During their seven-year marriage, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon were one of the most photogenic Hollywood couples around. And the now-divorced pair also appear to have passed their camera-friendly genes on to their two kids. Here’s how a photo of Ava and Deacon sent the internet into meltdown over their uncanny resemblance to their folks.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1976, Witherspoon first appeared on screen in 1991’s Man on the Moon. She went on to receive acclaim for her performances in 1996’s Freeway and 1998’s Pleasantville. And in 1999 the star even received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Tracy Flick in Election.
In 2001, however, Witherspoon landed one of her defining roles: Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. And her career would only go from strength to strength from there. After achieving further box office success with Sweet Home Alabama, the actress then picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter in 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Witherspoon also received another Academy Award nod in 2014 playing another real-life figure, Cheryl Strayed, in inspirational biopic Wild.
Witherspoon has enjoyed success behind the scenes, too, serving as producer on movie Gone Girl and HBO’s Big Little Lies. The actress won a Primetime Emmy for her involvement in the latter miniseries, in which she also took a leading role. But arguably one of her most popular works remains Cruel Intentions, the 1999 teen movie based on Les Liaisons dangereuses.
And Witherspoon was seduced by her then-boyfriend and future husband, Ryan Phillippe, in the scandalous drama. Born in New Castle, Delaware, in 1974, Phillippe had also started his acting career in his late teens, starring in One Life to Live as Billy Douglas. His big break came in 1996, however, when he showed up as Gil Martin in Ridley Scott’s White Squall.
Phillippe went on to star alongside several other late ’90s celebrities in horror I Know What You Did Last Summer. He also appeared in period drama Gosford Park, the Oscar-winning Crash and Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers. In 2010 the actor even showed off his comedic chops in the Saturday Night Live spin-off MacGruber.
Then, after roles in The Lincoln Lawyer and The Bang-Bang Club, Phillippe returned to television in the adaptation of the Mark Wahlberg thriller Shooter. During his stint as Bob Lee Swagger on the USA Network show, the actor additionally appeared in horror movie Wish Upon. But he’s perhaps still best remembered by many for his performance in Cruel Intentions.
And Witherspoon and Phillippe had first encountered each other in 1997 at a party celebrating Witherspoon’s 21st birthday. Then, less than two years later, the pair announced their engagement, and by the summer of 1999 they were husband and wife. Witherspoon was just three months away from giving birth to the couple’s first child at the ceremony in South Carolina.
Then the newlyweds’ daughter Ava Elizabeth arrived in September 1999, to be joined by little brother Deacon Reese four years later. But, sadly, the children’s parents wouldn’t stay together forever, as in 2006 they confirmed that they were separating. Witherspoon and Phillippe’s divorce was finalized two years later, with the pair agreeing to joint custody of their two kids.
After that split, Witherspoon began dating Jim Toth, a Creative Artists Agency talent agent, in 2010. And following a brief engagement, the pair married at the actress’ country estate in Ojai, California, a year later. More happy news was to come, too, as in 2012 Witherspoon gave birth to the couple’s first child, Tennessee James.
Meanwhile, after his divorce, Phillippe entered into a three-year relationship with his Stop-Loss co-star Abbie Cornish. The actor then briefly dated Alexis Knapp, the mother to his third child, Kia, who was born in 2011. And Phillippe and his next girlfriend, law graduate Paulina Slagter, stayed together for five years before parting ways in 2016.
Fast-forward to 2018, however, and Phillippe posted a photo on Instagram of himself, Ava and Deacon that sent the internet into meltdown. Why? Well, the youngsters looked like the spitting image of their famous parents. That was so much the case, in fact, that Cosmopolitan even wondered if the actor had somehow jumped back into the past for a snap with his and Witherspoon’s younger selves.
“Wow, your son looks like your twin! And your daughter like Reese,” one Instagram commenter wrote, before adding, “They couldn’t look more like their parents if they tried.” Another replied, meanwhile, “Wow, your son is literally your same stamp.” The “mini Reese and Ryan” was how many followers described the youngsters.
It must be noted, though, that Phillippe had previously spoken about his kids’ physical similarities to himself and his ex-wife. He told Entertainment Tonight in 2017, “It’s an odd thing that people fixate on that. We don’t sit around talking about how much we look alike.”
“I’ve wondered sometimes how [Ava and Deacon] feel about it,” Phillippe went on to add. “We’ve talked about it too. But I think we’ve all made peace with the fact that we’re out there in the public, and people are going to choose to key on whatever is interesting to them.” The actor then claimed that the resemblance between the parents and their children wasn’t something that really bothered him and his family.
But while this may mark the first time that Deacon has been called a doppelganger of his dad, Ava had already been compared to her Oscar-winning mother several times previously. Indeed, Witherspoon has caused many of her Instagram followers to do double takes over the years, thanks to the various photos of her and Ava that she posts on Instagram.
And at a screening of Big Little Lies in 2017, Witherspoon revealed that she and her daughter were now used to all the lookalike talk. She told E! News, “People come up to [Ava all the time]. We were at a premiere, and they were congratulating her on her performance. She’s like, ‘I’m not in the movie.’”
Ava has been compared in particular to her mother’s looks in Sweet Home Alabama and Four Christmases. And the pair seemed to embrace being doppelgangers in early 2018 when they appeared alongside each other at a fashion shoot for Draper James. However, during that occasion, Ava was nevertheless keen to point out that she still had her own distinct fashion sense.
Indeed, Ava told Teen Vogue, “The best thing about how my mom has influenced my style is that, while I do take her advice, it’s still my own. She and I agree on a lot of what’s ‘fashionable.’ But we have different taste, and she’s really respectful of my personality as I express it through clothes.”
Alongside her work with her mother for Draper James, Ava has also proved she can cut it as a fashion model alone. In 2018 the teen joined the likes of Tessa Thompson and Danai Gurira to show off the fall collection for Rodarte. And shortly before Phillippe’s internet-breaking photo was uploaded, both Ava and Deacon enjoyed a joint graduation party for completing high school and junior high, respectively.