to his new life and his feelings of guilt about the brother he left behind.
Black Label Media is producing indie drama “The Good Lie” with Philippe Falardeau (“Monsieur Lazhar”) directing from Margaret Nagle’s screenplay.. Producers are Molly Smith and Black Label Media partners Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill, along with Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Karen Kehela Sherwood. Imagine’s Kim Roth and Reliance’s Deepak Nayar are exec producing.
UPDATE: Witherspoon issued a statement late Sunday via her spokeswoman: “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. 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. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.”