Reese Witherspoon

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Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon May 2011 (cropped).jpg
Witherspoon in May 2011.
BornLaura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
(1976-03-22) March 22, 1976 (age 38)[1]
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1991–present
Spouse(s)
Children3
 
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Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon May 2011 (cropped).jpg
Witherspoon in May 2011.
BornLaura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
(1976-03-22) March 22, 1976 (age 38)[1]
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1991–present
Spouse(s)
Children3

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born March 22, 1976), professionally known as Reese Witherspoon, is an American actress and producer.[2] Witherspoon landed her first feature role as the female lead in the film The Man in the Moon in 1991. In 1996, Witherspoon appeared in Freeway, and in 1998, she starred in Pleasantville. For her role in 1999's Election, she earned a Golden Globe nomination.

2001 marked her career's turning point with the breakout role as Elle Woods in the box-office hit Legally Blonde, and in 2002 she starred in Sweet Home Alabama, which became her biggest commercial film success to date. 2003 saw her return as lead actress and executive producer of Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. In 2005, Witherspoon received worldwide attention and praise for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, which earned her an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In 1999, she married actor Ryan Phillippe; the couple separated in late 2006 and divorced in October 2007. In 2011 she married talent agent Jim Toth. Witherspoon owns a production company, Pacific Standard, and she is actively involved in children's and women's advocacy organizations. She serves on the board of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chair of the charitable Avon Foundation. On December 1, 2010, Witherspoon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Early life and education[edit]

Witherspoon was born at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, while her father, John Draper Witherspoon Sr., was a student at Tulane University medical school.[3][4] Her father is a Georgia-born otolaryngologist who previously served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve.[5][6] Her mother, Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (née Reese), is from Harriman, Tennessee, has a Ph.D. in pediatric nursing, and works as a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University.[6][7][8] Witherspoon has claimed descent from Scottish-born John Witherspoon, who signed the United States Declaration of Independence;[9][10] this claim has not been verified by the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence genealogists.[11] Because Witherspoon's father worked for the U.S. military in Wiesbaden, Germany, she lived there for four years as a child.[7][12] After returning to the U.S., she spent her childhood in Nashville, Tennessee.[7][12][13] She was raised as an Episcopalian.[14]

At the age of seven, Witherspoon was selected as a fashion model for a florist's television advertisements, which motivated her to take acting lessons.[15][16] At age eleven, she took first place in the Ten-State Talent Fair.[15] She received good grades in school;[15] she loved reading and considered herself "a big dork who read loads of books."[4] On mentioning her love for books, she said, "I get crazy in a bookstore. It makes my heart beat hard because I want to buy everything."[14] Witherspoon attended middle school at Harding Academy and graduated from the all-girls' Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, during which time she was a cheerleader.[17][18] She attended Stanford University as an English literature major.[19] After completing one year of studies, she left Stanford to pursue an acting career.[18]

Witherspoon is proud of the "definitive Southern upbringing" which she received. She has said that it gave her "a sense of family and tradition" and taught her about "being conscientious about people's feelings, being polite, being responsible and never taking for granted what you have in your life."[18][20] Witherspoon is described as a "multi-achiever" and was given the nickname "Little Type A" by her parents.[21][22] On discussing her early achievements, she told Interview magazine, "I just don't see any of it as that remarkable. Maybe that's the attitude I choose to have to keep me sane and keep my feet on the ground. I grew up in an environment where women accomplished a lot. And if they weren't able to, it was because they were limited by society."[6]

Acting career[edit]

Early work (1991–1998)[edit]

In 1991, Witherspoon attended an open casting call for The Man in the Moon intending to audition as a bit player.[18] She was instead cast for the lead role of Dani Trant, a 14-year-old country girl who falls in love for the first time with her 17-year-old neighbor. Her performance was regarded as "memorably touching" by Variety magazine,[23] and critic Roger Ebert commented, "Her first kiss is one of the most perfect little scenes I've ever seen in a movie."[15] For this role, Witherspoon was nominated for the Young Artist Award Best Young Actress.[24] Later that year, she made her TV acting debut in the cable movie Wildflower, directed by Diane Keaton and starring Patricia Arquette.[5][9] In 1992, Witherspoon appeared in the TV movie Desperate Choices: To Save My Child, portraying a critically ill young girl.[5] In 1993, she played a young wife in the CBS miniseries Return to Lonesome Dove and got a starring role as the leading character Nonnie Parker, a South African girl who must cross 1,250 miles (2,000 km) of the Kalahari, in the teen-aimed Disney film A Far Off Place.[5] In the same year, Witherspoon had a minor role in Jack the Bear, which garnered her the Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actress Co-star.[25] The next year, Witherspoon had another leading role as Wendy Pfister in the 1994 film S.F.W., directed by Jefery Levy.

