Witherspoon, who covers the The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment issue, said she was perceived as a “shrew” following her role in the 1999 film Election and was told by her management to up the sex appeal for her audition for Elle Woods.
“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,’” Witherspoon said.
“And then I was told to dress sexy,” she added.
Of course, if she was told anything of the sort now, Witherspoon wouldn't hesitate to walk away from the project, but at the time she was 23 and had just welcomed her first daughter with then-husband Ryan Phillippe.
In the audition, Witherspoon adopted a southern accent and bluffed her way through questions about being in a sorority house, despite dropping out of college. “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.”
Eventually, she beat out the other actresses such as Christina Applegate, Katherine Heigl and Gwyneth Paltrow to be cast as Elle - and the rest is history.
This article originally appeared on marie claire Australia