Reese Witherspoon initially had no interest in playing Annette Hargrove.
While Phillippe had already signed on to portray Sebastian Valmont, Witherspoon — who had been dating Phillippe at the time — had little interest in the role of Annette Hargrove. Phillippe and director Roger Kumble even pleaded their case to Witherspoon over dinner one night. "We drank a lot of wine. We were wooing her! She loved the movie for me, but it wasn't a great part at the time for her," Phillippe said. "She helped Roger turn it into one."
It's true: after feeling as though Annette was too one-dimensional, Witherspoon helped write a better character. She explained, "I remember finding Annette too demure and too much of a woman influenced by a guy's manipulations. I was starting what I guess became my bigger mission in life — of questioning why women were written certain ways on film."
Witherspoon ended up sitting with Kumble for a week to improve Annette's dialogue before stepping into the role. Kumble said, "There's no way the movie would have its success if it weren't for her talent as a writer."