Happy Birthday Reese Witherspoon! A look at the star's most memorable roles

The actress turns 43 today!

Happy Birthday Reese Witherspoon! A look at the star's most memorable roles
Michael Kovac/Getty Images
March 22, 2019, 4:30 AM

Reese Witherspoon turns 43 today!

The actress, activist and mother-of-three has made an immeasurable impact on and off the screen. She's one of the most prominent female leaders in Hollywood for the Time's Up movement and devotes much of her platform to finding more roles for women in the film industry.

To become such a powerful female force in the entertainment business, Witherspoon has taken on a wide range of roles throughout her career that have helped show off her impressive range as an actress.

From her memorable character Elle Woods in the cult classic "Legally Blonde" to starring as Annette in the twisted an equally well-known film, "Cruel Intentions," Witherspoon clearly never shies away from experimentation in her craft.

Check out some of the star's most iconic roles.

Pleasantville – 1998

Witherspoon starred alongside Tobey Maguire in the 1998 drama about two siblings that get stuck in a 1950s television show.

She celebrated the film turning 20 in October 2018 with a throwback post alongside Maguire.

"Can you believe it's been 20 years since #Pleasantville!?" she captioned the post. "I have such fond memories of working on this film, with such unique & talented humans: Gary Ross, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, Paul Walker."

PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Pleasantville," 1998.
Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Pleasantville," 1998.
New Line Cinema via Newscom

Cruel Intentions - 1999

One of her most famous roles was playing the female lead Anette in "Cruel Intentions." The film's director Roger Kumble spoke to Cosmopolitan in 2014 about how she landed the role -- and even had a hand in shaping the character into a stronger woman.

"We got into disagreements over who was going to play Annette," he told the outlet. "The studio wanted Katie Holmes, who was just starting to do 'Dawson's Creek.' And I liked this actor Vinessa Shaw. And they were both great."

"But this was early Katie, and I thought we needed someone with a little more strength of character," he continued. "And we just couldn't agree. And then, literally, I was hanging out with Ryan one night and I was like, 'What about your girlfriend?'"

PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from the film "Cruel Intentions," 1999.
Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from the film "Cruel Intentions," 1999.
Columbia Pictures/Getty Images, FILE

"So, basically, we took Reese out to dinner to get her drunk, and we ended up getting drunk," he said.

"And I literally got down on my knees and begged her: 'Please, it'll be 15 days, you'll be great.' And Reese was like, 'I'll do it. But we need to work on the character.' I'm like, 'Anything, anything, anything.' She wanted to strengthen the character, and she was right. And she and I got together, and we gave Annette more bite so she wasn't a doormat. And I'm very grateful to her for that."

Legally Blonde – 2001

An even bigger role of Witherspoon's? Elle Woods, the stylish sorority girl turned lawyer who inspired young women and broke conventional stereotypes.

PHOTO: Jessica Cauffie, Reese Witherspoon and Alanna Ubach appear in a scene from "Legally Blonde," 2001.
Jessica Cauffie, Reese Witherspoon and Alanna Ubach appear in a scene from "Legally Blonde," 2001.
MGM

The actress confirmed in an Instagram post last year that she will star in the third installment of the film. "It’s true... #LegallyBlonde3," she wrote.

Sweet Home Alabama - 2002

The romantic comedy she starred in with Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey was another noteworthy role in her career.

Witherspoon said she wouldn't count out making a sequel, in a Facebook segment in 2016.

“I love Sweet Home Alabama too!” Witherspoon said during the Q & A on Facebook. “No, we are not making a sequel — that I know of. But if Disney wants to make a sequel, they can just call me! I would happily make Sweet Home Alabama 2.”

PHOTO: A scene from "Sweet Home Alabama," 2002.
A scene from "Sweet Home Alabama," 2002.
Touchstone Pictures via Newscom

Lucas also said that he's discussed the idea with the actress.

"I’ve even reached out to Reese, and I know Reese has said as well — it’s an iconic film," he said at an Access Live appearance in 2018. "I would love [a sequel] because I would love to see where these characters ended up or where they are at this point in their lives."

Walk The Line - 2005

Witherspoon won her first and only Academy Award for best actress for her performance in "Walk The Line" in 2006. She played June Carter, alongside Joaquin Phoenix, who played Johnny Cash in the film.

PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Walk the line," 2005.
Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Walk the line," 2005.
Twentieth Century Fox via Newscom

"I worked really hard on #WalkTheLine, taking singing lessons for 6 months, learning to play the auto-harp (which was REALLY Fun!) and watching endless tapes of June Carter," she said in an Instagram post last year. "So, when I won the on Oscar on March 5, 2006, it meant the world to me to be recognized by my peers. Overwhelmed, excited and truly humbled, I will never forget that moment."

Wild - 2014

The film, based on the real-life, best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, was a unique role for Witherspoon. She played a woman who sets out on a life-altering hike after losing her mother and dealing with a failed marriage.

PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon in a scene from the film, "Wild."
Reese Witherspoon in a scene from the film, "Wild."
Fox Searchlight Pictures/Anne Marie Fox/AP

Witherspoon earned an Academy Award nomination for the film in 2015.

Big Little Lies - 2017

The actress currently stars as Madeline Mackenzie on the hit HBO show. She is also an Executive Producer for it!

PHOTO: Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Big Little Lies," 2017.
Reese Witherspoon in a scene from "Big Little Lies," 2017.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

The second season premieres in June.