For its 20th Women in Hollywood issue, Elle looked to mega-watt stars like Reese Witherspoon (the actress slash producer), Penelope Cruz (the working mother), Melissa McCarthy (the powerhouse comedian), Shailene Woodley (the ingenue) and more to shed light on what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood today. The actresses spoke about everything from their five-year plans to whom they admire in the issue hitting newsstands October 22. Below, we share some of their best quotes:
Penélope Cruz, reflecting on her Hollywood stardom: “The concept of a ‘star’ will always sound foreign and surreal to me because growing up in my country, you’re an actor, not a star.”
Reese Witherspoon, on what inspired her to begin producing movies: “I started noticing a couple years ago that I wasn’t seeing women as the stars of movies. I’m seeing them as the guys’ girlfriends, or so-and-so’s wife. I just thought: God, if I don’t start buckling down and start producing some movies, what’s my daughter going to see in the movies?”
Melissa McCarthy, on which comediennes she enjoys watching: “I watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Veep and she is so good, because she is playing the world’s biggest asshole narcissist, and yet you can’t take your eyes off of her. In fact, you still strangely like her and almost want to hang with her.”
Marion Cotillard, on why she became an actress: “When I was a kid, I started to have a lot of questions about human beings, and I was a troubled child because of all of these questions. I guess that’s why I became an actress. Not only because my parents were actors and, yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to tell stories, but I think I became an actress because I wanted to explore this—to explore what a human being is.”
Naomie Harris, on standing up for herself on set: “On my first film, I played a stowaway on a ship heading to Germany, and the director told me I was going to be thrown into the sea. But he didn’t have any stunt coordinators! I told him I would agree to be pushed over the side, but only if I could watch him getting pushed over first. Both of us stayed dry.”
What do you think of the selection of actresses for this year’s issue? Who are you most excited about?