In 1996, Witherspoon starred in two major films, she starred in the thriller Fear alongside Mark Wahlberg (whom she dated[26]) and Alyssa Milano, as Nicole Walker, a teenage girl with a handsome boyfriend who turns out to be a violent psychopath. She also starred in the lead role in black-comedy thriller Freeway, alongside Kiefer Sutherland and Brooke Shields. Her character, Vanessa Lutz, is a poor girl living in Los Angeles, who encounters a freeway serial killer on the way to her grandmother's home in Stockton.[18] The film received positive reviews from the press. Among them was the San Francisco Chronicle, with Mick LaSalle commenting, "Witherspoon, who does a shrill Texas accent, is dazzling, utterly believable in one extreme situation after the other."[27] Witherspoon's performance won her the Best Actress Award at the Cognac Police Film Festival and firmly established her as a rising star.[18][28] The making of the movie also gave Witherspoon significant acting experience; as she said, "Once I overcame the hurdle of that movie – which scared me to death – I felt like I could try anything."[19] Following completion of Freeway in 1997, Witherspoon took a break from acting in major movies for a year and began dating actor Ryan Phillippe. She returned to the screen in 1998 with major roles in three movies: Overnight Delivery, Pleasantville, and Twilight.[9][29] In Pleasantville she starred alongside Tobey Maguire in a tale about 1990s teenage siblings who are magically transported into the setting of a 1950s television series. She portrayed the sister, Jennifer, who is mainly concerned about appearances, relationships, and popularity. Her performance received good reviews and garnered her the Young Hollywood Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance.[30] Director Gary Ross said he firmly believed Witherspoon would be an outstanding movie star.[19]

Early critical success (1999–2000)[edit]

In 1999, Witherspoon starred alongside Alessandro Nivola in the drama thriller Best Laid Plans; she played Lissa, a woman who schemes with her lover Nick to escape a small dead-end town.[5] Also that year co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe in the drama film Cruel Intentions, a modern take on the 18th-century French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The San Francisco Chronicle praised her performance as Annette Hargrove: "Witherspoon is especially good in the least flashy role, and even when called upon to make a series of cute devilish faces, she pulls it off."[31] She also appeared in a music video by Marcy Playground for the film's soundtrack. Then she starred with Matthew Broderick in the film adaptation of Tom Perrotta's 1998 novel Election.[5] For her portrayal of competitive, ambitious overachiever Tracy Flick in her race for student-body president, she received vast critical acclaim and won the Best Actress Award from the National Society of Film Critics and the Online Film Critics Society, a first Golden Globe nomination and an Independent Spirit Award nomination.[32][33] Witherspoon also received a rank on the list of 100 Greatest Film Performances of All Time by Premiere.[34] Director Alexander Payne said of her, "She's got that quality that men find attractive, while women would like to be her friend. But that's just the foundation. Nobody else is as funny or brings such charm to things. She can do anything."[20] In spite of her successful performance, Witherspoon noted in an interview that she struggled to find work after completing the film, due to typecasting.[35] Analyzing the reasons behind her difficulty to find work, Witherspoon commented, "I think because the character I played was so extreme and sort of shrewish—people thought that was who I was, rather than me going in and creating a part. I would audition for things and I'd always be the second choice—studios never wanted to hire me and I wasn't losing the parts to big box office actresses but to ones who I guess people felt differently about."[6]

In 2000, Witherspoon played a supporting role in American Psycho and made a cameo appearance in Little Nicky.[29] She also guest starred in season six of Friends as Rachel Green's sister Jill.[36] The next year, Witherspoon voiced Serena in the animated film The Trumpet of the Swan, produced by Crest Animation Productions.

