Here’s one way to make Reese Witherspoon sexier: Ask her to don some leather and bare some flesh.
At least that was the strategy behind This Means War, a spy thriller due in February that posits what would happen if two super-agents fell for the same woman.
The movie, whose trailer hits theaters Friday, features Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as spies who work well enough together — as long as they’re killing people, not courting them. The movie is directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation). Chelsea Handler and Angela Bassett also star.
Pine plays an Ethan Hunt-style spy, an American bruiser who has more fight in him than finesse. Hardy is more of a James Bond agent: smooth, quick with a quip and heavy on the British dryness.
“They get to run around to exotic places, and everything is great until they meet a chick,” says McG, who adds that the film is in the vein of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the Mission: Impossible and Bond movies.
McG says he is a longtime fan of Witherspoon, an Oscar winner for 2005’s Johnny Cash bio Walk the Line. But he says her provocative side has long been ignored.
When he offered the role, “I told her, ‘You’re America’s sweetheart,'” McG says. “‘Women love you. Men … like you. I want men to covet you.’ She took a deep breath and said, ‘Go for it.'”
That meant dressing her in some tight-fitting spy get-ups and having her lip-wrestle covert operatives.
“Those are really her legs, those are really her abs,” McG says. “That’s her making out with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.”
McG says that while he has always considered Witherspoon a beauty, the two had to “establish trust” before she agreed to lose any garments.
“I love strong female characters, and she had seen Charlie’s Angels,” he says. “Between her physical readiness and the manner we photographed her, you get a sexy takeaway.
“The audience is the beneficiary.”
McG is catching Pine and Hardy in steep ascent. Pine starred in last year’s hit Unstoppable, and Hardy appears in next summer’s Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises. McG expects that their chemistry — and one of the movie’s messages — will lure women, who are not always the biggest spy fans.
“Men,” McG says, “will disintegrate into boys when a woman is involved.”