‘Legally Blonde’ Oral History: From Raunchy Script to Feminist Classic

The cast and crew say the film has lived on because it’s become more relatable over time.

SMITH It was the right feminist message and character to land when it did. It wears its desires on its sleeve: the contradiction [that] you can be a woman who’s fighting to be heard with a very clear point of view, who’s very strong and smart and also funny, fun and interested in different things, fashion and the law.

DAVIS I’m certainly biased, and this might sound hyperbolic, but I think “Legally Blonde” was one of the last great films in the sense that we shot it on 35 millimeter. It really captured the spirit, the grandeur and the magic of Hollywood. Reese is such a magnetic superstar, and it was a showpiece for her. I think we really captured lightning in a bottle.

LARTER You see this undeniable force, and that [Elle] never lets her self-doubt take her down. When you watch a movie like this, you believe in yourself a little bit more.

BASIL [The movie] is more relevant in a deeper way now than ever before. Women, equal pay and the #MeToo movement, so much has come around in the last 20 years that did not exist when these girls were creating this movie.

Fans constantly remind the cast and crew how the movie affected them.

COOLIDGE People come up to [Reese] and say, “I went to law school because of you.” People tell me that, too. I don’t think all these people could be lying: I think people really got inspired by that story.

DAVIS My friend set me up on a blind date once, and they were like, “You’ll love her, She’s cool. She’s a lawyer.” We had a beer, and we hit it off. I didn’t really talk too much about my story of being an actor. By the end of the night, we started making out. Right in the middle she pulls away and says, “I have to tell you something: ‘Legally Blonde’ is my favorite movie, and that’s why I became a lawyer. I wanted to tell you that all night long.”

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