Worldwide recognition (2001–2004)[edit]

The 2001 film Legally Blonde marked a turning point in Witherspoon's career; she starred as Elle Woods, a fashion-merchandising major who decides to become a law student in order to follow her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School. Witherspoon said about the role, "When I read Legally Blonde, I was like, 'She's from Beverly Hills, she's rich, she's in a sorority. She has a great boyfriend. Oh yeah, she gets dumped. Who cares? I still hate her.' So we had to make sure she was the kind of person you just can't hate."[20] Legally Blonde was a box-office hit, grossing US$96 million domestically.[37] Witherspoon's performance earned her praise from critics, as the press began referring to her as "the new Meg Ryan".[38] Roger Ebert commented, "Witherspoon effortlessly animated this material with sunshine and quick wit",[39] and Salon.com noted that "she [Witherspoon] delineates Elle's character beautifully".[40] Meanwhile, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer concluded, "Witherspoon is a talented comedian who can perk up a scene just by marching in full of pep and drive and she powers this modest little comedy almost single-handedly."[41] For her work, Witherspoon garnered her second Golden Globe Best Actress nomination and an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.

In 2002, after the success of Legally Blonde, Witherspoon starred in several roles, such as Greta Wolfcastle in The Simpsons episode "The Bart Wants What It Wants", as Cecily in the comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play in which she received a Teen Choice Award nomination.[42][43] Later that year, she starred with Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey in Andy Tennant's film Sweet Home Alabama, where she played Melanie Carmichael, a young fashion designer who intends to marry a New York politician but must return to Alabama to divorce her childhood sweetheart, from whom she has been separated for seven years. Witherspoon regarded this as a "personal role", in that it reminded her of experiences she had when she moved from her hometown Nashville to Los Angeles.[44] The movie became Witherspoon's biggest box office hit to date, earning over $35 million in the opening weekend and grossing over $127 million in the U.S.[37][45] Despite the commercial success, critics gave Sweet Home Alabama negative reviews. It was called "a romantic comedy so rote, dull and predictable" by The Miami Herald,[46] and the press widely agreed that Witherspoon was the only reason the movie attracted such a large audience.[47][48] When describing Witherspoon's role in the movie, The Christian Science Monitor concluded, "She is not the movie's main attraction, she is its only attraction."[49]

In 2003, Witherspoon followed up the success of Legally Blonde by starring in the sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. Elle Woods has become a Harvard-educated lawyer who is determined to protect animals from cosmetics-industry science tests. The sequel was not as financially successful as the first movie and it generated mostly critical reviews. USA Today considered the movie "plodding, unfunny and almost cringe-worthy", but also noted that "Reese Witherspoon still does a fine job portraying the fair-haired lovable brainiac, but her top-notch comic timing is wasted on the humorless dialogue."[50] Meanwhile, Salon.com concluded that the sequel "calcifies everything that was enjoyable about the first movie".[51] Despite being panned by critics, the sequel took in over $39 million in its first five days in the U.S. box office charts and eventually grossed $90 million in the US.[52] Witherspoon received a $15 million paycheck for the role—a starting point to make her consistently one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses from 2002 until 2010.[20][53][54][55]

In 2004, Witherspoon starred in Vanity Fair, adapted from the 19th-century classic novel Vanity Fair and directed by Mira Nair. Her character, Becky Sharp, is a woman whose impoverished childhood gives her a ruthless determination to find fortune and establish herself a position in society. Witherspoon was carefully costumed to conceal that during the filming she was pregnant with her second child.[56] This pregnancy was not a hindrance to her work as Witherspoon believed the gestation had in fact helped her portrayal of Sharp's character: "I love the luminosity that pregnancy brings, I love the fleshiness, I love the ample bosom—it gave me much more to play with", she said.[57][58] The film and Witherspoon's portrayal of Sharp received positive reviews, as The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Nair's cast is splendid. Witherspoon does justice to the juicy role by giving the part more buoyancy than naughtiness."[59] At the same time, The Charlotte Observer called her work "an excellent performance that's soft around the edges" and the Los Angeles Times concluded that Becky is "a part Reese Witherspoon was born to play".[60][61]

Walk the Line and post-Oscar work (2005–2009)[edit]

In late 2004, Witherspoon began working alongside Mark Ruffalo on the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven. Her character, Elizabeth Masterson, is an ambitious young doctor who gets into a car accident on her way to a blind date and is left in a coma; her spirit returns to her old apartment where she later finds true love.[62]

Witherspoon at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Walk the Line in 2005

Earlier that year Witherspoon was chosen to portray June Carter Cash, the second wife of country-music singer and songwriter Johnny Cash, in Walk the Line. She never had the chance to meet Carter Cash, as Witherspoon was filming Vanity Fair at the time Carter Cash died.[6] Witherspoon performed her own vocals in the movie, and her songs had to be performed in front of a live audience. She was so worried about needing to perform live that she asked her lawyer to terminate the film contract.[63] "That was the most challenging part of the role," she later recalled in an interview, "I'd never sung professionally."[64] Subsequently, she had to spend six months learning how to sing for the role.[63][65] Witherspoon's portrayal of Carter Cash was well received by critics, and Roger Ebert wrote that her performance added "boundless energy" to the movie.[66] She won several awards for her performance, including the Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild, the BAFTA and the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Lead Role.

