Legally Blonde star Reese Witherspoon might have become a doctor instead of a movie star, and the reason may surprise you. It wasn’t because of stage fright. She’d already proven her ability to captivate audiences in her hometown of Nashville. The cute-as-a-button thespian encountered Hollywood rejection because of a certain aspect of her appearance.
Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon in New Orleans, the Academy Award-winning actor began her stage career at the tender age of seven. By the time she was 11, the talented youngster boasted a number of local television commercials as well as a first-place win at a Ten-State Talent Fair.
When she was 15, a local Nashville newspaper published a cattle call for extras, and she answered it on a whim, says Biography. Although she auditioned for a bit part, Witherspoon landed a critically acclaimed lead role in her first feature film, 1991’s The Man in The Moon. The high school cheerleader had every reason to believe she’d be a Hollywood success.
Shortly after graduating from a private, all-girl high school in Nashville in 1994, Witherspoon enrolled at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. With both parents deeply ensconced in the medical field, Witherspoon pondered a career in medicine while halfheartedly pursuing a degree in English literature.
Critics and movie directors did not forget her noteworthy portrayal of a teenage tomboy in The Man in The Moon. Neither did Witherspoon ever totally forget acting. So, when she was offered roles in two movies, the talented actor eagerly accepted them. Her decision to put her studies on hold to make Fear with Mark Wahlberg and Freeway with Kiefer Sutherland was a win-win for everyone.
Some Angelenos adversely assessed one attribute of her appearance
Although Witherspoon’s acting talent was never in question, some in the industry were less than enthused about the appearance she brought to the Hollywood table, reported Country Living magazine. Without naming names, Witherspoon revealed: “When I first came here [to LA], all I heard was, ‘No, not right—not tall enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. But I didn’t really care about their opinions. I’m stubborn.”
How short is Reese Witherspoon?
If there are royals besides Harry and Meghan in Hollywood, Meryl Streep is surely among them. She’s also one of the most revered actors in town. When Streep was introduced as the mother of Alexander Skarsgard’s recently demised character, Perry Wright, in season two of Big Little Lies, she immediately shaded Witherspoon’s character for her lack of stature.
According to Yahoo, Streep came aboard the show as the ‘new sh*t stirrer of Monterey’ who, upon meeting Witherspoon’s character, Madeline, bluntly called her ‘very short’ before doubling down with, “I find little people to be untrustworthy.”
For the record, Streep was not the tallest member of the cast. The triple Oscar winner stands a modest 5’6″. Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman stand statuesque at 5’10” and 5’11” respectively. Shailene Woodley is 5’8″ and Zoë Kravitz is 5’2″, and they’re all taller than Reese Witherspoon, who is 5’1″ barefoot, according to Insider.
Too short to kiss Vince Vaughn
Witherspoon’s height wasn’t much of a problem when she starred opposite Joaquin Phoenix in the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line. According to IMDb, Phoenix stands 5’8″ which was a reasonable height for a smooch with his onscreen wife. Her stature (or lack thereof) did cause complications with another actor, however.
When Witherspoon was cast opposite Vince Vaughn in director Seth Gordon’s Four Christmases, it became apparent early on that the 6’6″ actor was too tall to comfortably kiss his co-star. At a presser for the 2008 movie, Witherspoon explained that they couldn’t make Vaughn any smaller, even by taking his shoes off.
So, the pair came up with creative solutions that sometimes involved ramps and boxes. “I stood on a lot of boxes and they had to build ramps that were about the same size as where I should be. It was a challenge, especially the kissing scenes. It was hard to get up there to kiss him but we worked it out.”
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