Legally Blonde’s Empowering Ending Almost Never Happened

Photo: Tracy Bennett/MGM/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
When we think of classic girls night in movie Legally Blonde, a few key moments come to mind. One of which, is the graduation scene. After everything that Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) has accomplished, it seems like there could be no other way to end things. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the movie’s co-writers revealed that the graduation scene almost never happened.
According to co-writer Karen McCullah, the original ending was at the courthouse right after the trial. The final scene of Legally Blonde originally went down like this: after winning the case as a first year law student, everyone is congratulating Elle. Emmett (Luke Wilson) kisses her, then they cut to one year in the future with Elle and Vivian handing out pamphlets for their new Blonde Legal Defense Fund. While we love that she started her own defense fund, something about this ending doesn’t feel quite right. Test screening audiences agreed.
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McCullah and fellow co-writer Kirsten Smith began to rethink things. The original ending was a classic rom-com set up, but Legally Blonde is so much more than a rom-com. It is about a woman overcoming stereotypes about her gender – and her hair color – to show that underestimating someone is never a good idea. “They knew that this was not a movie about a girl getting a guy,” explained Smith.
After the test screening, McCullah and Smith sat down with the film’s director Robert Luketic, producer Marc Platt, and the rest of the writers while still in the lobby of the movie theater. The ending came together quickly; however, making the rewrite a reality proved more difficult. Both Reese Witherspoon and Luke Wilson had changed their hair for their next movies, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Royal Tenenbaums, respectively. Each had to wear wigs, but the writers knew that the new ending was worth it, especially for Elle. “This to me was the most important part, so when we decided to redo the ending I’m like, ‘She still needs to be able to tell Warner off,'” shared McCullah.
After a spur of the moment rewrite and some creative re-shoots, we now have the ending that makes the film what it is: a story about a badass woman who may have followed her ex to law school, but found herself and her dream career in the process.
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