There are some romantic comedies that manage to become to part of our cultural consciousness and that we just can’t help ourselves from constantly quoting them and making references to them. Well, the 2001 classic that is Legally Blonde is certainly one of those. Starring Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, the perky blonde who enrolls at Harvard law school in order to win her man back, Legally Blonde has become somewhat of a cult classic of the rom-com genre.
Elle Woods a winning role model for many young people, showe\ing that with a lot of hard work and a tonne of blonde ambition, not only can you achieve your dreams, but you can make a positive impact on the world as well. Talk about a feel good film with a difference.
While many of us have watched this movie countless times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this movie that inspired many people to dust off their books and go to law school. From secret sartorial clauses to last-minute casting decisions, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes of this film than you might initially think.
Here are 15 Crazy Secrets Behind The Making Of Legally Blonde.
15 Reese Witherspoon Wasn't First Choice To Play Elle
It would be crazy to imagine anyone else besides Reese Witherspoon playing the iconic role of blonde lawyer Elle Woods, but surprisingly enough, she wasn’t first on the list to be considered for the part.
Tori Spelling was actually the first one to be asked to play Elle, and after she declined, Christina Applegate was next up for consideration. However, Applegate was reluctant to keep playing what she thought were stereotypical, ditzy blonde roles, and thus foolishly said no to the part as well.
Next in line were Katherine Heigl, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, and Charlize Theron, all asked to play the part, until finally director Robert Luketic pressed for Reese Witherspoon to play Elle, after having watched her act so wonderfully in Election. Someone likeable who has brains, beauty, and buckets of talents? Yep, that’s Reese.
14 Selma Blair Was A Last Minute Casting Decision
No one plays a preppy princess quite like Selma Blair, and to us, she would be an obvious choice to play Vivian in Legally Blonde. Warner’s uptight fiancee turns from loathsome to lovable over the course of the film.
However, Blair wasn’t the producers’ immediate first choice for the part. Chloe Sevigny was initially asked to agree to the role, but she declined the offer in order to take up another film that was shooting in Paris. Sevigny was also dubious about how successful Legally Blonde would be, figuring it would be just another rom-com to be lost to the annals of time. Boy, was she wrong.
Legally Blonde has gone down in history as one of the most iconic, brilliant romantic comedies ever, and she could have been a part of it. Thanks to her scepticism, we got Selma Blair to play Viv, who acts as the perfect counterpart to her eventual friend Elle.
13 Reese Bagged A Clause For A Closet Of Clothes
We all know by now that Reese Witherspoon is one clever cookie, and we’re not just talking about her Harvard-studying brains in Legally Blonde.
Witherspoon very cleverly got the filmmakers to agree to a clause in her contract that would allow her to keep all of the outfits she wears in the movie.
Anyone who has seen Legally Blonde knows that Elle Woods loves to shop and adores her chic couture clothes, so what a treat then for Witherspoon to be able to keep all of the fantastic outfits that were made for her for the movie. Apparently, Witherspoon has said in interviews that she rarely wears any of the Elle Woods’ clothes, but she keeps them safe, carefully wrapped up at home.
What a wonderful bunch of keepsakes from a role that catapulted her further into fame and more deeply into our hearts.
12 Harvard Wasn't The First-Choice College
We all know how hard Elle Woods worked to get into Harvard, but she probably would have been devastated to learn that not everyone sees Harvard as a first-choice college - including the makers of the film.
The story of Legally Blonde is actually based on a book by Amanda Brown, who penned her experiences of studying at Stanford Law School. However, when the people behind Legally Blonde approached Stanford in order to get their permission to film there, the college declined as it didn’t want its image tarnished in any way by the production of the movie. Neither did the University of Chicago, which was next up to be asked.
Only after these two institutions declined did the people behind Legally Blonde approach Harvard, which allowed them to use its name but didn’t give permission for the film to be shot there on location. The campuses we see in the movie are actually that of UCLA, USC, and Pasadena’s Rose City High School.
