November 26, 2008 / 12:16 AM / 10 years ago

Divorce takes a holiday in "Four Christmases"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marriage, kids and divorce have all had their impact on Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon, so when it comes to planning the holidays and extended family visits, she has this advice: go with the flow.

Witherspoon, 32, sees her new film comedy “Four Christmases,” debut in U.S. theaters on Wednesday telling of an unmarried couple whose relationship is forever changed after a series of holiday visits to their four divorced parents.

The actress, who has two young children with her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe, said in recent interviews that she deals with her own family dynamics at the holidays by trying to stay open and communicating with everyone concerned.

“It’s all very go with the flow, whatever happens in the moment,” she said.

After seven years of marriage, she and Phillippe separated in 2006 and finalized their divorce this past June. She said her feelings about marriage have changed, somewhat.

“I had a certain idea of what I thought marriage gives and the whole life and how things are, and sometimes it doesn’t work out that way,” she said. “So you have to be open to whatever comes your way in life, and life and love and relationships take all kinds of shapes.”

Divorces and extended families are often the norm in today’s world, but Witherspoon said the story being told in “Four Christmases” seemed very unique for moviegoers.

“I’ve never really seen someone have to deal with the idea of blended family and how they have to go to a million different places,” Witherspoon said. “But I hear people complain about it constantly.”

Witherspoon, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of country singer June Carter in “Walk the Line,” produced “Four Christmases” through her company Type A Films.

She and co-star Vince Vaughn play a couple living together in a posh San Francisco apartment, who every Christmas come up with an excuse to avoid their families.

But this year when their flight to Fiji is canceled, they spend Christmas shuttling through visits to all four of their divorced parents and learning more about each other.

The parents are played by Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen and Jon Voight.

Steenburgen, who is married to actor Ted Danson, said her Christmas resembles the way one of the households in the movie handles their holiday.

“There’s my kids and their friends and my ex-husband and his kids and there’s Christians and Jews, and it’s pretty crazy,” she said. “And everybody has a dog and everybody brings the dog, so it’s just kind of riotous and silly and funny, and we’re deeply immature and have a great time.”

Witherspoon added that when she was growing up each member of her family often got only one gift, but it was extra special, such as a nicely made chocolate.

Things are different for her children, who Witherspoon said expect gifts even on Halloween and will probably ask for a horse for Christmas. Witherspoon owns a farm.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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