Besides critical success in the movie industry, Witherspoon and her Walk the Line co-star Joaquin Phoenix received a nomination for "collaborative video of the year" from the CMT Music Awards.[67][68] Witherspoon expressed her passion for the movie: "I really like in this film that it is realistic and portrays sort of a real marriage, a real relationship where there are forbidden thoughts and fallibility. And it is about compassion in the long haul, not just the short easy solutions to problems."[69] She also stated that she believed Carter Cash was a woman ahead of her time: "I think the really remarkable thing about her character is that she did all of these things that we sort of see as normal things in the 1950s when it wasn't really acceptable for a woman to be married and divorced twice and have two different children by two different husbands and travel around in a car full of very famous musicians all by herself. She didn't try to comply to social convention, so I think that makes her a very modern woman."[69]

Witherspoon's first post-Oscar role came in the modern-day fairy tale Penelope, co-starring Christina Ricci. Witherspoon played Annie, the best friend of Penelope, a girl who has a curse in her family. The film was produced by Witherspoon's company Type A Films and premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival.[63][70] After the final release date of Penelope was delayed twice, the movie eventually had a February 2008 release.[71][72]

Witherspoon was back in front of the camera in November 2006 as shooting began for the political thriller Rendition. She starred alongside Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jake Gyllenhaal, playing Isabella El-Ibrahim, the pregnant wife of a bombing suspect. Rendition was released in October 2007 and marked Witherspoon's first appearance in theaters since the 2005 release of Walk the Line.[73] The movie received mostly negative reviews and was generally considered a disappointment at the Toronto Film Festival.[74] Witherspoon's performance was also criticized: "Reese Witherspoon is surprisingly lifeless", USA Today wrote, "She customarily injects energy and spirit into her parts, but here, her performance feels tamped down."[75] In December 2007, Witherspoon began working with Vince Vaughn, filming the holiday comedy Four Christmases, a story about a couple who must spend their Christmas Day trying to visit all four of their divorced parents.[76] The film was released in November 2008. Despite only receiving average reviews by critics, the movie became a box-office success, earning more than 120 million US dollars domestically and US$157m worldwide.[77] Witherspoon next provided the voice of Susan Murphy, the main character in DreamWorks' computer-animated 3-D feature film Monsters vs. Aliens, released in March 2009.[78] In 2009, she also produced a spin-off film of Legally Blonde called Legally Blondes, featuring Camilla "Milly" Rosso and Rebecca "Becky" Rosso.

"Love triangle period" and commercial struggles (2010–present)[edit]

Witherspoon at the White House in 2009 while in Washington to film How Do You Know

With the exception of her animated role in Monsters vs. Aliens, Witherspoon did not appear in a live-action film for two years after the release of Four Christmases. Witherspoon told Entertainment Weekly that the "break" was unplanned, stating that, "I just didn't read anything I liked...There are a lot of really, really, really big movies about robots and things--and there's not a part for a 34-year-old woman in a robot movie."[79] Witherspoon returned with three films in 2010, 2011, and 2012, all centered around Witherspoon as a woman caught in a love triangle between two men. In an interview with MTV, Witherspoon jokingly referred to this trio of films as her "love triangle period".[80]

The first film was James L. Brooks's romantic comedy How Do You Know,[81][82][83] which starred Witherspoon as a thirty-something former national softball player who struggles to choose between a philandering baseball star boyfriend (Owen Wilson) and a business executive being investigated for white-collar crime (Paul Rudd). The movie was filmed in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. over the summer and fall of 2009[84][85][86] and released on December 17, 2010. The movie was both a critical and box office failure. Despite an over-$100 million budget, the film earned only $7.6 million in its opening weekend, leading the Los Angeles Times to call it "one of the year's biggest flops".[87] The movie earned mainly negative reviews from critics, scoring 35% on Rotten Tomatoes with 111 reviews as of late December 2010.[88]

