Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reese Witherspoon Biography

Date of Birth
22 March 1976, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Birth Name
Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

5' 1½" (1.56 m)

Mini Biography

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the second child born to Dr. John Witherspoon and Betty Reese. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in the ear, nose and throat. Her mother was a Registered Nurse who later became a Ph.D in pediatric nursing. Reese spent the first four years of her life in Wiesbaden, Germany where her father served as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army reserves. Shortly after, John moved the family back to the States, settling in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reese was introduced to the entertainment industry at a very early age. At age 7, she began modeling. This led to appearances on several local television commercials. At age 11, she placed first in a Ten-State Talent Fair.

In 1990, she landed her first major acting role in Robert Mulligan's The Man in the Moon (1991). Her role as a 14-year old tomboy earned her rave reviews. Roles in bigger films such as Jack the Bear (1993) and A Far Off Place (1993) followed shortly after.

Following high school graduation in 1994 from Harpeth Hall, a Nashville all girls school, Reese decided to put her acting career on hold and attend Stanford University where she would major in English literature. However, her collegiate plans were shortly dashed when she accepted roles to star in two major motion pictures: Fear (1996) alongside Mark Wahlberg and Freeway (1996) with Kiefer Sutherland. Although neither film was a huge box-office success, they did help to establish Reese as a rising starlet in Hollywood and open the door for bigger and better film roles. Those bigger roles came in movies such as Pleasantville (1998), Election (1999) and Cruel Intentions (1999).

Her breakthrough role came as Elle Woods in the 2001 comedy Legally Blonde (2001). The movie was huge box-office smash and established Reese as one of the top female draws in Hollywood. The next year, she scored a follow-up hit with Sweet Home Alabama (2002) which went on to gross over $100 million dollars at the box office. In 2006, she took home the best actress Oscar for her role as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line (2005).

Off the screen, she was married to Ryan Phillippe from 1999 to 2007. They met at her 21st birthday party and subsequently worked together in Cruel Intentions (1999). They have two children: a daughter, Ava Elizabeth (born 9 September 1999) and a son, Deacon (born 23 October 2003).
IMDb Mini Biography By: SteveG

Ryan Phillippe (5 June 1999 - 13 June 2008) (divorced) 2 children


Majored in English Literature at Stanford University; on leave from her studies as of 1998.

Shortly after she started acting she had an audition for a role in Cape Fear (1991). She was supposed to meet with Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese for the audition, but at the time didn't really know who they were. On the plane she was talking to the man next to her about her audition, and the man started to rave to her about De Niro and Scorsese. This made her so nervous that she completely blew the audition and the role eventually went to Juliette Lewis.

daughter Ava Elizabeth Phillippe born [9 September 1999]

Refused the lead roles in two horror movies, Scream (1996/I) and Urban Legend (1998).

Was considered for the role of Juliet in Romeo + Juliet (1996).

One of her ancestors, John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence. In the movie 1776 (1972), the role of Dr. John Witherspoon was played by James Noble.

Her mother, Betty, has a Ph.D. in pediatric nursing and her dad, John, is a surgeon.

Named one of People Magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of 2001"

Named one of E!'s "Top 20 Entertainers of 2001".

Was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine in 2002.

Went to Harpeth Hall School, a private school for girls in Nashville, Tennessee

She runs a production company called "Type A Films" with Debra Siegal

Appears in Entertainment Weekly's Most Powerful List sitting at #22

At the young age of 11 she won the "Ten State Talent Award"

She was a cheerleader in high school and a debutante.

Reese is her mother's maiden name.

Has moved her production company, Type A Films, to Universal Pictures. Has signed a two-year first-look production pact with Universal. The studio has already picked up a romantic comedy pitch, Sports Widow (2010), for her to star in and produce.

She appeared in a television commercial when she was 7 for a local Nashville florist.

Has been named one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" along with Eminem and Kelly Osbourne.

She lived in Wiesbaden, Germany, as a young child.

Her Gap ad appeared on a six-story-high building on Sunset Blvd,.

Named one of E! 2002 "Entertainers of the Year".

Her daughter, Ava, is named after Ryan's grandmother.

Steve Dontanville from the William Morris Agency is still her agent. They got together after The Man in the Moon (1991).

She can trace her family all the way back to Scotland, UK. John Witherspoon, her Gifford-born "favourite ancestor", who attended Haddington Grammar School, obtained a Master of Arts from Edinburgh University in 1739, and was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Her wedding ring is an early 1990s Neil Lane, Asscher-cut-diamond, and there are only a few like it in the world.

