Reese Witherspoon was told she was 'repellent' and had to 'dress sexy' for film auditions

Reese Witherspoon has said she was told to “dress sexy” for film auditions because a studio head thought she was “repellent”.

After starring in the 1999 cult classic Election as the ruthless and overachieving central character Tracy Flick, Witherspoon says studio bosses thought of her as a “shrew”.

“They thought I was a shrew,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. ”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.”

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She added: “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.’”

It was around that time that Witherspoon was cast in 2001’s Legally Blonde, which made $142m {£108m) worldwide.

Speaking separately at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Power 100 Women in Entertainment breakfast, Witherspoon said: “By the way, the definition of the word ‘shrew’ as pertains to a woman is technically ‘a woman of violent temper and speech’, which nowadays I understand to be a woman who speaks her mind and raises her voice against the system which underestimates her.

“So I would like to just say, ‘Thank you. I am a shrew.’”

Witherspoon was nominated for a Golden Globe earlier this week for her performance in The Morning Show, a series about a news anchor at the centre of a sexual harassments scandal.

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