10 Movie Performances Which Saved An Actor’s Career

8. Reese Witherspoon - Cheryl Strayed In Wild

John Travolta
Fox Searchlight

Though she had appeared in the likes of Friends and American Psycho already, Reese Witherspoon really burst onto the scene in 2001 after her performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. From here, the actor became one of the most sought after performers in the business, showing up in everything from The Simpsons to Walk the Line (for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress).

However, as the actor reached the end of the 2000s, it became increasingly clear, after regularly appearing in critical duds like Four Christmases, This Means War, and How Do You Know, that she wasn't getting involved with projects she was legitimately passionate about. Witherspoon confirmed this herself a few years later, stating that she was "kind of floundering career-wise" and just working for the sake of working.

That all changed when Witherspoon decided to found a production company by the name of Pacific Standard, with the aim being to produce films featuring strong female leads. The actor would then go on to produce and star in Wild, giving what many classed as her most detailed, honest and compelling performance in years as Cheryl Strayed.

Witherspoon would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her work on Wild and hasn't looked back since, starring in and producing both the Big Little Lies and The Morning Show series.

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Lifts rubber and metal. Watches people flip in spandex and pretends to be other individuals from time to time...