Has an older brother, John D. Witherspoon

Ranked #1 on E!'s Hollywood's Hottest Blondes (2003)

Son Deacon Reese Phillippe was born [October 23rd, 2003].

As extra credit for a high school class, she worked as an office production assistant for the film Devil in a Blue Dress (1995). Director Carl Franklin paid homage to her by featuring Legally Blonde (2001) in the film Out of Time (2003/I).

She collects antique linens and is crazy about old embroidery.

Ryan proposed to her in December of 1998 while the couple was vacationing at The Planter's Inn in Charleston, South Carolina.

As a child she appeared in her local Sunday paper modeling kids' track suits and such. She said that it was creative for her. She was paid $50 a day.

Started children's acting classes at a community college at the age of 7. By the age of 9 she was taking adult acting classes.

Her son is named after former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Deacon Phillippe, a distant relative of her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.

Gymnast for 7 years

Named 'Favorite Female Film Star' by People Magazine (2004)

Neither she nor her ex-husband, actor Ryan Phillippe, use their real first names - Reese's first name is Laura, Ryan's first name is Matthew.

Was the first person to host "Saturday Night Live" (1975) after the September 11th terror attacks.

Was approached by a few companies to record music after she provided her own singing voice for Walk the Line (2005).

Has appeared in four movies bearing the names of songs: Jack the Bear (1993), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Just Like Heaven (2005) and Walk the Line (2005).

Friend of Renée Zellweger.

She donated many items to Rocky Stone to be given to less fortunate kids as part of the Toy Mountain Campaign.

The year she won her Oscar for Walk the Line (2005) her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe appeared in the movie that won "Best Picture": Crash (2004/I) .

Her performance as Tracy Flick in Election (1999) is ranked #45 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

Dyed her hair brown for her role in Walk the Line (2005)

Named #40 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005" special supplement. (2005)

Is the second actress to win the best actress Oscar for portraying a female singer in a biography; the first was Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner's Daughter (1980).

The dress she wore at the Golden Globes in 2006 was also worn by Kirsten Dunst at the Golden Globes in 2003

Distant cousin of Daniel Morton

Named #34 in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006" supplement. (2006).

Announced on October 30, 2006 that she has separated and would file divorce papers against her husband, Ryan Phillippe, after seven years of marriage.

Best friends with Selma Blair.

Was originally cast in the lead role in Bunny Lake Is Missing (2012), but backed out a few weeks before shooting began.

Filed for divorce against husband Ryan Phillippe, also demanding sole custody for their children Ava and Deacon, on 8th November 2006.

Is a vegetarian.

Mentioned in the song High School Never Ends by Bowling for Soup, as "the prom queen".

Named the first-ever Avon Global Ambassador and will serve as the Honorary Chairman of the Avon Foundation [August 1, 2007].

Was named highest-paid actress in Hollywood by The Hollywood Reporter in 2007.

In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated her earnings for the year at $7 million.

The last place her great great grandfather John Witherspoon lived was Paisley in Scotland UK, before he moved to the States where he was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Is one of six actresses to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance. The others in chronological order are Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich (2000), Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain (2003), Helen Mirren for The Queen (2006),Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls (2006) and Kate Winslet for The Reader (2008).

Campaigned for the role of Christine Collins in Changeling (2008), but lost the part to Angelina Jolie.

Personal Quotes

[on having a baby]: "Obviously, this isn't the time in my life that I would have chosen to do this, but I feel like life gives you these challenges for a reason. I feel so happy and glad to be in the place that I am. I really feel blessed. This is something I need to face and take control of."

[talking about how she choose the films she will be in]: "I have a weird process, but the main thing is like this: I hear her voice in my head. There are a lot of wonderful scripts my agents can't believe I pass on, but I do because I can't hear the voice. It doesn't appeal to me then. I'm really careful. Unless I hear the voice, I can't do it."

[talking about Ryan Phillippe]: "I'm lucky to find a person to share my life, and the best friend I'll ever have."

[Talking about motherhood and her baby]: "I feel good, I'm proud of Election (1999) and very proud of this [her child]. It couldn't be a better time. It's always the right time when it happens. You make it the right time".

[talking about Pleasantville (1998)]: "We were thrilled for just the three nominations we got, but obviously it's a little sad. I went through so many press junkets with people saying they loved it. And Joan Allen was robbed but she can't get nominated every year. She's an inspiration for every young actress. She has that calm and reserve about herself and makes you think she appreciates the normal things of everyday. Then she transforms into this character that's so different."

