Legally Blonde (2001)Directed by Robert LuketicShown: Reese Witherspoon
Credit: MGM/Photofest

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As the president of her sorority, Elle Woods had to be a source of crucial life wisdom. For example, she was the person you’d ask about low-viscosity rayon or proper hair care for, say, a perm. And she was certainly the person you’d go to when you needed to get a man’s attention, at which point she’d introduce you to the bend and snap.

Legally Blonde fans remember the scene: Elle teaches her manicurist, Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), the bend and snap as a way to get the cute UPS guy’s attention. And in a matter of moments, what begins as a simple woman-to-woman tutorial turns into a salon-wide musical number.

“[Producer] Marc [Platt] wanted a B plot for Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge),” Legally Blonde co-writer Karen McCullah tells EW. “At first we were like, ‘Should the store be robbed?'” Co-writer Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith adds, “I think we spent a week or two trying to figure out what the B plot and this big set piece should be. There were crime plots. We were pitching scene after scene and it all felt very tonally weird.”

And then McCullah, sitting at a bar in Los Angeles, posed a simple question: “What if Elle shows [Paulette] a move so she can get the UPS guy?” Suddenly, Smith was on her feet demonstrating what would become the bend and snap. And no, it was not something Smith had ever done before. As Smith puts it, “It was a spontaneous invention. It was a completely drunken moment in a bar.” As for how it became a big musical number, both writers give full credit to director Robert Luketic.

In the end, the scene sparked a movement … at least in Italy. “It became a dance move in gay discos in Italy,” McCullah says. “Jennifer Coolidge was over there shortly after the movie and said everyone was doing it on the dance floor.”

Can you blame them? It does work every time.

Legally Blonde
  • Movie
  • 95 minutes