Melodie McDaniel / The Hollywood Reporter
To land the role of Elle Woods, Reese Witherspoon had to look and sound the part. What, like it's hard?
Probably not. But her meeting with the producers came at a time she was already hesitant about trying out for the lead role in the 2001 comedy film Legally Blonde, which ultimately made her more famous. Known then for her performances in the films Cruel Intentions and Election, Witherspoon was at risk of being typecast, according to the Hollywood Reporter's 2019 Women in Entertainment issue.
"They thought I was a shrew," the 43-year-old Oscar winner said in a cover interview. "My manager finally called and said, 'You've got to go meet with the studio head because he will not approve you. He thinks you really are your character from Election and that you're repellent.' And then I was told to dress sexy."
In addition, Witherspoon was a new mom and role model to a little girl.
"And you're 23, you have a baby at home, you need the money and you're being told that by people who know what they're doing," she continued, referring to her and then-husband Ryan Phillippe's eldest child, daughter Ava. "It's funny to think of all the things we were told to do back then because now you're thinking, 'Oh God, if somebody told my daughter to do that, she'd be like, I really hope you're joking.'"