11 There's Truth Behind The Story Of Elle Woods
A story about a bubbly blonde who decides to go off to law school? Not exactly that hard to believe. Well, Legally Blonde is based on the real-life experiences of law-student Amanda Brown who wrote a scad of letters to her family while she was studying law at Stamford, detailing how she felt ostracized and unwelcome by her fellow classmates while studying there.
The letters were full of humor and she actually wrote them on pink paper with a fluffy pen. Sound familiar? These brilliant letters eventually got turned into a manuscript to be considered for a novel, and it was sheer luck that the publisher happened to pluck Brown's prospective book out of the pile of manuscripts on their desk. The reason? The manuscript itself was also written on pink paper.
10 There Was A Big Musical Number Cut From The Film
One of the most iconic scenes in the film is the infamous “Bend and Snap” sequence, which let’s be honest, most of us tried as our younger selves after watching the film. Hopefully, for all of us, the result wasn’t as disastrous as when Paulette tried it out on her hunky delivery man crush. Ouch!
However, the whole scene could have been even more iconic and over-the-top, had the director stayed with his original idea of having this whole scene be a musical number. Apparently the scene we see in the movie is just a very shortened version of a lengthy musical-type sequence, with Bend and Snaps flying about all over the place. Witherspoon has admitted that people still come up to her asking her to perform her signature pick-up move.
9 Matt Davis Had A Real Crush On Reese Witherspoon
It’s clear when watching Legally Blonde that Elle is way more into Warner than he is interested in her, but in real life this definitely wasn’t the case.
Matt Davis, who plays Elle’s scumbag boyfriend in the movie, had a real life crush on Reese Witherspoon. He’d been enamored by her since he was 15 years old and had seen her act in A Far Off Place. Obviously, when he found out he would be acting alongside his long-time crush Witherspooon, he was filled with neves to say the least.
So nervous was Matt Davis when faced with acting alongside Reese Witherspoon that the producers actually had to pull him aside and ask him if he was okay, because he was bumbling and stumbling over his lines so much when he was near her. In the end, Davis ended up confessing his feelings for Witherspoon, who very sweetly but firmly told him that they should get back to work. Ouch, right in the feelings.
8 The Toilet Paper Scene? It Was Based On A True Story
One of the funniest, most unrealistic scenes of the movie is actually part of Elle Woods’ Harvard admission video, when she tries to demonstrate how she incorporates law into her everyday life.
One of these examples is when she addresses her sorority sisters over the issue of the toilet paper being used in their house, and holds a vote over Charmin vs a generic brand. However, this seemingly ridiculous toilet paper vote was really based on a true event.
Karen McCullah Lutz, the film’s screenwriter, wrote this scene into the movie based on her own sorority experiences at James Madison University. It sounds just about weird enough to be true, and it’s definitely these kooky little details that make the film such a resounding success. Who knew toilet paper could hinge on democracy so much?
7 The Ovester Joke Was Real Too
Enid is a character everyone remembers in the film - she’s the liberal feminist who believes that the university is trying to oppress its female students with its subliminal messages of patriarchy with the word “semester.”
Enid explains to Warner and others at a party that she thinks the word should be changed to “ovester” in order to be more inclusive and respectful to women. As far-fetched as this whole interaction sounds, it’s based on real life events.
According Amanda Brown, the writer of the book Legally Blonde that inspired the movie, this discussion about changing “semester” to “ovester” really took place during her time studying law at Stanford. Brown found it so preposterous and so hilarious that she insisted it be included in both her book and the film that came out of it.
6 Reese Researched Real Sorority Culture For The Part
Reese Witherspoon being the seasoned professional that she is, went into her role as Elle Woods with a fiery determination to bring as much reality and believability to the part as possible.
In order to research her role properly, Reese spent a lot of time with real sorority girls from USC. She wanted to get a first-hand look at how they interacted with each other, what they got up to, and how they acted on campus. She took them out to lunches and dinners and went shopping with them in Beverly Hills in order to really get into their mindset.
