Elle Woods’ life could have gone in a totally different direction.
Legally Blonde is a bona fide classic: funny and smart with a feminist bent, it solidified Reese Witherspoon’s superstardom, launched a hit Broadway musical off its back, and spawned loving parodies from fervent fans like Ariana Grande. A third film is finally on the way (with a script from Mindy Kaling), but in honor of the 20th anniversary of the original, the cast and crew participated in an oral history for The New York Times.
Jessica Cauffiel and Alanna Ubach, who played Elle’s sorority sisters Margot and Serena (respectively), shared some juicy details about moments that didn’t make the final cut, like the fact that the original script was “very raunchy,” or that Judge Judy was supposed to cameo in Elle’s Harvard video essay. Sadly, “they just couldn’t get Judge Judy on board,” according to Ubach.
Even more interesting was an alternate ending to the film that would have been a MAJOR game changer. Cauffiel revealed:
“The first ending was Elle and Vivian in Hawaii in beach chairs, drinking margaritas and holding hands. The insinuation was either they were best friends or they had gotten together romantically.”
OMG! A sapphic Legally Blonde? That would have really put the film ahead of its time!
For the record, Ubach backed her up on this radical re-imagination of the story, but the screenwriters say they never wrote such an ending for Elle and Vivian. Cauffiel did offer another possible closing scene, though:
“The second or third ending was a musical number on the courtroom steps, and as Elle came out, the judge, jury and everybody in the courtroom broke into song and dance. I’ve been waiting for somebody to leak that for 20 years.”
Screenwriter Karen McCullah shared the more widely known version of Legally Blonde’s alternate ending. She explained:
“We originally cut to a year later, Elle and Vivian were good friends, and Vivian’s now blonde. They had started the Blond Legal Defense Club and were handing out fliers in the quad because that was the ending in Amanda’s manuscript.”
Fellow screenwriter Kristen Smith added:
“One of the versions ended with Emmett and Elle kissing. We screened the movie two or three times, and every time people didn’t want to end it with a kiss. They thought it wasn’t a story about getting a boyfriend, which was really cool to have people say that.”
Clearly, there were plenty of possibilities for Elle’s ending before they landed on the rousing graduation speech, which McCullah, Smith, and producer Marc Platt wrote “in the theater lobby of the test audience” after the Emmett kiss fell flat. That ending turned out to be the perfect one — and as star Jennifer Coolidge pointed out, it was “so good” that “Donald Trump had to steal from it.”
Who knows, though — maybe they’ll revisit a gay Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 3. Anything’s possible, right???
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