Witherspoon's second consecutive love-triangle movie was the film adaptation of the 1930s circus drama Water for Elephants. Witherspoon began circus training in March 2010 for her role as Marlena, a glamorous performer stuck in a marriage to a volatile husband (Christoph Waltz) but intrigued by the circus's new veterinarian (Robert Pattinson).[89] The movie was filmed between late May and early August 2010[90][91] in various locations in Tennessee, Georgia, and California. It was released on April 22, 2011 [92] and received mixed critical reviews,[93] but was a modest box office success.[94]

In September 2010, Witherspoon began principal photography in Vancouver for the third love-triangle film, This Means War, a 20th Century Fox spy comedy directed by McG in which Witherspoon's character is at the center of a battle between best friends (played by Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) who are both in love with her. The film had a "sneak-peak" release on Valentine's Day, before fully opening on February 17, 2012.[95][96][97][98][99] The film was panned by critics (with a 25% Rotten Tomatoes rating),[100] and fared poorly at the box office, taking fifth place on its opening weekend with sales of $17.6 million. The New York Times remarked that this "extended the box office cold streak for the Oscar-winning Ms. Witherspoon."[101]

Witherspoon at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival premiere of Mud

Witherspoon's subsequent films signalled a departure from the love-triangle theme. In September 2011, nearly a year after beginning work on This Means War, Witherspoon began filming Jeff Nichols's coming-of-age drama Mud in Arkansas. Witherspoon plays the supporting role of Juniper, the former girlfriend of a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) who enlists two local boys to help him evade capture and rekindle his romance with her.[102][103] Mud premiered in May 2012 in competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, but did not win.[104][105] Following its American debut at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2013,[106] the film had a limited release in selected North American theaters on April 26, 2013.[107][108]

Witherspoon's next film to be released was Atom Egoyan's Devil's Knot an adaptation of the true crime book of the same-name, which examines the controversial case of the West Memphis Three. Like Mud, the story is set in Arkansas. Witherspoon plays Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of three young murder victims. In an interview subsequent to Witherspoon's casting in the film, Egoyan noted that although the role requires "an emotionally loaded journey", he "met with Reese, and...talked at length about the project, and she's eager to take on the challenge".[109] The movie was shot in Georgia in June and July 2012.[110][111][112] Witherspoon was pregnant with her third child during filming.[113][114] The movie's world premiere was held on September 8, 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival.[115][116]

In April 2013, Witherspoon began production in Atlanta on Canadian director Philippe Falardeau's upcoming The Good Lie. The film, which is based on real-life events, will feature Witherspoon as a brash American woman assigned to help four young Sudanese refugees (known as Lost Boys of Sudan) who win a lottery for relocation to the United States.[117][118]

Witherspoon subsequently shot a small role in Inherent Vice, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's detective novel, in Pasadena, California in summer 2013.[119][120] In September 2013, production began on the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl,[121] for which Witherspoon is serving as a producer through her company Pacific Standard, though she will not appear in the film.[122] In October 2013, Witherspoon began working in Oregon on another adaptation which she is producing via Pacific Standard, that of Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild.[123] Witherspoon will star in this project, portraying Strayed herself on her 1000 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.[124]

Numerous other upcoming projects have been announced, including the Disney film Wish List, to be written by Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel and directed by Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig,[125] and an adaptation of the self-help book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.[126] Witherspoon is set to jointly star in and produce a number of additional movies under her Pacific Standard banner, including the comedy-drama Rule #1,[127] a film version of upcoming children's book series Pennyroyal's Princess Boot Camp,[128] and the comedy The Beard.[129] She is also set to produce another film in which she will not be starring, the raunchy comedy Wish List.[130]

On December 1, 2010, Witherspoon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6262 Hollywood Blvd.[131]

Other projects[edit]

Witherspoon at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012

Witherspoon owned a production company called Type A Films; the media once believed that this moniker honored her childhood nickname "Little Miss Type A."[21][132] However, when asked about the company by Interview magazine, she clarified the name's origin: "... people think I named it after myself ... It was actually an in-joke with my family because at [age] 7 I understood complicated medical terms, such as the difference between type A and type B personalities. But I just wished I'd named the company Dogfood Films or Fork or something. You carry that baggage all your life."[6]

