Reese Witherspoon won her first Oscar for her portrayal of country music legend June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and it's easy to see why. The actress and producer put her heart and sole into portraying Carter in the James Mangold-directed biopic about the life and career of Johnny Cash (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) and his love story with his wife and fellow singer-songwriter.
Witherspoon reflected on preparing for the role in a post on Instagram, explaining that the role required months of singing lessons and autoharp training.
"What a memory! Preparing to play June Carter was six months of singing lessons and autoharp training," Witherspoon wrote on Instagram. "Joaquin and the guys in the band practiced everyday and every night. Despite all the practice, I was so nervous to sing in front of those huge crowds, but once we got started it was such a thrill. Truly an unforgettable experience I will always cherish."
Both Witherspoon and Phoenix did their own singing for the film, working closely with producer T-Bone Burnett. The film also features Shooter Jennings as his father Waylon Jennings, Waylon Payne as Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonathan Rice as Roy Orbison and Tyler Hilton as Elvis Presley.
In her 2006 Academy Awards speech, Witherspoon reflected on the legacy of Johnny and June.
"Johnny Cash and June Carter had a wonderful tradition of honoring other artists and musicians and singers and I really feel that tradition tonight," Witherspoon said, adding that June Carter had "dignity and honor and fear and courage." She also thanked T-Bone Burnett for "helping me realize my lifelong dream of being a country music singer."
Witherspoon was raised in Nashville, Tenn. and currently owns the clothing and lifestyle store Draper James, located in Nashville's 12 South neighborhood. In 2018, she published Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits.
The 2020 documentary My Darling Vivian chronicles the life of Cash's first wife Vivian Liberto (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin in Walk the Line.)
This article was originally published in May of 2020.