Reese Witherspoon Turns 40! From Motherhood to Oscar, the Birthday Gal's 12 Defining Moments Through the Years
From child star to Oscar winner, it's been quite a journey for America's sweetheart
Reese Witherspoon has a lot to celebrate.
On top of her many accolades and most recent achievements such as landing a second Oscar nomination, working as a producer on the highly anticipated HBO series Big Little Lies, the star is celebrating a major milestone: her 40th birthday.
But unlike some women dreading the big 4-0, Witherspoon welcomes the new decade. “Some women might feel nervous about turning 40, but Reese is not one of them,” a source close to the star tells PEOPLE. “She is in such a good place and couldn’t wish for anything else.”
In honor of her 40th birthday, we’re taking a look back at her most memorable moments, in life and career. Scroll through to see them all.
Reese Makes Her Major Film Debut in The Man in the Moon
After dabbling in modeling as a child, Witherspoon made her big on-screen debut in 1991’s The Man in the Moon, a coming-of-age film that saw the teen developing feelings for her 17-year-old neighbor played by Jason London.
Cruel Intentions Hits Theaters
The now cult classic 1999 film, which inspired a recently announced TV series reboot, catapulted Witherspoon into the Hollywood A-list, while also introducing her to her future husband, fellow costar Ryan Phillippe.
Reese Becomes a Mom
From Cruel Intentions to motherhood – Witherspoon and Phillippe welcomed their daughter, Ava – who just so happens to be a twin to her mother s 23-year-old self. The couple also has a son named Deacon together in 2003.
Election Earns Reese Her First Golden Globe Nomination
Are you even surprised? Reese landed her first-ever Golden Globe nomination for her hilarious role in Election, also starring Matthew Broderick and Chris Klein. To research the role, a 22-year-old Witherspoon enrolled as a transfer student in a high school, where she took classes like calculus. “I wanted to stand up in front of everyone and say, ‘You know, you are never going to have to know any of this. I’m a real-life adult and I have never had to use calculus in my whole life,'” she told E! while promoting the film.
Reese’s Elle Woods Goes Down in Pop Culture History
Witherspoon’s take on sorority girl-turned-Harvard law student remains one of the most memorable comedies of all time, providing viewers with an unforgettable feminist message, the power of “ the bend and snap” and even scored the Southern beauty her second Golden Globe nomination. The film also inspired a musical, which bowed on Broadway in 2007.
Winning Big with Walk the Line
Not only did 2005’s Walk the Line serve as a critically acclaimed chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter (portrayed by Witherspoon), but the film also scored the Legally Blonde star with her first-ever Oscar nomination and win, adding on to her Golden Globe and BAFTA wins during the same awards season. “Thank you to [director and writer] James Mangold who wrote this character, who is a real woman who has dignity and honor and fear and courage and she’s a real woman, and I really appreciate that,” she said in her 2006 Oscars acceptance speech.
Reese and Husband Ryan Phillippe Split
The pair file for divorce after seven years of marriage in 2007. “I lay on my kitchen floor and cried a lot and I think at a certain point you just wake up and you’re like, ‘Okay, I don’t want to feel like this anymore.’ And you figure your own sh-t out,” she said in a 2014 interview. “But no one’s going to figure it out for you.”
Reese Finds Love
After her split from Phillippe, the Oscar winner eventually found love again with talent agent Jim Toth. The couple tied the knot in 2011, and most recently celebrated their fifth anniversary together. “Since marrying Jim, Reese is transformed,” a source close to the actress tells PEOPLE of the pair, who welcomed son Tennessee in 2012. “Even now, she often gets giddy when she talks about him. They very much complement each other.”
A New Business Venture
In 2012, Witherspoon made it her mission to launch her own production company, Pacific Standard, in an effort to provide opportunities to women of all different skills in the film industry. “I think it was literally one studio that had a project for a female lead over 30,” the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get busy.'” Most notably, the actress has worked on Gone Girl, Wild (which landed the star an Oscar nomination) and HBO series Big Little Lies.
Hello, Draper James
The actress-producer sets her sights on a stylish venture in the form of a lifestyle site and brick-and-mortar store, Draper James – named after her grandparents. “I love all the Southern traditions that I grew up with,” she told Cricket’s Circle before the site’s launch in 2015. “My grandmother instilled in me a love for dressing up and hosting family. She surrounded herself with colorful flowers and beautiful things. I wanted to bring all these ideas to a retail experience – it’s my way of giving back to the place I love the most.”