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Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born 22nd March 1976 in New Orleans to John and Betty Witherspoon.

Reese’s father is a surgeon specialising in the ear and nose. Her mother, Betty, who earned five separate degrees, including a Ph.D in pediatric nursing, went on to become a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University. Ms. Witherspoon has an older brother who works as a real estate broker (and once as Reese’s assistant). The Witherspoons are a direct descendant of John Witherspoon, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and founder of Princeton University.

Reese spend the first four years of her life in Wiesbaden, Germany where her father was a lieutenant colonel in the US Army reserves. After this, the family would return to America to settle in Nashville, Tennessee.

Because of her family‚Äôs inclination toward medicine, Reese Witherspoon had planned to become a doctor. At school, the self-confessed “huge book dork”, she achieved excellent grades, and would be taken on at the famous Harpeth Hall, where she’d be both a cheerleader and twice a debutante. Very ambitious since young age, her parents would call her “Little Miss Type A”. “My mother still thinks that this acting thing is a hobby, and one day I’m going to tell her I want to become a brain surgeon or something,” Reese says.


Year Book picture

Modeling

Reese in high school

‘The Man in the Moon’

When she was mere 7-years old, the parents of a friend decided to run an ad for their flower shop and little Reese was chosen as the model. Immediately, she was hooked, beginning acting lessons and forming day dreams of movie stardom while taking on more modelling gigs. By 11, she won a 10 State Talent Award.

In 1990, Reese and her friends decided to try out as extras for a film being shot near by and were given some lines to read. The casting directors were so blown away by Reese that she was flown to Los Angeles for a screen test. Within a month she was hired as the star of the film. The film in question is of course The Man in the Moon and it would end up taking the 14-year old Reese Witherspoon on the road to stardom.

After such a mature and touching performance in The Man in the Moon, the word of Reese Witherspoon’s talent spread fast. Her next role was in the 1991 production of Wildflower, a TV movie directed by Diane Keaton. Reese’s impressive performance lead her to the TV movie Desperate Choices: To Save My Child, directed by Andy Tennant (who would later on direct her again in Sweet Home Alabama), in which Reese portrayed a young girl with leukaemia and in severe need of a bone marrow transplant. The performance earned Reese her second Young Artist Award nomination.

Roles in more high profile films followed shortly after. In 1993, Reese was seen as a smart little South African in A Far Off Place, which was shot on location in Namibia and Zimbabwe. “I don’t think you’re worldly enough at 16 to travel that far and really appreciate the experience. A hundred and seventy-five adults camping out in tents like they were children? They were wonderful but it brings out the animal in people. Really. Honestly. We all ate together, showered together and slept together in one tent. It was crazily incestuous, and out of that came a lot of bizarre behaviour that really made me… I really didn’t know if I was going to work again after that. I grew up that summer in Africa, really.”

But work she did. Although Reese had a smaller role in Marshall Herskovitz’ Jack the Bear, starring Danny DeVito as a depressed seventies horror show host, she would finally win that Young Artist Award for her part. During 1993, Miss Witherspoon also has a part in the mini series Return to Lonesome Dove, sequel to the classic Lonesome Dove. “It was nice; we sort of dressed up and rode around on horses for a while. It’s really rigorous shooting television, though, and I’ve stopped doing it because it’s a really hard schedule to keep up with. It’s a lot tougher than being on a movie; you don’t have a lot of time to get into your character or prepare, or feel like you’re doing a good job.” She also dated rising actor Chris O’Donnell for a while.


‘A Far Off Place’

‘Desperate Choices’

‘Lonesome Dove’

Out & about in 1993

Following high school graduation from Harpeth Hall in 1994, Ms. Witherspoon was next seen as Wendy in S.F.W., starring alongside Stephen Dorff. Next she decided to put her acting career on hold to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. There Reese studied English literature for one year but unfortunately the experience left her in disappointment. “I thought I was going to have a community experience that would be incredibly inspiring but everybody was just drinking beer and running around to frat parties.” Reese put her Stanford studies on hold when she realized she really wanted to pursue acting seriously.

In 1996 Reese took on a very risque film, Freeway, which is still considered her juiciest role to date by many fans. Reese plays Vanessa Lutz in this very violent Little Red Riding Hood for the 1990s. “I met with the director and I decided that this is what life is about – you’re an actor and you have to take risks and say things that people don’t have the courage to say. I went into the film with that attitude and I think that really helped. I was still scared. It was like a personal accomplishment to get through every day.” Reese has since stated that Freeway was the film that really made her want to be an actress.

Next Reese starred as Nicole Walker in Fear, in which she plays a good girl who falls for Mark Wahlberg’s mysterious David and is later on terrorized by him. The couple were attracted to each other in real life too and dated briefly but broke up because they were simply too different. Reese was not content with the film. “Fear was the straw that broke my back. That was the period where I wasn’t challenging myself. I was taking really boring – I would venture to say even misogynistic – roles. Women who weren’t exactly walking intellects,” Reese said later on. Apparently she was offered roles in Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legends, but declined all of them. “I did my horror film and it was not an experience I care to repeat… It had nothing to do with Mark. All that screaming and cowering and being tormented is not fulfilling.”


