Jennifer Love Hewitt Looks Back on "Gross" Questions Reporters Asked Her
"I laughed it off a lot of the time, and I wish maybe I hadn’t."
While women are still frequently sexualized by the media, there's been a recent reckoning—or at least acknowledgment—of how much more accepted and blatant that sexualization was in the '90s and '00s. The latest celebrity who came up in that time and is speaking out about it is Jennifer Love Hewitt, who first became well known through the TV drama, Party of Five, and then became a silver screen teen idol thanks to movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Can't Hardly Wait. Now 42 years old, the 9-1-1 actor is looking back at some of the interviews she did in the earlier days of her career and the "gross," invasive questions she was asked by reporters. Read on to find out what Jennifer Love Hewitt said about the media's scrutiny of her body, and for another conversation that's being reexamined, check out This Resurfaced Oprah Interview With Mary-Kate and Ashley Has Fans Livid.
The Britney Spears documentary had Hewitt revisiting her Hollywood past.
In a new interview for Vulture about her 2001 comedy Heartbreakers, which turns 20 years old this year, Hewitt was asked how she dealt with the "the leering in the media" regarding her body. The actor answered that watching the Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, had brought back some uncomfortable memories.
"…There's that whole section in there talking about her breasts," Hewitt said of the film, which shows how reporters wrote and asked about Spears' body, even when she was still a teenager.
She later added, "When I watched that Britney Spears documentary, it hurt my heart a little bit, because I remember in hindsight having that feeling. I'm really grateful that we're in a time where, hopefully, that narrative is going to change for young girls who are coming up now, and they won't have to have those conversations."
For more on the pop star, check out This Diane Sawyer Interview With Britney Spears Has People Outraged.
Hewitt initially felt that the questions reporters asked were warranted because of how her character dresses in Heartbreakers.
The actor addressed how her feelings about her body and appearance being such a frequent topic of conversation have changed over the years as she's become more aware and empowered. In Heartbreakers, she plays the younger half of a mother/daughter con artist duo (opposite Sigourney Weaver) who seduce men out of their money, and her wardrobe reflects that aim.
"At the time that I was going through it, and interviewers were asking what now would be incredibly inappropriate, gross things, it didn't feel that way. I mean, I was in barely any clothing the whole movie. For some reason, in my brain, I was able to just go, 'OK, well, I guess they wouldn't be asking if it was inappropriate.'"
Sadly, Hewitt said she was used to the questions by that point, noting that "the conversation for a very long time in my career was always about [my body] first" and work later.
"I didn't get it," she continued. "That's just what I looked like, and I was doing my job." She said that she went into interviews assuming that "at least 20 of the 40 minutes is going to be about boobs and body stuff, so we'll just get that out of the way and then maybe they'll ask me something else."
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But she became frustrated to be reduced to how she looked.
Being especially proud of Heartbreakers, Hewitt said she found the coverage of the film demoralizing.
"I was disappointed that it was all about body stuff, because I had really worked hard in that movie to do a good job as an actress," she said. "So I remember one specific moment wishing that the acting had overshadowed all that—that for five minutes, they had said I was really great in the movie versus made a body comment."
A few years before that film, she pushed back against that type of press when promoting one of the Last Summer slasher movies. To get ahead of questions about whether she had had breast augmentation surgery, Hewitt wore a top that read "Silicone Free" to the junket. "…I was so annoyed, and I knew something about boobs was gonna be the first question out of [reporters'] mouths," she said.
For another reexamination, check out This Resurfaced Jennifer Aniston Interview Has Fans Horrified.
There's a lot she wishes she'd done differently.
These days, Hewitt is married to fellow actor Brian Hallisay, with whom she shares a seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. The star told Vulture that raising her daughter is one of the reasons why she now looks back on those invasive interviews with disgust. But experience and age were also factors.
"Now that I'm older, I think, 'Gosh, I wish that I had known how inappropriate that was so I could have defended myself somehow or just not answered those questions,'" she said. "I laughed it off a lot of the time, and I wish maybe I hadn't."
Unfortunately, times haven't changed that much. In 2018, Hewitt's appearance at the Fox Upfront presentation—her first red carpet in four years, per ET Online—garnered so much criticism that she actually apologized on her Instagram Story.
"So we go to the upfronts yesterday, and nobody tells me the day is going to be like 12 hours long and the humidity is going to be almost 100 percent in New York so I just have to apologize," she said in the video. "Wearing a black suit, not a good idea, that's A. B, not wearing enough hairspray and teasing in my hair, also a bad idea…I just have to apologize for how, like, wrecked I look in all the pictures that came out."
For another star who's dealt with similar issues, here's Jessica Simpson Says Body-Shaming Tabloids "Made Me Feel Like a Failure."