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Reese Witherspoon reflects on 'Legally Blonde' as it turns 20

Plus, get behind-the-scenes details of the making of the movie.

July 13, 2021, 7:19 PM

Twenty years ago Tuesday, the beloved comedy "Legally Blonde" hit theaters, with Reese Witherspoon winning over audiences as Elle Woods, a sorority girl seeking to overcome stereotypes while earning a law degree.

The actress reflected on the movie that "literally changed my life" in an Instagram post, adding that playing Elle Woods was "the role of a lifetime."

"I'm so honored to have been a part of sharing her story with you all," she wrote. "Every meme, graduation cap, musical number, Halloween costume and bend & snap has brought me so much JOY over these past two decades! I wonder... what will Elle do next?"

Audiences may soon find out, as a third installment is currently in the works and slated for a 2022 release.

In honor of the film’s big anniversary, here are five fascinating facts about its production:

1. The film is based on a true story. The movie is based on a novel by the same name, and the author, Amanda Brown, drew from her real-life experiences at Stanford Law School while writing it.

2. Reese Witherspoon almost didn’t get the lead role. Christina Applegate told "Entertainment Tonight" that she'd been sent the script but turned down the part, stating that she didn’t want to play another stereotypical blonde character. “What a stupid move that was, right?” she joked. Still, she added, "Reese deserved that. She did a much better job than I ever could!"

3. The iconic “bend and snap” moment was created during a night out. While at a bar in Los Angeles trying to come up with a scene for Jennifer Coolidge’s character, Paulette, lead writer Karen McCullah asked co-writer Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, “What if Elle shows [Paulette] a move so she can get the UPS guy?” Smith then spontaneously came up with what we know now as the “bend and snap," according to an interview they did with Entertainment Weekly.

4. Legally Blonde made its way to the theater. There were Broadway and West End musicals based on the film. Its London West end production won several awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for best musical.

5. The movie almost had a very different ending. The current version ends with Elle delivering a speech at her Harvard graduation, but the first cut actually ended at the courthouse, McCullah reportedly said. At first, Elle's final scenes involve her sharing a kiss with Emmett (Luke Wilson) and opening her own legal defense club alongside a newly blonde Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair). However, test audiences didn't care for it. "It was just kind of a weak ending," she says. "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."