As Nicole in ‘Fear’

‘Freeway’ (1996)

Sundance (1996)

Out & about in 1996

Reese Witherspoon met Ryan Phillippe on 22nd March 1997, on her 21st birthday. Phillippe was not even sure if he’d been invited, but went along anyway for the free beer. It turns out that Reese had infact intended to invite Ryan since she had wanted to meet the actor she admired. And out of over 300 guests, they met. Reese and Ryan hit off immediately. However, next morning Ryan was forced to leave Los Angeles to shoot the teen horror I Know What You Did Last Summer. This could have been it for Reese and Ryan’s relationship but the couple kept in touch by writing and calling each other daily. Ryan sent her his favorite book, Reese returned the compliment by sending hers – Graham Greene’s The End Of The Affair. “It’s like, the best way to get to know someone on an intellectual level. By the time we saw each other again, it was kind of like love at second sight, you know. It was wonderful.” They had their first date five weeks after they met and once Ryan returned to Los Angeles, the couple has been inseparable ever since.

1998 was a big year for Reese, both personally and professionally. She was seen in Twilight, taking the screen next to such Hollywood heavyweights as Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman. Unfortunately fact that she disrobed for the film caused more attention than any of the acting she did. Reese did not put much emphasis on this. “It’s very inconsequential… It’s natural.” Reese played the eccentric stripper Ivy in Overnight Delivery and won the heart of Paul Rudd and many movie goers’ with her quirky performance. After this came the wonderful Pleasantville, in which Reese is a modern girl who ends up getting stuck in a black and white fifties sit-com world with her brother (Tobey Maguire). Reese’s character teaches the good folk of Pleasantville the wonders of sex and passion, which ends up turning the town upside town and eventually in color.

Reese was next seen in Cruel Intentions, a film which she first hesitated doing but with the help of some alcohol, her soon-to-be husband convinced her to take on the part of Annette Hargrove. Soon the couple was also united on-screen and they chemistry was steamy! Reese gained respect as a comedic actress as Tracy Enid Flick in Election, which is still one of Reese’s best loved and most critically acclaimed performances. Election also gained Reese her first Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations among many others, and she took home the NSFC Award for Best Actress at the National Society of Film Critics Awards. In 1999, Reese was also seen as Lissa in the clever and stylish neo-noir Best Laid Plans.

Ryan proposed to Reese in December 1998 while on vacation at The Planter’s Inn in Charleston, South Carolina. Shortly after Reese, who always had said she wanted to be a young mother, announced to the public that the couple was expecting their first child. Reese and Ryan married on 5th June 1999 on a plantation in Charleston, her being 7 months pregnant at the time. On 9th September, the happy couple welcomed their bundle of joy, little Ava Elizabeth, into the world.


With Ryan in 1998

Set of ‘Intentions’

Baby Ava (1998)

As Tracy Flick

Reese took a small break from work for the later half of 1999 to be with her daughter. She decided to take up acting again with a guest spot on her favorite series, Friends, as Jennifer Aniston’s sister. Reese’s next on-screen venture was the role of the superficial rich girl Evelyn in American Psycho, based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel. The film was shot while she was pregnant with Ava. Reese also had a small part as an angel in the Adam Sandler comedy Little Nicky and appeared as one of the voice actors in The Trumpet of the Swan.

Legally Blonde (2001) made Reese Witherspoon a full-blown star. Reese is Elle Woods, a sorority queen dumped by her snob boyfriend for being too blonde – not smart or sopphisticated enough. When he goes off to study Law at Harvard, Elle follows, desperate to win him back… Until once there she learns where her true ambitions recide. Needless to say, Legally Blonde was a major hit! It earned Reese her second Golden Globe nomination among several other nods. While some other actress might have continued to take on more huge Hollywood comedies, Reese and Ryan packed their bags for London. She was to star in an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest while him in Gosford Park.

The first movie shot in New York City after the September 11th attacks, Sweet Home Alabama saw Reese as a famous designer in the Big Apple who is forced to face her past as a country girl in Alabama. Reese was cast the same weekend that Legally Blonde opened and proved to be well worth her $5 million paycheck. $5 million might seem like a thin amount next to the $15 million she’d receive for reprising her role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White And Blonde. This time the blonde marched off to Washington DC to fight for animal rights. Legally Blonde 2 also saw the beginning for Reese as a producer.

Meanwhile, Reese announced she was pregnant with her second child on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 2nd May 2003. She had already signed up for Vanity Fair, an adaption of the classic novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. Suprisingly, no one was happier than the film’s director, Mira Nair, to find out that Reese was pregnant! She even tells a story of asking Ryan to knock up his wife because she felt Becky needed some serious curves! In order to fit Reese’s growing belly in the movie, some scenes were re-written and so the pregnant Reese flew to London to film Vanity Fair.