[talking about the movie business]: "The battles that we face in this business aren't financial, but they are moral. And I certainly think that the longer you can keep your values, and your morality intact, and keep your head on your shoulders about what is important at the end of the day, you can get the most out of this business and really emerge with something wonderful."

"I grew up in Tennessee. We didn't know what Louis Vuitton was. I had to order all my prom outfits out of catalogs".

People want to try and move you into a place where you can be easily identifiable by every woman in America - to be this very likable woman in a romantic comedy. And it's really hard for me. I just don't see myself as the girl that everybody likes. I never have been and I don't know how to be that person.

As far as being in the spotlight and under public scrutiny, a lot of that's about how much you put yourself out there. It's not like we go to every premiere and every celebrity function and every charity auction. We really just try to maintain our privacy and never let our public persona get out of hand.

I'm not perfect! I'm human. I make mistakes. But I try to be as conscious as I can about things I should be. If I'm going to do something commercial and mainstream and made for the masses, I just believe you can make those kinds of films with quality - and good ideas and good intentions. There's a lot of negativity out there.

"While making Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), I had like 50 outfit changes. It was great! I'm real into the whole "girlie" thing, it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it".

Attending an all-girls school has its advantages, there are no inhibitions. You can walk to school with your zit cream on and your hair in rollers and nobody cares.

"It's nice to come home to what's real." - E! "Revealed with Jules Asner" (2001).

[On husband Ryan Phillippe] "I don't think I can imagine a better guy than the one I've ended up with".

"There's something timeless and important about making people laugh, about being the right spot in their day." - as quoted in the Dec 7, 2004 issue of Woman's World

I was thinking about why I make movies, and I know why. Life is hard. It's nice to go escape and have a good time at the movies. If I can give people a movie about hope, love and the future, then I've done my job.

I do think things were meant to happen. I'm just this little girl from Tennessee, and here I am today. I think a lot of things are just out of your hands.

[Asked about the ways she is discriminated against] "I get discriminated against in three ways: I get discriminated against because I'm blond, I get discriminated against because I'm an actress and I get discriminated against because I'm from the South."

I did. I called my attorney. My agent. My manager. I said "You know y'all, you're serious about this? I'm really.. I gotta get out of this. Like can't they call 'Leann Rimes'? I mean she's good." - On trying to get out of the part of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line (2005).

The director came to us and he said "No, I really want you guys to learn to sing. To learn to play instruments and I want you to record an album". and that is what... and I just absolutely was just gob-smacked and I said .. "I don't know. I can't do that." And he said "Well I want you to try." Now that's the thing for me. If someone asks me to try, I will always try. - On doing her own singing in Walk the Line (2005).

"Life isn't just about you: It's about family and friends and giving back." quoted in Woman's World magazine 2-21-06

About dual careers and marriage: "Marriage and family come before everything. You don't want to make a movie at the cost of your relationship."

I feel like there's a race being run for some unattainable goal - to be the best, the skinniest, the most beautiful. I just admit that's what I'll never be.

What gets me is how many women - young women - give up their power and sense of self. Thinking they're going to get more out of life if they take off their clothes and objectify themselves, instead of functioning on the principle that they're smart and capable, that you can be an actress and not be on the covers of T&A magazines. I'm flabbergasted by how many legitimate actresses do that. It blows my mind.

(Part of Oscar Speech) I am so blessed to have my family here tonight. My mother and my father are here. And I just want to say thank you so much for everything, for being so proud of me. It didn't matter if I was making my bed or making a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me. And that means so very much to a child. So thank you, Mom and Dad. I want to say thank you to my wonderful husband and my two children who should be going to bed. And thank you for loving me so much and supporting me. And I want to say that, my grandmother was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She taught me how to be a real woman to have strength and self respect, and to never give those things away. And those are a lot of qualities I saw in June Carter Cash. 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. So thank you so much for this honor".

I think everyone has their own set of problems, and sometimes I feel I'm in the middle of the biggest challenge of my life just trying to maintain normalcy in a kind of crazy lifestyle.

I'm pretty conservative or old-fashion, I should say, it's how I grew up. I think you have to let your children be individuals, but you have to set boundaries. Ryan and I have similar ideas about all of it, you really have to support you partner in the things that are important to them and hold the line together.

