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When Reese Witherspoon stepped on the scene in the 1990s she seemed like the quintessential girl next door. However, almost from the beginning with movies like Election and Cruel Intentions, the actress took on roles that weren’t exactly typical of a young actress as the time.

In 2001 she snagged the starring role in Legally Blonde. Elle Woods was a witty, gusty, coed who earned her place at Harvard Law to spite her ex-boyfriend. The role catapulted Witherspoon’s success. From there, she was able to snag her Academy Award-winning role in Walk the Line and launch her own production company, Hello Sunshine.

These days, with Hello Sunshine and roles in series like HBO’s Big Little Lies, Apple TV’s The Morning Show, and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, the 44-year-old is one of the highest-paid actresses in the world. But the amount of money she was paid for her breakout role in Legally Blonde is much lower than you’d expect.

Inside Reese Witherspoon’s net worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Witherspoon is worth $200 million and she takes home between $20 million to $40 million per year. Amid the success of Big Little Lies Season 1, and with her producing credit, the Oscar winner was able to begin negotiating major paydays for her TV work. She was paid $1 million per episode for Big Little Lies Season 2, and $1.25 million per episode salary for Apple TV’s The Morning Show.

Though the actress’ projects are currently on pause amid the global pandemic, Legally Blonde 3 and several Netflix romantic comedies are slated for release in the coming years. Therefore, we’re certain that Witherspoon will continue to be one of the highest-paid actresses in the world for years to come.

Additionally, her Draper James clothing brand also earns her some major money.

Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Legally Blonde’ salary was not as much as you thought

Though Witherspoon will go down in history for her role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, she didn’t actually earn a ton of money for the project. In fact, she received her first multi-million dollar paycheck for the role.

Two years prior, for her role in Cruel Intentions, Witherspoon took home just $250,000 for the movie. However, the Wild actress’ paycheck for Legally Blonde set a precedent for her pay for the remainder of her career. In 2002, for the rom-com, Sweet Home Alabama, she was paid $12.5 million, significantly more money then she’d earned for Legally Blonde.


Why Reese Witherspoon Says ‘Women Need to Talk About Money More Often’

Reese Witherspoon negotiated a massive pay bump for ‘Legally Blonde 2’

For Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Witherspoon earned even more, with a $15 million paycheck and a producing credit. She also negotiated the heck out of her contract.

“Well, I got all my wardrobe,” Witherspoon revealed on The Graham Norton Show in 2019 about keeping 77 paid of Jimmy Choo shoes. “I had it written in my contract. I’ve never touched them and on the 15th anniversary, I took them all out of storage and tried them all on, some of them fit, some of them didn’t, and then, yeah, it was really cool. And then I showed them all to my daughter and it was really cool.”