‘Legally Blonde’ (2001)

‘Sweet Home Alabama’

Pregnant with Deacon

As Becky Sharp

On 23rd October 2003, Ms. Witherspoon gave birth to Deacon Phillippe. She took some time off to take care of her children and be with her family. During the summer of 2004, Reese dyed her famous blonde locks dark and started working on a chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, in which she portrayed June Carter. Reese saw Walk the Line as a huge challenge and we would, among many other things, see her play music and sing! Vanity Fair opened in September 2004 and Reese travelled to Venice, Italy to promote the film. Once she returned, she dyed her hair back to blonde, cut it shorter and started filming Just Like Heaven in November. In the film Reese portrays a young woman who gets into a car accident and comes back as spirit to haunt an architect played by Mark Ruffalo. The film opened in September 2005, received mixed reviews but was well loved by the fans and Reese herself, who says that it is one of her favorites.

Walk the Line premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2005 and Reese would receive rave reviews and buzz from almost every possible critic during the year. In March, 2006, Reese was nominated and won her first Oscar for Best Actress for her lovely portrayal of June Carter. Looking beautiful and every bit a star, Reese dazzled the red carpet in a vintage Christian Dior gown which she helped restore herself. During her emotional and touching speech, Reese said, “People used to ask June how she was doing, and she used to say – ‘I’m just trying to matter.’ And I know what she means. You know, I’m just trying to matter, and live a good life and make work that means something to somebody. And you have all made me feel that I might have accomplished that tonight.”

The unfortunate news broke on 30th October 2006 when Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe announced their separation after seven years of marriage. The statement released by the couple’s representatives said: “We are saddened to announce that Reese and Ryan have decided to formally separate. They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time.” On 9th November Reese officially filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason. In her petition to Los Angeles Superior Court, Witherspoon sought custody of the couple’s two children. Their divorce was finalized a year later, in October 2007.


‘Heaven’ Promotion

‘Walk The Line’ (2005)

An Oscar winner

Out in 2007

Reese kept low profile during the difficult time but did appear as Isabella El-Ibrahimi in the political drama Rendition. The movie, directed by Gavin Hood, was filmed late 2006 and opened in October 2007. It sees Reese star among a great variety of talent, including Meryl Streep and Jake Gyllenhaal, with whom Reese has been attached to ever since the shooting of the film. Reese also appeared in a comedy named Penelope. It sees Christina Ricci in the title role as a girl with a pig’s nose. Reese co-stars as Annie and produced the movie, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2006. It will finally open in the US in February 2008. Besides being recently named the new face of Avon in 2007, Witherspoon will next film and produce Four Christmases alongside Vince Vaughn. It will take Reese back to the comedy genre, which she loves doing.

Ms. Witherspoon remains humble but grateful for the attention. Attention, however, is not always a good thing in the life of an actor. In the past few years Reese has had clashes with the paparazzi photographers. They have caused several life threathening situations to our favorite actress and her family. Reese actively speaks against the illegal and dangerous activities that the photographers engage in just to get a snap of a celebrity.

Being a self-identified feminist and certainly a very intelligent and thoughtful woman, Reese is looking forward to producing interesting projects about and for strong and intellectual women. She says that she is inspired by women like Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Frances McDormand and Holly Hunter and would love to work with the Coen brothers, Peter Jackson and Jim Jarmusch some day. Ms. Witherspoon is also very active in various charities and organizations relating to children and women’s rights. Reese’s hobbies include collecting antique linens, reading, cooking and she is crazy about old embroidery. She currently recides in Los Angeles with her children and dogs. “It’s nice to come home to what’s real”, Reese says. Armed with a contagious smile and a great talent, Reese Witherspoon remains one of today’s most versatile, acclaimed and best loved actress. One thing is for sure; she is here to stay and we are here to watch – for many more years to come!






To celebrate our 16 years online, here we are spotlighting 16 of our favourite Reese things from the past 16 years. You will see a new one upon refreshing or changing the page.

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Current Projects
Sing (2016)
Role: Rosita (voice)
Genre: Animated musical comedy
On DVD/Blu-ray/Digital HD now
News / Info / Photos / Official Site


Big Little Lies (2017)
Role: Madeline
Genre: HBO TV Series - Drama
Available on Digital HD download now
News / Info / Photos / Official Site


Home Again (2017)
Role: Alice
Genre: Romantic Comedy
In US cinemas now
News / Info / Photos / Official Site


A Wrinkle In Time (2017)
Role: Mrs Whatsit
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
To be released March 9th 2018 (US)
News / Info / Photos / Official Site

Full Filmography      


Rumoured/Unconfirmed Roles:
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
The Dry
Barbie origins project
In A Dark, Dark Wood
Untitled Rob Long Project
The Thing About Jellyfish
All Is Not Forgotten
Cold
Three Little Words
Tink
Pale Blue Dot
Rumoured Roles News   → All Projects In Development





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