Inside iVillage's Exclusive Reese Witherspoon Chat!

iVillage Entertainment Editorial Director Serena Kappes gives the behind-the-scenes scoop on iVillage's exclusive live chat with the Oscar winner

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles from iVillage’s New York City headquarters to moderate our exclusive Reese Witherspoon live chat on Feb. 15. It was an engaging experience attended by fans around the world who wanted to know everything from her favorite books (she counts The Office star Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) among one of her favorites); what she’d be doing if she wasn’t an actress ("I thought I was going to be a doctor because my mom’s a nurse and my dad’s a doctor so I wanted to go to med school"); and how the newlywed (who married agent Jim Toth last March) balances being a mom to daughter Ava, 12, and son Deacon, 8 (with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe) and her career.

Backstage at the Santa Monica, Calif., studio of Chelsea Lately, where Witherspoon was making an appearance on her good pal -- and This Means War costar -- Chelsea Handler's talk show, the This Means War actress (whose movie opens nationwide on Feb. 17) and I settled in for almost an hour of fans excitedly chiming in via typed and on-camera questions (one fan told Reese that they have a Reese Witherspoon Day in their house every year because they love her so much). It was a fun roller-coaster ride because we never knew what was coming next! (If you missed it, click here to watch it!)

Gracious and excited to interact with her fans in this exclusive iVillage live video chat powered by Spreecast, the Oscar winner -- who looks as petite and lovely in person as she does on screen -- was candid and funny as she opened up about her career and life. Here are some of the highlights from our sitdown:

On her friendship with Chelsea Handler: "I know that doesn’t sound like her personality, but she’s really a great friend. She’s the kind of person that’ll cancel all her plans if you’re in a bad mood and you just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie. And she always organizes a Super Bowl party or and invites everybody. She’s really generous that way too. She likes to give a lot of good gifts."

On her menagerie of animals at home: "I have three dogs, I have two horses, I have 21 chickens and I have two goats -- oh it goes on -- I have two donkeys and I have two pigs named Booker T. Washington and Valentine, Lavender Valentine."

On her family life: "I have a pretty normal life, outside of what I do for a living -- which is kind of crazy and I travel a lot and I get to go on talk shows and all that kind of fun stuff. I have a pretty regular life. I get the kids off to school in the morning and I go to work at my office and pick them up from school and hang out. And we like to cook and jump on the trampoline a lot. My daughter and I are obsessed with the trampoline and my son and I like to throw the football around or we’ll play basketball in the driveway and that’s pretty much it. We watch The Voice a lot. Like all the singers, I get excited when they get chosen."

On staying in shape: "I’m just always interested in being healthy, so I exercise even if I have a really early call at work. I’ll get up really early and exercise even if I only get on like a treadmill for 30 minutes. It’s good, it wakes me up, it makes me feel better. And you know I’m lucky I get to stay in hotels that have a gym in them. It makes it a lot easier."

On her domestic-violence work: "I’m really excited about the work that I’ve been doing campaigning to end domestic violence. I think it’s something that people don’t talk about very much and it’s something that affects one in three women worldwide. And when you think about that, that’s somebody you know. That’s your mother, that’s your sister, that’s your girlfriend; it’s somebody in your life. So just getting people to talk about it and feel freer about coming forward and pressing charges is, it’s actually been really meaningful to me to be able to give back to so many people."

On her role models: "Probably (the) two people would be my grandmother because my mom worked a lot. She’d pick me up after school, help me with my homework and she’d always read books to me and taught me to love reading. She was a schoolteacher and she just was a real lady, she just carried herself beautifully and taught me to really respect myself. And then probably my mom. She always had three jobs. She was a teacher and she was a nurse and she just an incredibly giving, caring person."

On being a "stay-at-home mom": "I only do one movie a year so that’s about three months out of the year and the rest of the time I’m kind of a stay-at-home mom. I have an office so I go to the office while the kids are at school. But I just, I go to the basketball game and the horseback riding competitions and all that kind of stuff and I really enjoy being a parent. It’s a real grounding experience and you know, I like the other parents. It’s fun."

On her love of scary movies: "I love scary movies! I watch a lot of scary movies but nobody else in my house wants to watch them so I watch them by myself. Especially American Horror Story, that TV show, that new one that’s so scary? I love it! I’d love to do something like when Nicole Kidman did that movie The Others, that was a real period kind of movie. I think that would be really great."

On women she admires: "Marian Wright Edelman is one of the foremost advocates for children’s rights in America. I love Gloria Steinem, I think she’s incredible. I’m loving (New York) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, I think she’s got incredible things to say and is working on some really interesting initiatives. I look at many people’s careers, Holly Hunter, and Frances McDormand, and Diane Keaton, women who’ve really had long and wonderful careers where they create great characters and just seem to be endlessly interesting and fascinating to watch."

On beauty versus brains: "I would have to go with brains, you know. Beauty fades. Being smart is forever."

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Serena Kappes is iVillage's Entertainment Editorial Director. Follow her on Twitter: @serenakappes

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