The young blonde actress has been rising to hollywood stardom with appearances in movies like "Cruel Intentions" and "Legally Blonde". Laura Jean Reese Witherspoon, born March 22, 1976, was raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Considering both of her parents held occupations in the medical field, Reese grew up expecting to become a doctor, although she always knew in her heart that she wanted to be an actress. While growing up in Nashville, a hot spot especially known for its country-music talent, Reese was exposed to the entertainment industry at a very early age. Her career in the spotlight began at 7 years of age when she was introduced to the world of modeling. This exposure eventually enabled her to break onto the small screen by appearing in several television commercials. After winning a ten-state talent search, Reese began to receive recognition for her acting and modeling abilities. At the age of fourteen, she landed her first lead acting role in Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon. This role in particular kick-started Reese's film career, and soon after, she found herself starring in two more made-for-TV movies: 1991's Wildflower and Desperate Choices: To Save My Child one year later.
Upon completion of high school, Reese began receiving offers to appear in higher caliber films, including Jack the Bear (alongside Hollywood heavyweights Danny DeVito and Gary Sinise) and Disney's A Far Off Place, both of which were released in 1993. The following year, Reese decided to put her acting career on hold for a little while, and enrolled in Stanford University to major in English Literature.
This decision to pursue her studies was curbed shortly thereafter, when she accepted to star in two more big-screen productions -- both of which were slated for 1996 release dates. First came Fear, in which she portrayed a frightened teenager terrorized by her psychotic boyfriend (Mark Wahlberg, in one of his earlier roles). In the second film, Freeway, she was cast alongside Kiefer Sutherland, in yet another dramatic role as a victimized teenager. Both roles pushed Reese well beyond her prior acting experiences and ultimately opened new doors for her as a rising starlet in Hollywood.
The following years found Reese starring in more prestigious film projects. In 1998, she appeared opposite legendary screen icons Paul Newman, Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon in Robert Benton's Twilight and later that year she starred in Pleasantville along with fellow up-and-comer Tobey Maguire.
1999 was a big year for Reese in more ways than one. Her career was elevated to an even higher level by starring in two more box-office hits, Cruel Intentions (with Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Election (Reese wowed critics with her dark comedic performance in the latter). While filming Cruel Intentions, Reese and co-star Ryan Phillippe became involved in a serious off-screen romance, which eventually led to their engagement in March of 1999. The pair married on June 5, 1999, in South Carolina and announced shortly thereafter that they were expecting their first child in the coming months.
After a brief break from the acting scene, Reese returned in February of 2000 with a guest spot on the hit NBC sitcom, Friends. She starred in a few episodes as the younger sister of Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston). Later on that year, she reappeared on the big screen in two more films, American Psycho and Little Nicky. She had relatively small roles in both films, however, in 2001, she once again found herself starring as the leading lady in Legally Blonde.
Reese is currently keeping herself extremely busy by juggling marriage, motherhood and her career. Next up on her acting agenda will be the lead role in the big-screen reprisal of stylish 1960s small-screen detective, Honey West. In addition to this, she is slated to produce (a first in her career) and star in Slow Motion, a story about a college girl who finds herself in a heated affair with her roommate's father.
Reese Witherspoon: America's Sweetheart
The marketing plan behind her latest film, "Sweet Home Alabama," is just the latest salvo in a long-running media campaign geared toward driving that particular designation home: Reese Witherspoon, America's sweetheart.
And sure, Reese is cute, she's huggable, she's bubbly. But what sets her apart from the handful of better-known and certainly worthy "sweetheart" title holders, from Meg Ryan to Julia Roberts?
"She's America's sweetheart, but with a bit of an edge," offered Patrick Dempsey, who stars opposite the blonde superstar in "Sweet Home Alabama." "I mean, look at 'Election' [and] 'Legally Blonde.' She's a strong, powerful, smart, opinionated, talented, beautiful woman."
"She chooses her material brilliantly," said former "Murphy Brown" star Candice Bergen, who plays Reese's potential mother-in-law in her latest flick. "She doesn't make a false step. You look at the list of Reese's movies and she's a very smart young woman and just is really in charge of her career in a way that's really impressive."
"You know, everybody talks about how smart she is," director Andy Tennant agreed. "She's a bright girl. She's kind of a combination of Meg Ryan and Jodie Foster. She's got the adorable, cuddly, lovable part that is Meg. But she's also fiercely intelligent and very good with material and looks at the world pretty seriously. And that kind of combination is for me really, really attractive."
