According to imdb.com, Reese Witherspoon filmed her first movie in 1991. In the 19 years that have passed since this first turn as a star, Reese Witherspoon has starred in a variety of movies – from comedies to period dramas. Of her forty movie credits, however, there are five favorites that shine above the rest.
The Man in the Moon – 1991
The Man in the Moon was Reese Witherspoon’s first film credit, and this movie remains a wonderful chapter in her acting career. Witherspoon was 15 when she portrayed the character of Dani Trant, a young girl finding her way through her first love during a stressful summer for her family. Her performance made Dani, who transitioned from slightly annoying kid to blossoming woman to grief-stricken teen, believable and easily relatable for any girl who loved and lost a boy – no matter the cause.
Legally Blonde – 2001
Ten years after her film debut, Reese Witherspoon appeared in what will surely be one of her most iconic roles no matter the length of her career. Reese Witherspoon was born to play Elle Woods. No other blonde actress in Hollywood would have been capable of bringing the brains and beauty to the character of Elle who moves from sorority president with a degree in fashion merchandising to a student at Harvard Law School in very short order. Reese proved her comedic skills were right on the money in this role, and the continued success of the Legally Blonde brand past the first movie owes itself largely to her acting.
Pleasantville – 1998
In Pleasantville, Reese Witherspoon played the younger sister of Tobey Maguire’s character who has himself transported back into a 1950s TV show land eerily similar to the hometown in Leave It to Beaver. Everything is perfect until chaos is slowly introduced by the new arrivals. At first Reese Witherspoon is a bad girl within the film, but by the end of the movie she has turned over an entirely new leaf.
Election – 1999
Election is at its heart a pretty raw movie. Reese Witherspoon contributes to the rawness as Tracy Flick, a young woman determined to be class president no matter the costs. Reese Witherspoon has repeatedly referred to herself as an extremely motivated woman in press interviews, and her turn as Tracy Flick, while perhaps a bit more vicious than Reese herself, demonstrates that motivation.
Walk the Line – 2005
The role of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line was a perfect choice for Reese after her somewhat lackluster turn in Vanity Fair in 2004. Witherspoon learned how to play the autoharp for her Oscar winning turn and also performed her own singing despite initial hesitation about her vocal ability (Fox News – Reese Witherspoon Begged Off of “Walk the Line”).
All five of these roles offered something different to fans of Reese Witherspoon while demonstrating her range as an actress. With her upcoming turn in the film adaptation of Water for Elephants sure to be hit, Reese Witherspoon is going to be a powerful force in a third decade of starring roles.