Legally Blonde’s cast & crew reveal the movie’s original script was much raunchier and was initially written “in the vein of American Pie.”
Legally Blonde’s original script was “much raunchier” according to cast and crew members. The Reese Witherspoon-led film turns 20 this year and helped to cement the actress who was already relatively well-known from films like Little Nicky and American Psycho, as a household Hollywood name. Based on the novel by Amanda Brown, the film followed Witherspoon’s sorority queen Elle Woods as she enrolled in law school at Harvard in a desperate attempt to win back her boyfriend. What transpired, however, was a journey of self-discovery with Elle eventually going on to defend a fellow sorority alumna who is accused of murder.
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The film is often hailed as a feminist masterpiece through its portrayal of female empowerment, handling of issues including workplace misogyny and sexual harassment, and deconstructing the “dumb-blonde” trope that long-plagued both society and Hollywood films. The film would go on to acquire a sequel in 2003 and inspire a stage-musical based on the original film in 2007. A third sequel is currently in development with Witherspoon set to reprise her role as Elle, and is due for release in 2022.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Legally Blonde’s release, several members of the cast and crew sat down with The New York Times to discuss the film’s development. One of the most interesting pieces of information to come from the interview was the revelation that the original script for the film was “much raunchier.” Actress Jessica Cauffiel, who played Elle close friend Margot, revealed how much the film changed over the course of development, describing the first script as being “in the vein of American Pie. Cauffiel’s full statement can be read below:
The first script was very raunchy, to be honest, in the vein of American Pie. What we know now as Legally Blonde, and what it began as are two completely different films. It transformed from nonstop zingers that were very adult in nature to this universal story of overcoming adversity by being oneself.
Screenwriter Kirsten Smith corroborated this, stating that the film was initially pitched as “Clueless meets The Paper Chase,“ which sounds like a very different beast from what was released. Comedy is often the quickest film genre to age, and the films Smith described certainly show their age. By contrast, Legally Blonde remains as strong a comedy as it does because it doesn’t necessarily dwell on crude humor. Most importantly, the film has a lot of heart, in part thanks to the supportiveness that Elle shows to her friends and is shown in return. Interestingly though, such elements weren’t added until much later, with fellow screenwriter Karen McCullah adding that changing the tone “was a matter of finessing the details and adding a few characters, like Paulette and her friendship.” Paulette, and her iconic “bend-and-snap” sequence, is at the center of Elle’s self-discovery and willingness to believe in herself, so it’s strange to think that she wasn’t included until much later, or may never have appeared at all.
The decision to move away from “nonstop zingers” and raunchy humor definitely seems like it was a smart decision. It’s hard to imagine a more different-sounding film than what the finished version of Legally Blonde became, and it’s more than likely that film wouldn’t have had the same level of success had it stayed that way. Alongside its hilarity, the film remains incredibly pertinent, especially in the wake of #MeToo movement, which has more than aided Legally Blonde’s longevity. Here’s hoping that the long-awaited sequel will maintain these strengths when Legally Blonde 3 releases in 2022.
Source: The New York Times
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