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Reese Witherspoon just revealed the very dark side of her Legally Blonde audition

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Hollie Richardson
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Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon has revealed that she was told to “dress sexy” to audition for roles during the earlier years of her career, including the iconic Elle Woods role in Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde is, without a doubt, one of the greatest films of the 00s. Elle Woods – the sorority girl who goes on to successfully study law at Harvard – is now considered a feminist icon. In fact, Woods reportedly caused a surge in female applicants to law school, inspired a 15,000 word dissertation and even helped one woman cope with her depression.

Reese Witherspoon, who played Elle, recently confirmed that there is a script for a Legally Blonde 3. It’s clearly a role that she adored playing, as she often positively refers back to it. Earlier this year, the actor shared photos of graduates who dressed as Woods at their ceremonies. She’s also previously revealed that women constantly tell her how the film influenced their careers.

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So, it’s hard – but still essential – to hear about the dark side of auditioning for the role.

Speaking in an interview with Hollywood Reporter this week, Witherspoon said she was considered “repellent” by movie bosses and was told to “dress sexy” by her manager.

“They thought I was a shrew,” she recalled. “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.”

Reese Witherspoon in a scene from Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde: Reese Witherspoon has recalled the audition.

Witherspoon, who had a baby daughter at the time, continued: “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. 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.’ “

She also reflected on the final audition for Legally Blonde, saying: “I remember a room full of men who were asking me questions about being a coed and being in a sorority, even though I had dropped out of college four years earlier and I have never been inside a sorority house.”

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Of course, the film went on to become a huge success. And Witherspoon has since taken on award-winning roles, such as June Carter Cash in Walk the line and Cheryl Strayed in Wild. She’s also a producer, with a string of hit shows including Big Little Lies and The Morning Show

Witherspoon also been very vocal in the Me Too movement, and this experience just further highlights the need to continue calling out sexism in Hollywood. 

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Images: Getty, MGM

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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