Witherspoon wanted to ensure that she didn’t just paint Elle Woods as a ditzy, blonde bimbo, and clearly her research paid off, as Elle Woods manages to be smart, funny, and lovable, without falling into any kind of stereotype territory.
5 Real Frat Boys Were Included In The Movie
While Reese Witherspoon was getting up close and personal with real sorority girls in order to bring an authenticity and believability to her role, the producers were also going the extra mile to bring some truth to the movie by hiring real frat boys to be a part of the film.
In the opening credit sequence, we see a blonde girl cycle past a big group of fraternity boys out on the lawn. These were actually real frat bros who were into the middle of carrying out an initiation rite called “Grease Frosh”, which consists of dousing each other in shortening and oil and racing against one another to see who can carry a freshman successfully from one end of a field or here, a lawn, to another in the fastest time.
4 Elle Woods Was Actually A Genius
It’s safe to say that Elle Woods is a fashion icon, a great friend, and an overall wonderful role model. But you might not immediately count her as a genius. Well, she definitely is.
Part of the film’s plot sees Elle poring over law books in order to get into law school, and she passes up parties and fun activities in order to study for her LSAT exams. The final score she ends up with on this big test is 179 out of 180, which technically puts her in the top 0.1% of LSAT test-takers. Elle Woods is one smart cookie!
Considering the fact that Elle gets this amazingly high score and Warner ends up being waitlisted shows just how much of a genius Ms. Woods is, and makes her victory and her eventual Harvard-conquering that extra bit sweeter.
3 There's A Sneaky In-Joke That You Probably Missed
It’s always fun trying to spot Easter eggs and fun little details in a movie, and surprisingly enough, Legally Blonde sneaks in a little in-joke of its own too.
Not too long after the movie starts, Elle goes to the salon with her friends in order to cheer herself up, and we see her next to an older woman on a couch. This elderly lady is reading Seventeen magazine, and if you look closely, you can see that the cover picture depicts the stars of Josie and the Pussycats. Well, this may not mean much to you straight away, but it’s actually a nod to film producer Marc E. Platt, who produced both Josie and Legally Blonde.
Both of these female-led films came out in 2001, but as we know, the one starring Reese Witherspoon was obviously more successful. Now you won’t be able to miss this sneaky little detail the next time you watch the movie.
2 You Were Likely Fooled By A Blonde More Than Once In The Movie
Clearly the book needs to be re-written on blondes being less intelligent, because you were likely fooled at least once by a beautiful blonde in the film.
In the opening credit sequence, there’s a close-up shot of the back of a blonde’s head as she’s brushing her hair. The way the scene is edited, we’re led to believe this is Reese Witherspoon, aka Elle Woods. However, if you thought this was the real Reese, you’d be wrong.
This sequence was actually added after the rest of the film had already been shot, and Witherspoon was no longer available for filming as she’d moved on to another project. The woman we see with those luscious blonde locks is actually a stand-in. Who would have known, right?
1 The Original Ending Was Completely Different
The iconic last scene of Legally Blonde sees the whole class of 2004 graduating, with Elle Woods giving her famous “We did it!” speech. Well, as amazing at this send-off to the movie is, it wasn’t actually supposed to end this way.
The original ending was meant to be a scene depicting Emmett kissing Elle on the courthouse steps after she wins her big case, however this ending did not sit well with test audiences who were given a preview of the movie. The test viewing showed that people were so invested in Elle’s story that they wanted to see what happened to her after the court case finished and what happened between Warner and her.
Unfortunately, Reese Witherspoon was already shooting The Importance of Being Earnest in England at this point, so the filmmakers had to shoot the final additional scene at Dulwich College in London. Thank goodness they made this wise decision, as we couldn't have left Elle without getting full closure.
Do you have any other trivia to share about Legally Blonde? Let us know in the comments!