Legally Blonde screenwriters and cast members disagree about provocative alternate ending
Actress Jessica Cauffiel says the film nearly ended with bisexual implications, but writer Karen McCullah denies such a scene ever existed.
Not everyone remembers things the same way. As the 20th anniversary of Legally Blonde arrives this month, cast and crew involved in the hit Reese Witherspoon comedy have shared their memories of filming it. Trouble is, not all of them agree, especially on the question of its alternate endings.
In an interview with the The New York Times, actress Jessica Cauffiel, who played Margot, a college friend of Witherspoon's Elle Woods, recalled a lost ending for the movie that would've seen Elle pair up with Vivian (Selma Blair) in an evocative way.
"The first ending was Elle and Vivian in Hawaii in beach chairs, drinking margaritas and holding hands," Cauffiel told the Times. "The insinuation was either they were best friends or they had gotten together romantically."
Sounds like a match made in fan-fiction heaven, right? The only problem is that screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith have no memory of the scene. Both told the Times that they "never wrote that ending."
The Times article seemed to suggest that actress Alanna Ubach confirmed the existence of the Hawaii ending, but Ubach has clarified that she was just deferring to Cauffiel's seniority on the film.
"I was cast later on in the game, and so the ending of Legally Blonde that I read ended up on screen," Ubach tells EW. "When the journalist asked me about the Hawaiian ending, I assumed Jessica Cauffiel was correct because she was cast earlier on."
As other outlets like BuzzFeed picked up the story this week, McCullah tweeted a denial that such an ending ever existed. When one Twitter user cited the Times article as a source, McCullah responded in no uncertain terms: "I wrote the movie. I'm in the picture you just posted. The actress quoted was incorrect."
For more on the story of Legally Blonde's scrapped original ending, look no further than EW's 2018 feature that assembled McCullah, Smith, Blair, and Ubach to offer commentary on the film. In it, McCullah remembered a more rom-com-y ending with Emmett (Luke Wilson), which she confirmed when EW reached out for comment.
"It was after the trial. They kissed in front of the courthouse," McCullah tells EW. "And then we cut to like a year later, where Elle and Vivian are handing out flyers for the Blonde Legal Defense Fund on campus. Vivian had now dyed her hair blond, and they were friends. Along with the ending that's in the movie, those were the only two endings that were shot."
The courthouse ending was shelved in favor of Elle's graduation speech, because test audiences felt like Legally Blonde was more than a rom-com, so a kiss wouldn't be a satisfying enough conclusion. They wanted to see Elle go on to be successful.
McCullah says she doesn't know where Cauffiel's description of the Hawaii ending came from. She insists it was never written or shot. Though the idea might have been tossed around on set between the actors, McCullah doesn't want fans to think they were deprived of representation.
"It made me sad to see people mourning something that never existed, and being sad that it was taken from them," McCullah says, explaining why she corrected outlets and commenters on Twitter. "So I just wanted to clear that up. Don't be sad!"
This article has been updated with new interviews with McCullah and Ubach.