In March 2012, Witherspoon merged Type A Films with producer Bruna Panadrea's Make Movies banner to create a new production company entitled Pacific Standard.[133] In 2013, Witherspoon recorded a cover of the classic Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra duet, "Somethin' Stupid" with Michael Bublé for his 2013 album, To Be Loved.[134]

In March 2014, Witherspoon is in the process of froming a lifestyle company with former C. Wonder president Andrea Hyde as president.[135]

Charitable work[edit]

Witherspoon is actively involved in children's and women's advocacy organizations. She is a longtime supporter of Save the Children, an organization that helps provide children around the world with education, health care and emergency aid.[136] She also serves on the board of the Children's Defense Fund, a child advocacy and research group.[136] In 2006, she was among a group of actresses who went to New Orleans, Louisiana in a CDF project to publicize the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims.[137] In this trip, she helped open the city's first Freedom School, as she met and talked with the children.[138] Witherspoon later called this an experience that she would never forget.[138]

In 2007, Witherspoon made her first move into the world of endorsements, as she signed a multi-year agreement to serve as the first Global Ambassador of cosmetic company Avon Products.[136][139] She acts as a spokeswoman for Avon's cosmetic products and serves as the honorary chair of the Avon Foundation, a charitable organization that supports women and focuses on breast cancer research and the prevention of domestic violence.[140][141] Witherspoon is also committed to participating in cosmetics product development and appearing in commercial advertisements.[140] Explaining her motives for joining the foundation, she said, "As a woman and a mother I care deeply about the well being of other women and children throughout the world and through the years, I have always looked for opportunities to make a difference."[140]

In the media[edit]

Witherspoon being interviewed at the premiere of Walk the Line in 2005

Witherspoon hosted Saturday Night Live on September 29, 2001, the first episode to air after New York City was devastated by the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11.[142] In 2005, she was ranked No. 5 in Teen People magazine's list of most powerful young Hollywood actors.[143] In 2006, Witherspoon was listed among the Time 100.[144] Her featured article was written by Luke Wilson.[145] In the same year, she was selected as one of the "100 Sexiest Women In The World" by the readers of FHM.[146] Witherspoon has appeared on the annual Celebrity 100 list by Forbes magazine in 2006 and 2007, at No. 75 and No. 80, respectively.[147][148] Forbes also put her on the top ten Trustworthy Celebrities list.[149] She was listed among CEOWORLD magazine's Top Accomplished Women Entertainers.[150]

In 2006, Star fabricated a story saying Witherspoon was pregnant with her third child, which led to Witherspoon suing the magazine's parent company American Media Inc in Los Angeles Superior Court for privacy violation.[151] She sought unspecified general and punitive damages in the lawsuit, asserting that the claim harmed her reputation because it suggested she was hiding the news from producers of her upcoming films.[152]

Witherspoon has been featured four times in the annual "100 Most Beautiful" issues of People magazine.[153] In 2007, she was selected by People and the entertainment news program Access Hollywood as one of the year's best-dressed female stars.[154][155] The yellow dress she wore to that year's Golden Globe Awards was widely acclaimed.[156] A study conducted by E-Poll Market Research showed that Witherspoon was the most likable female celebrity of 2007.[157] That same year, Witherspoon established herself as the highest-paid actress in the American film industry, earning $15 to $20 million per film.[158][159] In recent years, however, her appearance in a number of movies that fared badly at the box office caused a turnabout in her status and she has been noted as one of the most overpaid actors in Hollywood in 2011,2012, and 2013.[160][161][162]

In April 2011, Witherspoon ranked 3rd on the 22nd annual People's Most Beautiful issue.[163]

Personal life[edit]

Witherspoon met American actor Ryan Phillippe at her 21st birthday party in March 1997.[164][165] The couple became engaged in December 1998[166] and married near Charleston, South Carolina on June 5, 1999, at Old Wide Awake Plantation.[167][168][169] They have two children: a daughter, Ava Elizabeth Phillippe, born September 9, 1999,[170] and a son, Deacon Reese Phillippe, born October 23, 2003.[167] In October 2006, Witherspoon and Phillippe announced that they had decided to separate formally after seven years of marriage. The following month, Witherspoon filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.[171] In her petition she sought joint legal and sole physical custody of their two children, with full visitation rights for Phillippe.[171][172] With no prenuptial agreement, the couple would be entitled to half of all assets gained during the marriage under California law, with Witherspoon's being the more significant.[173][174] Witherspoon requested that the court grant no spousal support for Phillippe, and he did not contest.[171] On May 15, 2007, Phillippe filed for joint physical custody of the couple's children and made no motion to block Witherspoon from seeking support from him.[175] Witherspoon and Phillippe's final divorce documents were granted by the Los Angeles Superior Court on October 5, 2007.[176][177]