What does Reese make of the comparison? ''It's very flattering, and I love Meg Ryan,'' Reese said. ''But I don't really think of myself as one thing or the other. I try and just challenge myself and do something different and pick roles that I like to play and be in movies I want to see.''
And while last year's "Legally Blonde" certainly had a few things in common with a movie called "Clueless," Witherspoon's careful choice of roles during her decade-plus ascent to marquee status has proven her to be anything but. An actress from the age of 14, Witherspoon displayed strength and versatility in the 1996 teen stalker flick "Fear" and a taste for the strange in the decidedly adult "Freeway."
Even in movies like "Cruel Intentions" and "Pleasantville," which targeted youthful audiences, it was Reese's spot-on performances that combined with the filmmakers' meticulous execution to bring a subtle sophistication to the films.
In the left-of-center "Election" Witherspoon truly shined, strutting her stuff as the tightly wound, defiantly perky and frighteningly obsessive high school class presidential candidate Tracy Flick.
"I see myself as a character actress," Reese explained. "I'm always interested in eccentric characters. It was almost harder for me to do a role like ['Sweet Home Alabama' where
I used more of my own real voice. That's more challenging to me . I like that stuff. It's fun.''
"Reese is an actor's actor in many ways," according to Josh Lucas, another of her recent co-stars. "I wouldn't put her in the territory of the common movie star. Her work is incredibly precise and somewhat challenging, and she's not afraid to put herself in a bit of a dark light in a sense, to play a bitch or to play someone who's off-kilter to some extent."
"She has tremendous respect amongst the acting community, which is rare for a 'movie star,' " he continued. "The thing about Reese is she's massively intelligent."
It was certainly an underlying intelligence — a hidden smartness that mirrored Reese's real-life persona — that separated Reese's otherwise fluffy "Legally Blonde" character Elle Woods from similarly shallow-appearing Barbies in likeminded films starring other "sweethearts."
Sure, Elle may have danced in a Ricky Martin video, she may have designed a line of faux fur panties and yeah, she perfumed her pink résumé before delivering it to a prestigious potential employer. But she also graduated with top honors from Harvard and saved an innocent woman from jail.
It was Reese's comedic talent that drove "Legally Blonde." The fish-out-of-water college comedy was unquestionably the movie that pushed the Tennessee native's career to new heights, proving that she could carry a flick all by her lonesome and even securing her the clout to become a producer.
Director Andy Tennant, who previously helmed the sober "Anna and the King" with Chow Yun-Fat and Jodie Foster, was one Hollywood player who was paying close attention to "Legally Blonde"'s opening numbers while laying his plans for "Sweet Home Alabama."
"On Friday she wasn't on the list [to star in 'Alabama']," he admitted. "On Monday, she was at the top of the list."
Reese is now head of Type A Films, a production company with a handful of movies on its plate including a pro tennis flick and "Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde." She will co-produce and star in the sequel, and she'll reportedly receive a $15 million paycheck for her efforts.
"She deserves all of the money she's getting," Dempsey offered. "She's making people a lot of money, so she should get some of that money. And if it was a guy, no one would say anything about the money she's making."
"It's nice to be compensated and to be appreciated and to be acknowledged that you can open a movie," Reese, visibly uncomfortable with the subject, admitted. "I was sort of raised to not really talk about money. I would never ask somebody how much money they're making. So it feels a little bit impolite. But I suppose it's interesting to someone."
Interesting, probably, to any young girl contemplating a career in film. Candice Bergen pointed out that when she got in the game, there were no multitasking, smart-project-choosing Witherspoons to look up to. Today Reese is one "sweetheart" who has risen the bar for what an outwardly appearing "cuddly" blonde can manage with intelligence, passion for the craft and serious comedic chops.
"I think if people can be inspired by what you do [that's a good thing]," Reese said modestly. "I mean, I've certainly been inspired by a lot of people that came before me. It's infinitely helpful when I get advice or support or encouragement from them. That would be great if I could inspire somebody."
Mira Nair asked Witherspoon to get pregnant before "Vanity Fair"
Director Mira Nair has revealed that before she started shooting for her movie 'Vanity Fair,' she asked actress Reese Witherspoon, who plays the lead role in the movie, to get pregnant so that she would get a fuller figure.
