The revenge of a blondeThe writers and stars of say the movie could have been a much hotter movie, with a Judge Judy cameo and stars like Chloë Sevigny and Paul Bettany in lead roles.
For a recent New York Times oral history, various cast and crew spoke about the film, which not only has remained relevant 20 years after its release, but continues to be praised for its messages of empowering women. The various interviews revealed previously unknown details about the film’s early scripts, cast and production, including the film. American pie-like the first draft.
According to writer Kirsten Smith, they originally presented the film as “Distraught meets The paper hunt,”The 1973 comedy-drama about a freshman Harvard law student and a demanding professor. But unlike the story of breaking stereotypes and being who you are that got to the screen, Jessica Cauffiel – who played Elle’s friend Margot – says the film has undergone a big transformation, the first scenario being both “nervous” and “scorching”. “
“The first script was very scorching, to be honest, in the vein of American pie, she told the Time. “He went from non-stop zingers of a very adult nature to this universal story of overcoming adversity by being yourself.”
Calling the previous and final versions “two completely different films,” Cauffiel said that at the time of the premiere, some still believed the film’s more explicit humor – which included a cunnilingus joke – had always succeeded.
“Originally there was a line when [her friend] Serena says, “What’s the one thing that always makes us feel better, no matter what?” And I say, ‘Cunnilingus.’ It was actually a line in the movie. We thought when we went to the premiere that it was still this edgy, steamy montage.
Co-writer Karen McCullah said the murder trial, which is a key part of Elle’s plot to prove herself, was also not featured in previous scripts. “It wasn’t a murder trial, and she ended up with a teacher, so we made some changes,” she said.
What hasn’t changed from the start, according to writer Smith and casting director Joseph Middleton, is the preference to have Reese Witherspoon in the lead role, with Middleton saying he “believed so strongly in her ”after her performances in Man in the moon and A faraway place.
“[Reese] was the first person to read the script. It seemed like she was right on the edge [of fame]. We didn’t send it to any other actor, ”she said.
But more names were added, and not just for the role of the perky and passionate Elle. Britney Spears was viewed casually, while McCullah recalled Christina Applegate saying “something about how she had turned down “Elle’s part.
Jennifer Coolidge, who plays the film’s beloved but insecure manicurist and Elle’s confidante Paulette, told the Time that “Courtney Love was up for [my] role ”, and that she heard that Kathy Najimy was also ready for her defining role. Perhaps more surprisingly, the names of Chloë Sevigny and Paul Bettany were also up for key roles.
Sevigny was being considered for Vivian, Elle’s rival law student and his ex-Warner’s new girlfriend. “I remember talking about playing Chloë Sevigny to play Vivian,” Smith said. “It didn’t work and we ended up with our Queen Selma Blair.”
Bettany, according to casting director Middleton, was ready for the law professor’s assistant and Elle’s love interest, Emmett Richmond. The role eventually went to Luke Wilson, who McCullah revealed was “still referred to as” the character of Luke Wilson “when we were writing it.”
“I loved Paul Bettany for the role of Luke, but he was British and they felt like he had to be a real American,” Middleton said.
Oral history has uncovered another The revenge of a blonde hopeful: Judge Judy. With Alanna Ubach, the actress who played one of Elle’s best friends, Serena, calling the TV judge an “incredible icon that she absolutely adores”, writers Smith and McCullah hoped to have scenes of She, Serena and Margot “pursuing Judge Judy everywhere she records her show and they say, “Judge Judy! Judge Judy! Can we get an autograph? “
“They cut that scene. They just couldn’t get Judge Judy involved, ”Ubach said. “And I thought, ‘Reese, what if Ryan Phillippe was playing a very famous judge who had his own show, and we have it on the billboards.’ She said, ‘Alanna, no one is going to believe my husband is a judge. Are you kidding me?'”
As for that famous bend and snap scene, choreographer Toni Basil was behind it, to the lingering disbelief of some. “I choreographed iconic things for David Bowie and Tina Turner. People interview me and they say, ‘Did you’ bend and snap ‘?’ “, did she say. “It’s like, what, a one-and-a-half-minute act in the movie?” But it was an integral part.
This integral part was something Coolidge and others said she had to be convinced to do.
“One day I said to [Basil], ‘I’m not Elle, I’m the other character, Paulette, and I wouldn’t be really good at’ bending and snapping ‘him. It’s not who I am. And Toni said, ‘Jennifer, you have to learn this dance number and do your best because even if you try to do your best, you will always be the worst dancer.’ It was a very depressing moment. But she was right.