Actress Reese Witherspoon and actor Ryan Phillippe attend the ‘Legally Blonde’ Westwood Premiere on June 26, 2001 at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Big Little Lies and The Morning Show actor Reese Witherspoon has revealed she nearly missed out on playing career-defining character Elle Woods because the studio believed she wasn’t capable of playing the fluffy, bubbly character.

Two years prior, a young Witherspoon had famously played the ruthless Tracy Flick in 1999’s dark comedy Election. While she was praised for her role, director’s couldn’t see past Witherspoon as Ruth and doubted her versatility as an actor.

“They thought I was a shrew,” she says. “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. 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.’”

Actress Reese Witherspoon attends the premiere of MGM Pictures” “Legally Blonde” June 26, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Of the film’s audition, Witherspoon went along in full character. “I remember a room full of men who were asking me questions about being a co-ed 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,” she says.

Witherspoon is producing and starring in the highly anticipated Legally Blonde 3, which is set to come out in 2020.

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