“Sweet Home Alabama” Star Shares How The Movie Affected His Career

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The romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama was released in 2002 to mixed reviews despite earning big at the box office.

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, and Patrick Dempsey, the film has endured in pop culture and has become a very quotable film thanks to its hilarious lines like, “You have a baby! In a bar!” and “Why do you wanna marry me anyhow?”

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What is “Sweet Home Alabama” about?

Witherspoon played Melanie Smooter/Carmichael, who flees her poor, small-town life in Alabama for bigger and better things in New York City. After becoming a successful fashion designer using the name Melanie Carmichael to hide her roots, she gets engaged to the mayor’s son, Andrew Hemmings, played by Patrick Dempsey.

Quickly after the engagement, she has to go home to Alabama to get divorced from her high school sweetheart, but of course her new fiancé doesn’t know she’s already married, has a different last name, or isn’t from a wealthy Southern family.

Melanie and Jake Perry, portrayed by Josh Lucas, were childhood sweethearts. They fight often and do things to try and hurt each other before they both eventually let their walls down and talk about why they broke up – they suffered a miscarriage and Melanie fled to New York, thinking Jake didn’t follow her, but he did. Once he saw her flourishing in New York, he returned to Alabama to “make something of himself” and once he did, he would go back to The Big Apple to find her.

Jake ended up creating an incredible glass business and owns a resort where he sells his work, which Melanie finds out very late into the movie.

Josh Lucas ad Jake Perry and Reese Witherspoon as Melanie Smooter in “Sweet Home Alabama.” (Photo: Daily Celebz / X)

Melanie’s fiancé Andrew shows up unannounced and Melanie has to tell him the truth about her marriage, her poor upbringing, but despite all of that, he still wants to marry her. They put together a wedding in her hometown which attracts hundreds of guests thanks to his and his mother’s political connections.

To finally give her what she wanted, Jake signed the divorce papers, but on the day of her wedding to Andrew, it was revealed that she hadn’t signed yet. She ends up leaving Andrew at the altar to find Jake and tell them they are still married and that she wants to be with him.

At the end of the movie, we find out that Melanie and Jake have returned to New York together, where she continues to be a successful designer. He also opens a Deep South Glass franchise in the city and they have a daughter.

How did the movie do at the box office?

Sweet Home Alabama earned over $35 million in its first weekend and held a record for the highest September movie opening for 10 years. The movie made $21.3 million the second weekend. In total, Sweet Home Alabama grossed over $184 million at the box office. The movie made over $128 million in DVD and VHS sales.

With a budget of $30 million, it was a huge success!

Josh Lucas references Sweet Home Alabama in a new interview.

Taking part in Vanity Fair‘s Reunited series, Lucas and his American Psycho co-star Chloë Sevigny interview each other. Coincidentally, Reese Witherspoon was also in the film with them!

Sevigny asked him if his good looks have gotten in the way of his acting career.

“You’re obviously a very nice [looking] guy. was there a typecasting thing that you had to bump up against? I feel like some men with that kind of look, it gets in the way,” she said.

He responded,

“I was thoroughly dismissed for it, frankly. It was like, “Oh, you’re an LA TV guy. You’re a pretty boy LA TV guy.” I couldn’t break through that door. And then it’s frankly always been a bit of a, “Oh, you’re a Sweet Home Alabama guy.” I consciously—and probably did very difficult damage to my career—was trying so hard to fight against that. I did a thousand independent movies that nobody saw. I tried to be Sean Penn in all of them.”

Even though he has been working non-stop since Sweet Home Alabama, people continuously stop him on the street saying he’s the guy from Sweet Home Alabama. More recently he is known as young John Dutton from the hit show Yellowstone. He is also an Emmy Award contender thanks to his role in the dark comedy Palm Royale, in which he stars alongside Kristen Wiig.