The critically acclaimed director said that she had gone for diner to Witherspoon's house before the movie started filming and she asked Witherspoon's actor husband, Ryan Philippe, to 'knock her up,' reports Female First.
"I am not a fan of underfed Los Angeles actresses so the year before we began filming, I had dinner at her home and told her husband to knock her up... and he did," the report quoted Nair as saying.
"It had a wonderful effect on her luminosity and womanliness. In those days the dresses had plunging necklines. It was the bosom that I wanted and I certainly got that," she added.
Motherhood helps Reese Witherspoon select better roles!
Reese Witherspoon has revealed that motherhood is her secret behind choosing better movie roles. The 'Legally Blonde' star, who is mother to five-year old Ava, and one-year old Deacon, says that since she is determined to devote maximum time to her family, she has to pick her film roles carefully, and as a result ends up with better roles.
"Motherhood's great. I don't work as much now, because I can't. I'm too busy with the kids. I want to spend all the time I have with them. So it's changed in that sense," she was quoted by the FemaleFirst, as saying.
" I have to be very particular about what I do because I only do one movie a year. But that's actually better. It really helps you make good, clear decisions as regards what's best for the family," she added.
Reese Witherspoon's drastic hair change
Reese Witherspoon says dying her hair brown hasn't stopped her being recognised by fans.
The sexy star, who got rid of her trademark blonde tresses to play Johnny Cash's wife, June Carter Cash, in forthcoming movie, 'Walk The Line', says her new image hasn't provided her with any more freedom.
She is quoted by Britain's Daily Express newspaper as saying: "People do seem to recognise me, even with this hair.
"I though I'd have people fooled but when I flew into the airport yesterday, pretty much everybody knew it was me."
But the Hollywood beauty, who has two children five-year-old Ava and Deacon, one, with heartthrob star husband Ryan Phillippe, says she thought her new look would have made it difficult for fans to recognise her.
The 28-year-old actress admitted she is still confused as to how people managed to pick her out so quickly.
She added: "I was saying to them 'You're not supposed to know it's me - I'm hiding.
"I still don't know how they figured it out.
"Somebody told me it was my smile, another lady said it was my eyes. People are savvy, I guess."
Earlier this year the 'Legally Blonde' star, who previously dyed her hair for Hollywood movie, 'Vanity Fair', admitted she changed her hair colour in a bid to gain a greater sense of anonymity.
She said: "Nobody knows who I am. Everybody walks right past me. It's a nice reprieve from my normal self."
Hubby browned off with brunette Reese
Reese Witherspoon’s new brunette look may have gone down a storm at the premier of her latest film, Vanity Fair, but it doesn’t cut it with her husband.
Fellow Hollywood star Ryan Phillippe is said to be pining for his little blonde bombshell after she went and dyed her hair for "a nice change".
A friend of the couple reports: "Ryan had no idea she was going to go brunette, she just turned up like it one day.
He hardly recognised her and although he laid on the compliments about how hot she looked, he actually prefers her blonde."
Phillippe has decided to put up with his wife’s new look though.
"She’s assured him she’s going to go back to being blonde, so he doesn’t have to worry," adds our source.
Reese Witherspoon Stars in the Fun, Sexy and Sumptuous Romantic Adventure 'Vanity Fair'
Arriving on DVD February 1, 2005, Just in Time for Valentine's Day From Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon delivers "the performance of her career" (Fox TV) in the glamorous and sexy epic "Vanity Fair," coming to DVD and VHS on February 1, 2005. Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding") directs this lush and lively romantic adventure about one of the greatest female characters of all time, Becky Sharp, who schemes and seduces her way to the top until love and romance threaten to get in the way. Fans of this captivating film will delight in the DVD's extensive bonus features, which include behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and filmmakers, as well as deleted scenes. Arriving in stores just in time for Valentine's Day, the DVD is priced at $29.98 SRP; the VHS is $23.98.
