The film became a box office success and a cult classic.
Her performance received good reviews and garnered her the Young Hollywood Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance.
Her other films include Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003), Monsters vs.
Aliens (2009), Water for Elephants (2011), and Sing (2016).
In 1993, she played a young wife in the CBS miniseries Return to Lonesome Dove, Nonnie Parker in the Disney film A Far Off Place and had a minor role in Jack the Bear, which garnered her the Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actress Co-star.
as Nicole Walker, a teenage girl who starts dating a man with obsessive tendencies, and the black-comedy thriller Freeway, alongside Kiefer Sutherland and Brooke Shields, where she held the lead role. Among them was the San Francisco Chronicle, with Mick La Salle commenting, "Witherspoon, who does a Texas accent, is dazzling, utterly believable in one extreme situation after the other." In Pleasantville, she starred with Tobey Maguire in a tale about 1990s teenage siblings who are magically transported into the setting of a 1950s television series.
I would audition for things and I'd always be the second choice—studios never wanted to hire me and I wasn't losing the parts to big box office actresses but to ones who I guess people felt differently about." The 2001 film Legally Blonde marked a turning point in Witherspoon's career; she starred as Elle Woods, a fashion-merchandising major who decides to become a law student in order to follow her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School. In 2002, after the success of Legally Blonde, Witherspoon starred in several roles, such as Greta Wolfcastle in The Simpsons episode "The Bart Wants What It Wants", and as Cecily in the comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play in which she received a Teen Choice Award nomination.