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Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Birth date
March 22, 1976 (1976-03-22) (age 46)
Actress, producer
Active Years

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born March 22, 1976) is an American actress and producer. Witherspoon began her career as a child actress, making her professional screen debut with a nominated for a Young Artist Award nomination for her role in 1991's The Man in the Moon.

Early life

Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon, her father, Dr. John Draper Witherspoon, was a student at Tulane University medical school at the time of her birth. Her father served as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Reserve, and was later in private practice as an otolaryngologist until 2012. Her mother, Mary Elizabeth "Betty" (née Reese) of Harriman, Tennessee, earned a BS and master's degrees in Nursing, and a doctorate of education. She worked as a professor of nursing specializing in child care and mental health at Vanderbilt University. Her mother began nursing babies back to health in the neonatal intensive care unit of Vanderbilt University Hospital in 1988 until she retired. Her parents are still legally married, although they have been separated since 1996.

As an 'Army Brat', Reese lived int Wiesbaden, Germany for four years as a child as her father worked for the U.S. military. After her return to the U.S., she spent her childhood in Nashville, Tennessee. In school, Reese received high grades, loved reading, and considered herself "a big dork who read loads of books." On her love of books, she once said: "I get crazy in a bookstore. It makes my heart beat hard because I want to buy everything." At seven years old, she was selected as a model for a florist's TV commercials, which prompted her to take acting lessons for the first time. When she was eleven, she entered the "Ten-State Talent Fair" and took first place.

Witherspoon attended middle school at Harding Academy and was a cheerleader at the all-girls' Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, from which she graduated. She attended Stanford University as an English literature major, however she left college after only one year in order to pursue a career in acting. She is proud of her "definitive Southern upbringing", and 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." Reese was described as a "multi-achiever" by her parents, who gave her the nickname "Little Type A". 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."


Year Title Role Notes
1991 The Man in the Moon Dani Trant
1991 Wildflower Ellie Perkins
1991 The Seventh Brother Angie Voice Role
1992 Desperate Choices: To Save My Child Cassie Robbins
1993 A Far Off Place Nonnie Parker
1993 Jack the Bear Karen Morris
1994 S.F.W. Wendy Pfister
1996 Freeway Vanessa Lutz
1996 Fear Nicole Walker
1998 Twilight (1998) Mel Ames
1998 Overnight Delivery Ivy Miller
1998 Pleasantville Jennifer/Mary Sue Parker
1999 Cruel Intentions Annette Hargrove
1999 Election Tracy Flick
1999 Best Laid Plans Lissa
2000 Little Nicky Holly Cameo appearance
2000 American Psycho Evelyn Williams
2001 The Trumpet of the Swan Serena Voice acting
2001 Lady and the Tramp 2 Scamp's Adventure Lady Voice acting
2001 Legally Blonde Elle Woods
2002 The Importance of Being Earnest Cecily Cardew
2002 Sweet Home Alabama Melanie Carmichael
2003 Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Elle Woods Also executive producer
2004 Vanity Fair Becky Sharp
2005 Walk the Line June Carter Cash Academy Award for Best Actress
2005 Just like Heaven Elizabeth Masterson
2006 Penelope Annie Also producer
2007 Rendition Isabella Fields El-Ibrahimi
2008 Four Christmases Kate
2009 Monsters vs. Aliens Susan Murphy / Ginormica Voice role (also in the Monsters vs. Aliens video game)
2010 How Do You Know Lisa Jorgenson
2011 Water for Elephants Marlena Rosenbluth
2012 This Means War Lauren Scott
2012 Mud Juniper
2014 Devil's Knot Pamela Hobbs
2014 Wild Cheryl Strayed Also producer
2014 The Good Lie Carrie Davis
2014 Gone Girl Producer
2014 Inherent Vice Penny Kimball
2015 Hot Pursuit Officer Rose Cooper Also producer
2016 Sing Rosita Voice role