Nominated for two Satellite Awards including Best Art Direction & Production Design (Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald) and Best Costume Design (Beatrix Aruna Pasztor), and nominated for the London Film Critics' Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actress (Eileen Atkins), the film features a spectacular supporting cast including Oscar(R) winner Jim Broadbent ("Iris," "Moulin Rouge!"), Oscar(R) nominee Bob Hoskins ("Mona Lisa," "Maid in Manhattan"), Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("Bend It Like Beckham," "Alexander"), Gabriel Byrne ("The Usual Suspects," "Assault on Precinct 13"), Romola Garai ("I Capture the Castle," "Rory O'Shea Was Here"), and Eileen Atkins ("Cold Mountain," "Gosford Park").
Reese Witherspoon gives a vibrant, captivating performance as one of the greatest female characters of all time, in the sumptuous epic from acclaimed director Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding"). This sexy, passionate adventure tells the story of Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon), who yearns for a more glamorous life than her birthright promises. Becky schemes and seduces her way to the top of society by any means possible, deploying all her wit, guile, and sexuality. But intrigue and romance collide as Becky's schemes turn a society that would not accept her into one that could not resist her.
Reese Witherspoon denies her marriage to Ryan Phillippe is shaky
Actress Reese Witherspoon has denied tabloid reports her marriage is shaky and is "befuddled by all the interest" in her while she buys groceries.
In an interview with the BBC, the mother of two and star of "Vanity Fair" and "Legally Blonde" said her marriage to Hollywood heart-throb Ryan Phillippe is fine and dismissed tabloid reports to the contrary.
"When you know what's real, you know what's real and we laugh," she said. "It's amazing the kind of things that people can make up in their minds."
With her hair now auburn for her upcoming role as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biography "Walk The Line," she also questioned why there was interest in her mundane chores.
"I'm still befuddled by all the interest, especially the pictures of me at the grocery store," she said. "Because I am, I'm a slob like you people, it's true."
Vanity Fair Star Reese Witherspoon Feared Hubby Would Be A Jerk
WITHERSPOON'S PUREFOY FEARS
REESE WITHERSPOON was nervous prior to shooting her latest movie VANITY FAIR, fearing co-star JAMES PUREFOY would be a "jerk" over her pregnancy.
Doctors confirmed the Hollywood beauty was expecting her second child just weeks before entering the studio to shoot scenes for the MIRA NAIR period drama, and she was concerned Purefoy would add even more tension to the fragile state-of-mind her raging hormones had created.
But much to Witherspoon's delight, Purefoy turned out to be a real comfort during filming - unlike many of her past male co-stars.
She says, "I was nervous about my co-star James Purefoy, obviously, because I was pregnant and he was going to be my love interest
"I didn't know if he was going to be a jerk, but he was so lovely, such a gentleman. And there's a lot of actors I've worked with that I can't say that about.
"But I really liked him, we bonded a lot. So it was a good experience."
Reese's new movie - 'horrifying experience'
Reese Witherspoon claims making her new movie was the "most horrifying" experience of her life.
The stunning actress had to learn to sing, record an album and perform live concerts for her role as June Carter Cash in upcoming film 'Walk the Line' - and she found it all absolutely terrifying.
Reese is quoted by TV channel MTV: "It's been really, really one of the hardest movies I've ever had to make.
I had to do four months of rehearsals. I had to learn to play autoharp. I had to take singing lessons. I had to record an album, which was the most challenging, horrifying experience of my life. Me singing in front of people while they're listening to me is just horrifying.
And it gets exponentially horrifying when extras show up and have to watch you and you have to pretend you're at a concert and singing and they like it."
The actress co-stars in the movie with Joaquin Phoenix, who plays country music legend Johnny Cash.
Reese Witherspoon never to strip on-screen again
Reese Witherspoon has vowed never to strip on-screen again - because she has "cellulite and saggy boobs".
The stunning Hollywood star has previously appeared scantily clad in movies such as 'Legally Blonde' and 'Cruel Intentions', where she was happy to show off her gorgeous body. However, since having her two children, Ava, four, and Deacon, nine months, with actor husband Ryan Phillippe, the actress admits she has become insecure about her body.
She said: "I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. My breasts are not what they were before I breast-fed two children. If I ever have to do a bikini scene, it will become a kaftan scene."
The 29-year-old star also revealed she tries to avoid making movies which involve her flaunting her sexuality. Witherspoon, who admits she is prudish because of her strict upbringing, added in an interview with America's Vanity Fair magazine: "I'm trying to make movies that have nothing to do with my body. It makes me nervous when I see a woman with her midriff showing.
When I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to wear bikinis because it was inappropriate.