She took her first lead role in a romantic drama, The Man in the Moon, at the age of 14.Throughout all her subsequent film success, achieving box-office highs with Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, she has remained close to her family, to this day never forgetting to credit her mother for guiding her through life.She attended an all-girls school and was a straight-A student – an ambitious young lady, bookworm and cheerleader, affectionately nicknamed by her family "Little Type A", hence the name of her production company.Going on to spend just one year studying English literature at the prestigious Stanford University, she left to pursue acting, having already been bitten by the bug at the age of seven, when she appeared in a local florists' commercial.Born in New Orleans to Catholic parents – her mother a nursing professor and her father an ENT specialist – she was raised with a typical Southern gentility which often makes her stand out from the brasher elements of Hollywood.
Maybe it's because she's been a mother for most of her adult life – she was just 23 when she had her first child – or perhaps it's because she married young, but the actress was curious to know how it felt to be a single woman with two men fighting for her love.I mean, that's more for us women than for our male counterparts.I hope to have as long lasting a career [as the men]." Witherspoon has recently completed work on the Mississippi drama Mud; she'll also portray 1950s artist Margaret Keane in Bug Eyes, and she's co-starring with Colin Firth in next year's satanic thriller Devil's Knot." Asked to describe a dating deal-breaker, she wrinkles her brow and casts her mind back: "I had somebody go into my computer without asking me and look at all my photos. Not just for celebrities, but for anyone with a smartphone, Facebook page or even an i Tunes account. It affects everyone today, although I think it's probably affected me for a little bit longer," she laughs in recognition of the two decades she's spent in the spotlight. It's something that you make peace with and you try to be careful and safe about things." One of the most diverse actresses of her generation, she slips easily between comedy, romance, period fare and drama.And while she took home the Best Actress Oscar in 2006 for her portrayal of June Carter in biopic Walk the Line, she's often better recognised for her fine-tuned comedic skills; her This Means War co-star Tom Hardy described working with her as a "master class in the comedy genre".