Reese Witherspoon Says Losing ‘Romeo + Juliet’ Role To ‘Amazing’ Claire Danes Was ‘Devastating’

Reese Witherspoon may be one of Hollywood’s brightest successes, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen her fair share of disappointment along the way.

In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the Oscar winner reflected on her three-decade journey from promising up-and-comer to A-list powerhouse and revealed which missed opportunities hit her the hardest.

“Oh my God, I wanted to do ‘Romeo + Juliet so badly, so badly,” she said of auditioning for the lead role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Lurhmann’s 1996 Shakespeare adaptation.

“Of course, Claire Danes was amazing, but it was devastating to me that I didn’t get it after screen tests and getting really close,” she added.

Claire Danes is surprised as Leonardo DiCaprio takes her hand to kiss in scene from the film ‘Romeo + Juliet’, 1996. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Reese also noted that she “went hard” for other coveted ’90s roles during her rise to fame, including Cher in “Clueless,” and acknowledged that she didn’t have the healthiest mindset at the time.

“I was really unhappy,” she said, recalling that she was “very competitive and jealous of other women and not supportive” early in her career.

“I was not seeing the abundance of opportunity,” she added.

Reese explained that becoming pregnant with daughter Ava at 22 helped her realize that “something had to shift” and she began to focus on what kind of legacy she wanted to create with her film choices.

“Who do I want my daughter to see? I really want to be a woman she looks up to. … I worked on it a lot,” Reese recalled.

Now, the 47-year-old spearheads dozens of female-led projects through her production company, Hello Sunshine, and has been an empowering advocate across multiple entertainment platforms.

Reese Witherspoon And Jennifer Garner Stun At ‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ Premiere

Reese Witherspoon And Jennifer Garner Stun At ‘The Last Thing He Told Me’ Premiere

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And it seems Ava has taken notice just as Reese had hoped!

“Ava was asking me the other day about where I come up with these characters, like Tracy Flick, Elle Woods, and [Melanie Smooter from] ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ I created them all within the span of five, six years in my 20s,” Reese said, admitting that even she can’t believe how much she’s accomplished. “Sometimes I look back and go, ‘’How the hell did I do that?'”

— Erin Biglow

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