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Robert Pattinson may be the main attraction in the period drama "Water for Elephants" (in theaters today), but his leading lady Reese Witherspoon has owned Hollywood's center stage for years. Giving a wide array of performances (it's rare to find someone who is as equally great at comedy as she is at drama), Reese has all but taken the silver screen by storm. Now the New Orleans-born beauty will be adding another impressive turn to her continually evolving resume. Let's look back at how Reese came to be one of today's biggest stars.

Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon on March 22, 1976, no one would have suspected this Southern belle would become an actress. After all, both of her parents worked in the medical field (her father John was a physician and her mother Betty a pediatric nurse). Still, Reese caught the acting bug early. At the age of 14 she she landed her first role, the lead in a coming-of-age drama called "The Man in the Moon."


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