Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, plus canine fashion accessory

Reese Witherspoon:
bright, blonde and talented and don’t you forget it, warns John Millar

From Film Review Nov 2001

Ms Witherspoon was in danger of becoming one of America’s best kept screen secrets… a superbly talented actress, admired by film fans, but almost unknown to the mainstream audience. But that was then. Now the 25-year-old, who proved her star quality and versatility in the Oliver Stone produced quirky drama Freeway, the innovative Pleasantville, Cruel Intentions (the teen version of Dangerous Liaisons), and the superb Election – is hot.

She’s on the kind of roll that would incline you to bet that her next film, Oliver Parker’s version of The Importance Of Being Earnest, which she filmed here in Britain with Judi Dench and Rupert Everett, will be a success.

And all of this is down to the fact that this summer she starred in one of America’s surprise hits, Legally Blonde (a sequel is already planned) in which she played a well-heeled student who is dumped by her nakedly ambitious boyfriend because she’s ‘too blonde’ for his dreams of a career in politics.

So when the boyfriend goes to Harvard to study law, she also enrols, just to prove that she can spread her wings and become a smart legal eagle. When Witherspoon meets Film Review in LA, she explains why she had grabbed this opportunity to star in this appearances-can-be-deceptive comedy. “It is a certain American stereotype that blondes are not so smart, so this dispels all those ideas,” she says.

Reese also reckons that at the centre of the appeal of Legally Blonde is the fact that it is more than a fish-out-of-water comedy. “I think this is really an empowering movie,” says the actress. “Everybody has a moment in their life when they stop believing in themselves. But Elle proves with her own special spirit that anyone can overcome their fears and succeed on their own terms.

“Some people might succeed because they know about Plato and Socrates, other people succeed because they know about Porsches and Clinique! The point is to use what you have and believe in yourself.”

Before facing the cameras as Elle Woods, a Valley Girl whose life is filled with thoughts of manicures and hair-dos and whose wardrobe can’t contain enough pink outfits, she went around Beverly Hills watching these sort of girls in action.

“I talked with a lot of girls,” says Reese, who also took time to go onto a law school campus in order to embrace that culture. “I went there for a few days and saw how the law students acted and how they behaved.”

About the only thing that Reese Witherspoon has in common with Elle Woods is that the star admits, with a gleaming smile, that she does like to shop. But she draws the line at the outrageous outfits favoured by her Legally Blonde character. “I think that Elle is a little bit more flamboyant than I am,” says Reese when Film Review wonders whether she would actually wear anything from her film wardrobe. “So that is a tactful no."

Film Review Oct 2001 issueFor more features, read on in #611 of Film Review...

Legally Blonde is released on October 26 and reviewed in this issue

• Visit the official UK site and celebrate the world of Blondeness

• Images copyright: 20th Century Fox / MGM Studios.
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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