Many people worry so much about managing their careers, but rarely spend half that much energy managing their lives. I want to make my life, not just my job, the best it can be. The rest will work itself out.

I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. I feel intimidated by Victoria's Secret. Hollywood is one of those endless competitions, but it's like running a race toward nothing. There's no winning. You're never going to win the pretty race. I just want to be the best version of myself that I can be.

I feel like there's a race being run in Los Angeles for some unattainable goal -to be the best, the skinniest, the most beautiful. I just admit that that's what I'll never be. (Marie Claire - September 2005)

I don't think these women are stupid. I think they're selling a personality that's very marketable: Wouldn't it be fun if we were all gorgeous and didn't have a care? But creating a cultural icon out of someone who goes, "I'm stupid, isn't it cute?" makes me want to throw daggers at them! I want to say to them, "My grandma did not fight for what she fought for, and my mother did not fight for what she fought for, so you can start telling women it's fun to be stupid." Saying that to young women, little girls, my daughter? It's not OK. (Marie Claire - September 2005)

I feel there are certain people who are systematically ripping [feminism] down because of their lack of regard and their ignorance about what the women before us had to go through. (Marie Claire - September 2005)

What gets me is how many women - young women - give up their power and their sense of self. Thinking they're going to get more out of life if they take off their clothes and objectify themselves, instead of functioning on the principle that they're smart and capable, that you can be an actress and not be on the covers of T&A magazines. I'm flabbergasted by how many legitimate actresses do that. It blows my mind. (Marie Claire - September 2005)

I'm wary of what goal I set, because then I'll have to accomplish it. (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

Since when is self-improvement a negative? Why wouldn't I be interested in psychology? I like to read a lot of psychology books. I'm obsessed with child behavior; I would love to be a child psychologist. [On being criticized after admitting she and then-husband Ryan Phillippe have gone to couples therapy.] (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

I've learned the art of ignoring people. When people give you some piece of direction you don't like, you just nod and ignore it. Just don't do it! Most people want to be heard and acknowledged, anyway. Just do what you want to do. [On how she handles people who disagree with her.] (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

Even now, people want to marginalize me. They want to attribute all my success to teenagers seeing my movies. I really resent it when people say, "It's just a genre film; it's a teen comedy." It takes a lot of work to make these things have heart and resonance so they're not just empty, disposable confections. But I don't give a damn about other people's perceptions, because I'll show them. For women in this business, ascendancy is always a battle. It's scrape and claw. I just try to stick to my guns and respect myself. I want to take the ingenues aside and say, "Value yourself! It's O.K. if you have opinions!" [On struggling to be taken seriously in the industry.] (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

They want people they can push around. I was the girl who was always asking, "Why? Yeah, I know you want me to do that - but why?" I always thought people wanted to hear my opinions. [Grins] But I gave them anyway. It's just blind self-confidence. I get like a little terrier about things. My mother says I should have been an attorney. [On asserting herself, even with her employers.] (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

It's one of those endless competitions, but it's like running a race toward nothing. "There's no winning. You're never going to win the thin race. You're never going to win the pretty race. You're never going to win the smart race. You're never going to win the funny race. I just want to be the best version of myself I can be. [About the harsh standards placed on women by Hollywood.] (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

I like work. If it's not hard enough, I try to make it harder. I like the process of being daunted by it, tackling it, and knowing I can do it. (Vanity Fair - September 2004 - "Regally Blonde" by Leslie Bennetts)

{On roles resembling the title character in 'Penelope'] I like this girl because she is a bit of a bad-ass. I grew up watching movies with people like Barbara Stanwyck, and sometimes I get frustrated that there aren't a lot of great female characters out there that young women can look at and go, 'I want to be like that'. I go to movies and yell at the women on-screen, 'Shoot him; just shoot him.' I mean, why why does the guy always have to shoot him?

When I was a question on Jeopardy!, that's when I felt famous.

Four Christmases (2008) $14,000,000
Just Like Heaven (2005) $15,000,000
Walk the Line (2005) $15,000,000
Vanity Fair (2004) $15,000,000
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003) $15,000,000
Sweet Home Alabama (2002) $12,500,000
Legally Blonde (2001) $5,000,000
Cruel Intentions (1999) $250,000
Fear (1996) $200,000

Where Are They Now

(July 2004) Currently filming Walk the Line (2005).

(March 2006) Currently filming Penelope (2006).

(December 2006) Honoring Dolly Parton, of whom she's a great big fan, at the Kennedy Center Honors TV special aired on December 26th, 2006.


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