Over the span of her three-decade career, our favorite Southern belle, Reese Witherspoon, has won us over with her onscreen portrayals of complex women, from the fabulous Elle Woods to the morally ambiguous Elena Richardson. But as much as we enjoy seeing the 45-year-old star transform on screen, we confess, there's quite a bit that we didn't know about Witherspoon until very recently. For instance, did you know that she kept 60 outfits that she wore as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde? Or that she turned down a chance to reappear on Friends? If you think that's surprising, keep reading for even more little-known Reese Witherspoon facts.
10 Super Surprising Facts About Reese Witherspoon
1. Her First Name Isn’t Actually Reese
Her full name is Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon and "Reese" is actually her mother's maiden name. As for why she chose to update her first name, that's still unclear, but we will say that Reese has a nice ring to it.
2. Witherspoon Studied English Literature Before She Pursued Acting
She may not have attended Harvard Law School like her character, Elle, but the truth isn't too far off. During the '90s, Witherspoon studied English literature at Stanford University, though she left in 1996 to pursue acting full-time. More than a decade later, the actress revisited her school and even swung by her old dorm. She wrote on Instagram, "Surprise! While re-visiting @Stanford, I popped by my old dorm room.... and met its newest tenant, Caitlyn! She was so nice; she even welcomed me in! #LoveSurprises #Stanford #FearTheTree."
3. She Got Suspended In The Third Grade For Selling Custom-barrettes
During her chat with Vogue in 2019, Witherspoon revealed that she got caught running her own custom-barrette business from her desk in the third grade. At the time, she redecorated store-bought barrettes using paint pens and sold them at a profit, but that all came to an end when her pens leaked on her desk.
4. She Isn't Too Fond Of Performing In Front Of Live Audiences
Remember when Witherspoon played Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) little sister in Friends? Well, in 2019, she told AP Entertainment that she was asked to reprise the role again, but she turned it down because she gets too scared in front of live audiences. During the televised interview, she told Aniston, "I've never done it again. Did you know they asked me back? And I said 'No I can't do it.' I was too scared."
You might recall that Witherspoon also appeared in Saturday Night Live in 2015—making her the first person to host after the 9/11 attacks—and it just as nerve-wracking for the actress, who described the experience as "terrifying."
5. Witherspoon Wanted To Star As Amy In 'gone Girl'
It's impossible to imagine anyone other than Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne, but as it turns out, Witherspoon (who produced the film) seriously considered starring. However, director David Fincher didn't think that she was a great fit. She told The Hollywood Reporter, "I was always open to doing it, but whenever David Fincher says he wants to do a project, you just sit back and say, 'Whatever you want to do.' We had a long conversation where he was like, 'You’re not right for it. And this is why.' And I actually completely agreed with him."
6. She Did A Duet With Michael Bublé
The star did a duet with the artist on his song, "Something Stupid," in 2013—and it's all because of her work on the film, Walk the Line. He told Ryan Seacrest, "We loved Walk the Line and her voice was so smooth and wonderful. So my manager said 'Call her.' And I said, 'I don't want to put her in that position.' Then my wife came home and told me, 'Mike, we're pregnant.' And I was so happy I was like, 'Today's the day, I'm going to call her.'"
When it was time to record, he said that she totally exceeded his expectations, adding, "She was so prepared. In one take, she nailed it." Perhaps this could mean a Reese Witherspoon album in the future?
7. She Wanted To Be On Broadway As A Kid
During an interview for Walk the Line, Witherspoon revealed that it took her six months to learn to sing and play the auto-harp for the film, but she also shared that singing on Broadway used to be a dream of hers. She said, "I wanted to be a Broadway kid when I was little and I went to Broadway camp, and they kind of told me to stick with the acting." She may not have gone to Broadway, but the fact that this role earned her an Academy Award says quite a lot.
8. Witherspoon Took Home Most Of Elle's Outfits From 'legally Blonde'
To prevent them from being auctioned off on the internet, she kept 60 (yes, sixty) of the outfits her character wore in the iconic movie. She told Hollywood.com, “It really bothers me. Imagine some sicko in Wisconsin smelling the seams…it creeps me out.”
She added, “It’s all in the closet. One day my daughter can play with it.” (Perhaps Witherspoon's mini-me will make a surprise appearance in one of these numbers in Legally Blonde 3.)
9. One Of Her Ancestors Signed The Declaration Of Independence
Yep, that's right. Witherspoon confirmed during her Vogue interview in 2014 that she's a descendant of the John Witherspoon, best known for signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The famous minister is also one of the founding fathers of the United States, and he served as president of the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University) for more than two decades.
10. A Really Bad Script Inspired Witherspoon To Make Her Own Movies
While speaking with Chelsea Handler, the actress revealed that all it took was one awful script to inspire her to get into producing films. She said, "Probably five years ago, I read one of the worst scripts I've ever read in my entire life, and it was so bad. The woman's part was so bad, opposite this male comedian. I called my agent and was like, 'I'm not doing this, this is a piece of crap.' And he said, 'Every actress in Hollywood wants this part.' And I thought, 'If every actress in Hollywood wants this part, I need to start making movies, because this is not worth women's talent.'"
Spoken like a true icon.