Grrr! Ryan Phillippe Broke America's Sweetheart

I don't know what Grrr'd me more ... hearing that Reese Witherspoon got married to Ryan Phillippe seven years ago, or the more recent news of their separation.

You see, like thousands of other ordinary, less-than-perfect men in the world, I was flabbergasted as to why Witherspoon would pick Phillipe, of all the men in Hollywood, to marry. Did she see Phillippe's potential before the rest of the world?

Sure, he's a heck of a good-looking guy, but at the time of their marriage, Phillipe was an actor who left most audiences unimpressed in forgettable films like "54" and "Cruel Intentions."

I never understood why such a terrific actress who happens to be gorgeous and powerful would pick such a mediocre man to call her own. Witherspoon's down-home Tennessee attitude is a refreshing contrast to most other Hollywood stars, and it just seemed to me that Phillippe was just another Hollywood actor.

But I never Grrr'd the guy, because I don't know him, nor have I ever met him.

At last year's Oscars, Witherspoon and Phillippe breezed past our gaggle of reporters on the red carpet, even though he made a strong showing in the Best Picture winner, "Crash."

I was disappointed, but as I said on the Live Stream here at, of all the celebrities I've met and interviewed, Witherspoon is probably the only one who makes me nervous — and I'm a married man with no intention (or hope) of anything more than an interview with Witherspoon.

But I fell in love with her celluloidness many years ago in a small, wonderful film called "Man in the Moon." It was Witherspoon's first movie role, and even as a teenager she had movie star potential, with an accessibility that made people want to see more and more.

And we did.

Witherspoon's career blossomed with movies like "Election" and "Legally Blonde," and indeed, without "Sweet Home Alabama," I can pretty much guarantee that Dr. McDreamy on "Grey's Anatomy" would be someone other than her co-star in that film, actor Patrick Dempsey.

It was because of Witherspoon that America discovered the former brat-packer had grown into a stud of a man, and his career got a second wind on television that other brat-packers have failed to duplicate (just ask Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe — if there was an Adult Contemporary category for actors, they'd be starring on a Lite FM near you)!

After "Crash" however, and with the buzz of "Flags of Our Fathers," I sort of changed my mind about Phillippe. Maybe Reese was right after all. Maybe she saw the man he could be way back then?

Now comes word that the couple, who have two children, are calling it quits, amid rumors that Phillippe has found a new flame in a younger version of his wife, an Aussie actress named Abbie Cornish.

The reports in such reputable rags as US Weekly (ha) state that Witherspoon found saucy e-mails from the little honey on Phillippe's BlackBerry. Cornish's rep refuted the claim, releasing a statement Tuesday saying, "It's not true. They are co-stars and that is it."

But the timing of these reports is curious, especially after reading our own entertainment guru Roger Friedman's eyewitness account of a fight between Witherspoon and Phillippe at the premiere for "Flags of Our Fathers."

Only time will tell, but I can tell you one thing ... if Cornish is in fact the reason for this split, it will not help her career in Hollywood or in America.

Witherspoon commands a respect among movie studio execs, powerful agents, the cruel press, those big, bad paparazzi and mostly, the fans.

If true, I see a future for Cornish starring opposite Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell in an NBC sitcom handpicked by that programming whiz kid Jeff Zucker himself. Maybe Aaron Sorkin can write and produce.

As for Reese and Ryan, I'm disappointed that the marriage didn't work out. I'm disappointed for their children.

And I am genuinely heartbroken for Reese, because she will be the one hurt most by this. Phillippe will be just fine. Men like that always are, aren't they?


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