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Why ‘Women’s Anger’ and ‘Fear’ Play Integral Roles in ‘The Morning Show’

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer AnistonPaleyLive NY
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Shutterstock

The Morning Show” is sometimes about people leaning fully into their most base impulses. Other times it’s about harnessing those impulses for their benefit.

For actor and executive producer Reese Witherspoon, anger was one of her best motivators when playing the part of up-and-coming news anchor Bradley Jackson in the Apple TV Plus original drama.

“I’m interested in women’s anger,” she told Variety at the Paley Center’s screening of the pilot episode in New York City on Tuesday night. “We don’t see it a lot on film, and I think women expressing their rage and anger is a really exciting character trait to explore. My character just doesn’t have a filter and she has kind of a hairpin trigger, anger response.”

This was a character trait Witherspoon advocated for in the room with showrunner Kerry Ehrin. “Reese wanted to push her character to have more of an anger issue, which I thought was really funny and fun,” said Ehrin. “She wanted to genuinely be a little unhinged, which I was super down for.”

The show centers on a day of reckoning after beloved morning show anchor Mitch Kessler (played by Steve Carell) is fired amid allegations of sexual misconduct — which the team behind the show feels gives them the perfect opportunity to showcase all emotions that would come out in the aftermath of such a bombshell.

You can look at [‘The Morning Show’] from many different points of views,” executive producer and director Mimi Leder told Variety. “Misconduct in the workplace, women in power, women in control, women trying to be controlled, women trying to seek their own destiny — it’s all there.”

When asked if there was an element of fear in embarking on a story so close to the sexual allegations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer, Leder replied, “Fear is a really great motivator. We are in the cultural shifting dynamic of the #MeToo movement. This show is a snapshot of that, and I wanted to explore that world of truth telling.”

For actor and executive producer Jennifer Aniston, the fear came full force on the first day of filming, when she had to build 15 years of emotional history with co-star Carell in one scene.

“It felt like diving naked, chest first into an empty pool,” she said.

But pushing past that fear became worth it, and now she hopes the show “will shine a light, check people at their door, and ask, ‘Has this been taking place in my environment?’”