Throughout 2007 there was persistent speculation in the mass media about a romantic relationship between Witherspoon and her Rendition co-star Jake Gyllenhaal. After her divorce was finalized in October 2007, Witherspoon and Gyllenhaal became more open about their relationship, mainly due to the release of paparazzi pictures of the couple vacationing together in Rome.[178] They reportedly split in December 2009.[179]

In early February 2010, it was reported that Witherspoon had begun dating Jim Toth,[180][181][182] a talent agent and (since September 2010) head of motion picture talent at the Creative Artists Agency, which represents Witherspoon.[183] Witherspoon and Toth announced their engagement in December 2010[184] and married on March 26, 2011 in Ojai, California at Libbey Ranch,[185] Witherspoon's country estate[186] (since sold).[187] Their son, Tennessee James Toth, was born on September 27, 2012.[188]

2013 arrest[edit]

Early in the morning of April 19, 2013, while in Atlanta filming The Good Lie, Witherspoon and Toth were pulled over when the car in which they were traveling was seen weaving across a double line on Peachtree Street.[189] Toth, who was driving, was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.139 and was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and failing to maintain a lane.[189] Witherspoon was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for disobeying the arresting officer's instructions to remain in the vehicle and arguing with him, saying that she did not believe he was a real police officer and asking if he knew who she was.[189][190] The couple was released on bond at 3:30 AM the same day.[191] Witherspoon was able to attend the New York premiere of her film Mud on April 21,[192] and she issued an apology later that night, stating that she had "clearly had one drink too many" and was "deeply embarrassed about the things I said...I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior."[193] When Witherspoon's lawyer and her husband appeared in court on May 2, Toth pleaded guilty and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service, an alcohol-education program, and one year of probation; Witherspoon pleaded no contest and was fined $213.[194]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1991Man in the Moon, TheThe Man in the MoonDani Trant
1991WildflowerEllie Perkins
1992Desperate Choices: To Save My ChildCassie
1993Far Off Place, AA Far Off PlaceNonnie Parker
1993Jack the BearKaren Morris
1994S.F.W.Wendy Pfister
1996FreewayVanessa Lutz
1996FearNicole Walker
1998TwilightMel Ames
1998Overnight DeliveryIvy Miller
1998PleasantvilleJennifer/Mary Sue
1999Cruel IntentionsAnnette Hargrove
1999ElectionTracy Flick
1999Best Laid PlansLissa
2000Little NickyHollyCameo
2000American PsychoEvelyn Williams
2001Trumpet of the Swan, TheThe Trumpet of the SwanSerenaVoice
2001Legally BlondeElle Woods
2002Importance of Being Earnest, TheThe Importance of Being EarnestCecily Cardew
2002Sweet Home AlabamaMelanie Carmichael
2003Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & BlondeElle WoodsAlso executive producer
2004Vanity FairBecky Sharp
2005Walk the LineJune Carter Cash
2005Just Like HeavenElizabeth Masterson
2006PenelopeAnnieAlso producer
2007RenditionIsabella Fields El-Ibrahimi
2008Four ChristmasesKate
2009Monsters vs. AliensSusan Murphy / GinormicaVoice
Also in the video game
2010How Do You KnowLisa
2011Water for ElephantsMarlena Rosenbluth
2012This Means WarLauren Scott
2012MudJuniper
2013Devil's KnotPamela Hobbs
2014The Good LieCarrie Davis
2014Inherent VicePenny KimballPost-production
2014WildCheryl StrayedPost-production

Television[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1993Return to Lonesome DoveFerris DunniganMiniseries
2000King of the HillDebbieVoice
2 episodes
2000FriendsJill Green2 episodes
2001Saturday Night LiveHost / VariousEpisode: "Reese Witherspoon/Alicia Keys"
2002Simpsons, TheThe SimpsonsGreta WolfcastleVoice
Episode: "The Bart Wants What It Wants"
2003Freedom: A History of UsVarious roles3 episodes
Documentary
2009Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer SpaceSusan Murphy / GinormicaVoice
Short

Accolades[edit]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Reese Witherspoon at Wikimedia Commons