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What, like it’s hard? For years, fans have been quoting Legally Blonde and its very relatable main character, glamour girl turned Harvard law student, Elle Woods. But do they know it was based on a real-life person?
Legally Blonde first hit theaters in 2001, with a sequel later released in 2003 following Elle after she graduated. Twenty years later, even the movie’s biggest fans might not know every secret behind the film. Read on for some of the facts about the hit film.
The movie is based on a book inspired by a real-life story
Before Elle, there was Amanda Brown. The real-life Brown went to Stanford Law, apparently due to its proximity to the Stanford Shopping Center, and first got the idea for her novel Legally Blonde by compiling all her funny stories and letters from her time studying law at the prestigious university. Though she never graduated, she still used her time at the school for something greater.
Brown turned her stories into the comedy novel, creating all the fan-favorite characters like Elle and her ex-boyfriend Warner Huntington III.
“I wrote it all on pink paper, with my pink furry pen,” she said of her book back in 2003. “I finally found an agent who picked it up out of a slush pile because it was on pink paper.”
Christina Applegate was almost cast as Elle
Witherspoon counts Elle as one of her most iconic roles, putting her on the map as a bonafide A-Lister. But Elle was almost played by someone else entirely.
According to Christina Applegate, she passed on the role. The actress said in 2015 that she decided to turn it down in order to not be typecast as a stereotypical dumb blonde after playing a similar character in the sitcom Married With Children.
“What a stupid move that was, right?” she told Entertainment Tonight. “Reese deserved that. She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that’s her life. That’s her path.”
Witherspoon spent time with real sorority members
To get the part just right, Witherspoon met several sorority members to get a feel for how they talk and move.
“I went to dinner with them. It’s sort of like an anthropological study. You learn what they eat, how they behave, how they take care of their young, that sort of thing,” she told Entertainment Weekly in 2001.
The visit, which she took with costume designer Sophie de Rakoff, also helped establish pink as Elle’s go-to color.
“Reese and I actually went to visit a sorority house in the early prep, and it was just obvious that pink should be her signature color,” de Rakoff told Elle magazine in 2012.
Bend and snap was created in a ‘drunken moment in a bar’
The most iconic move from the film came to life in a drunken moment. Legally Blonde co-writer Karen McCullah told Entertainment Weekly how they were searching for Paulette, Elle’s beauty shop friend, when McCullah suddenly came up with the idea while at a bar.
“What if Elle shows [Paulette] a move so she can get the UPS guy?” McCullah recalled thinking, then doing the move for the first-ever time. “It was a spontaneous invention. It was a completely drunken moment in a bar.”
Witherspoon had just given birth when she took on the role
Witherspoon was a brand new mom when she starred as Elle, which proved difficult at the time for the young star. The actress was 23 when she had daughter Ava, who was still an infant while filming Legally Blonde. In a previous interview, Witherspoon opened up about the time Ava kept her up sick multiple nights and how her ex-husband Ryan Phillippe helped her through it.
“I couldn’t have done it without Ryan’s support. I was worried that I wasn’t getting enough sleep because my daughter Ava was sick quite often during the shoot and there were a lot of days when I didn’t think I could pull it off,” Witherspoon told Cinema. “Ryan was there every day for me and to take care of Ava. He kept telling me that everything was going to work out fine and that I should stop freaking out. That’s exactly the kind of reassurance I needed. I didn’t think I could juggle being a mother and looking after a young baby.”
Chloë Sevigny almost played Vivian
Just like Witherspoon, Selma Blair almost didn’t star as her iconic character. The role of Vivian, Warner’s new Harvard girlfriend, was originally offered to Chloë Sevigny. The actress revealed the tidbit in an interview with the Daily Beast in 2014 when she talked about the French film Demonlover, which she chose to do instead.
“Oh, I don’t know. I mean… I wasn’t offered the lead in Legally Blonde. It was, I think, the friend,” she said of rumors that she had turned down Legally Blonde.
Witherspoon kept all 60 outfits from the film
Turns out Witherspoon loved Elle’s style just as much as fans. The Oscar winner has since revealed she’s kept all 60 outfits from the film and showed off her closet in Get Organized with The Home Edit. The TV series shows the Home Edit duo transform Witherspoon’s closet to showcase all the Elle outfits she kept.
Back in 2016, she posted a video of her trying on some of the clothes for the first time in 15 years, including Elle’s tiny pink bikini.
Matthew Davis had a huge crush on Witherspoon
The real-life Warner had a crush on Witherspoon that dated back to when he was 15. In an interview around the time the movie was coming out, Matthew Davis revealed his affection for Witherspoon was causing a bit of a problem on set.
“Ever since I was 15 and watched A Far Off Place, I had the hugest crush on Reese,” he admitted. “So at first I was such a bumbling idiot with her, the producers pulled me aside one day to see if I was OK.”
But when Davis told her about the crush, Witherspoon, who was married to Phillippe at the time, handled it like a professional.
“She was like, ‘That’s so sweet! OK, let’s work on the scene,’” he recalled.
The movie originally had a different ending
The writers originally envisioned for the movie to end right after Elle wins her big case and kisses Luke Wilson outside the courthouse. But test audiences weren’t feeling it.
“It was just kind of a weak ending,” she said at Vulture Festival in 2015. “The kiss didn’t feel right because it’s not a rom-com — it wasn’t about their relationship. So test audiences were saying, ‘We want to see what happens — we want to see her succeed.’ So that’s why we rewrote for graduation.”
Mindy Kaling is co-writing the third movie in the works
After fans spent years asking for more, Witherspoon officially announced a Legally Blonde 3 is in the works back in 2018. The movie is set to open in May 2022 and was co-written by Mindy Kaling and Brooklyn Nine-Nine creator Dan Goor. Kaling has since spoken about writing the latest version of Elle Woods.
“I love Elle Woods as a character and when Reese asked me if I wanted to write it I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ ” she told Access.
“I can’t wait to see what people will think of the way we wrote Elle Woods. We wrote Elle Woods at 40, so how Elle is at 40 versus how she was at 21 has been really fun to imagine,” Kaling shared.
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