Published January 13, 2015
For Reese Witherspoon (search), Katrina really hit home.
With the superstar actress hailing from hurricane-ravaged Baton Rouge, La., there was just no avoiding discussion of the disaster as she spoke with press at Thursday night's Hollywood premiere of her romantic-comedy "Just Like Heaven." (search)
"My family has been thankfully fine," Witherspoon told AP Television News. "We live in Tennessee. But we have many extended family members, friends, that are dealing with some pretty difficult things. So, I've been in touch with a lot of different people like Save the Children and Children's Defense Fund, who are doing wonderful things to help out down there and providing refuge for a lot of people. All you can do is pray, you know?"
Coincidentally, "Just Like Heaven" touches upon the spiritual side of life, and death, with its tale of a deceased doctor (Witherspoon) whose ghost haunts the troubled man who moves into her apartment, played by Mark Ruffalo.
Clearly, the usually buoyant actor had the hurricane victims on his mind, too, as he arrived for the premiere.
"You know, you want to kind of carry both things," he said. "There's the elation of this and then the heaviness of Katrina in New Orleans right now."
Added co-star Jon Heder, "(The disaster) definitely freaked me out. (I was) just thinking, 'We're right here, close to the ocean. Man, stuff could happen here any day.' And it really did open my eyes on how lucky and blessed I am, and how much I do want to help those people."
One of the film's producers, Walter Parkes, revealed Katrina has affected "Just Like Heaven's" marketing.
"One thing we did do was pull all of our advertising off the air last weekend," he explained. "We just didn't think it was appropriate having 30-second spots for a romantic-comedy while people were really getting their first news about this terrible tragedy. And you try to be as sensitive as possible."
Witherspoon said she hoped the movie would provide a little piece of heaven for its viewers.
"You know, it's hard being here thinking, 'This is so frivolous, and that's not really my personality,'" she said. "But I do think there's an important part of entertainment that lifts people up and gives them hope about life, and you have to believe in that side of it, too."