Although she made several movies in the 1990s, it was 2001’s Legally Blonde that really caused audiences to sit up and take notice of Reese Witherspoon, and they’ve been doing so ever since. Throughout the early 2000s, she appeared in such hits as The Importance of Being Earnest, Sweet Home Alabama, the inevitable Legally Blonde sequel and Walk the Line, playing June Carter Cash and winning an Academy Award in the process.

Afterward, personal issues interfered with her choosing the proper projects, and things began falling apart in that the critics barraged her with negative comments, the box office dropped and things weren’t looking so well for her career. But then Reese began taking a much more active role in her career choices, became a producer and turned things around with The Good Lie, Gone Girl and (especially) WildMore recently, she began producing and starring in HBO’s Big Little Lies with Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern, among others.

“I think every woman — every actress — has many facets to her life,” Reese reflected to IndieWire.com of the turnaround. “I think no one is one thing or another. It’s real. It’s our job as artists to continually push ourselves to try new things and try things that are scary and feel overwhelming and daunting … and just do it anyway! I think part of thriving and reinventing yourself is just about jumping two feet into a cold pool. And not knowing! I mean, the response to Wild could have been disastrous, you know? But I’ve been so thrilled that people are willing to see me in a different way and are so receptive to it. I think audiences have changed — my audience, for sure, has grown with me. The women who were 20 years old watching Legally Blonde are not 20 years old anymore! They’re 35 and they have kids. They’ve suffered through many life experiences and had many triumphs, so I think it only makes sense that the women that they watch onscreen should evolve as well.”

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