Elle Woods

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Elle Woods
Elle Woods.jpg
First appearanceLegally Blonde (2001)
Created byAmanda Brown
Portrayed byReese Witherspoon
In-universe information
FamilyMr. Woods (father)
Mrs. Woods (mother)
SpouseEmmett Richmond (Emmett Forrest in musical adaptation)
Significant otherWarner Huntington III (ex-boyfriend)

Elle Woods is the protagonist of Amanda Brown's 2001 novel Legally Blonde and the 2001 film of the same name as well as the 2003 sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde. Woods is also the protagonist of the 2007 Broadway adaptation of the movie.

In pop culture[edit]

Elle Woods first appeared as the protagonist of Legally Blonde, a novel by Amanda Brown.[1] Later, Woods was portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the films Legally Blonde (2001) and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003).[2][3] The character was then portrayed in a Broadway musical adaptation of the first film, Legally Blonde - The Musical. Elle Woods is also the basis of a series of young adult fiction novels by Natalie Standiford.[4][5] The character is mentioned but not seen in a 2009 direct-to-video sequel, Legally Blondes, which portrays the adventures of her twin British cousins.[6] In 2018 Ariana Grande referenced Elle in several scenes of her "Thank U, Next" music video.[7]

Legally Blonde films[edit]

Entertainment Weekly put Elle Woods on its end-of-the-decade "best-of" list, saying, "She's blonde, bubbly and carries a tiny Chihuahua. But despite the inevitable Paris Hilton comparisons, Reese Witherspoon's Legally Blonde dynamo managed to be taken seriously. Case closed!"[8]

Broadway adaptation[edit]

Woods has been portrayed by eleven different actresses in different stagings of Legally Blonde - The Musical: Gabby Cinque, Olivia Mezzerina, ,[9] Bailey Hanks,[10] Sayaka Kanda, Barbara Obermeier and in the West End by Sheridan Smith (who was later replaced by her Legally Blonde co-star Susan McFadden). From July 2011 Carley Stenson took over the role of Elle Woods with Susan McFadden leaving the show.

production Actress Image
Original Broadway Cast Laura Bell Bundy Laurabundy.jpg
Original First U.S. Tour Cast Becky Gulsvig Becky Gulsvig.jpg
Original Second National U.S. Tour Cast

(Non-Equity Tour Cast)

Nikki Bohne
Original London Cast Sheridan Smith/Susan McFadden/Carley Stenson
Original UK Tour Cast Faye Brookes
2nd UK Tour Cast Lucie Jones Lucie Jones Red Carpet1 Kyiv 2017.jpg
Netherlands Kim-Lian Kim-lian-der-meij-1312212316.jpg
Germany Barbara Obermeier
South Korea Jessica Jung/Luna Park/Jeong Eun-ji


In the film, Legally Blonde, Elle Woods is a sorority sister living at the Delta Nu House at the fictional California University Los Angeles (CULA) (UCLA in the musical) where she studies in Fashion Merchandising and maintains a 4.0 GPA. Woods' boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, the son of a U.S. congressman, breaks up with her the night she expects him to propose, claiming that he needs "to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn." Warner is bound for Harvard Law School, and Woods becomes determined to gain admittance to the school to win him back. Once at Harvard, Woods learns that Warner has a new fiancée, Vivian Kensington, who is a member of the same country club as Warner's family. Woods is able to exonerate a sorority sister accused of murder, and decides she does not need Warner. In the film's conclusion, Woods gives the commencement address to the law school class after proving herself and earning the respect of her peers, and beginning a relationship with Emmett Richmond.[11]

In the sequel to the original film, Elle is in the middle of planning her wedding while in line for a promotion at work. She decides to track down the birth mother of her beloved dog, Bruiser, and discovers that she is being used for animal testing. After getting fired for trying to bring up the testing facility, Elle goes to work on Capitol Hill, seeking to advance animal rights. She begins the film with naïve expectations about the motivations of members of Congress, and although these expectations are dashed, she perseveres and succeeds in the passage of the desired animal rights legislation. At the end of the movie, she marries Emmett in Washington, D.C., and is seen looking at the White House when Emmett asks her where she wants to live.


  1. ^ "Blonde Ambition". Stanford Magazine. September 2001. Retrieved March 24, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Harwood, Erika (March 22, 2017). "Reese Witherspoon Loves Channeling Elle Woods". Vanities. Retrieved 2017-11-07.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Elle Woods (Character)". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  4. ^ "Juvenile Series and Sequels Title: Elle Woods". Mid-Continent Public Library. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  5. ^ "Legally Elle Woods". fictfact.com.
  6. ^ Shager, Nick (January 18, 2017). "Reese Witherspoon Once Again Says She's Open to Making a 'Legally Blonde 3'". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved 2017-11-07.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Levine, Daniel S. (December 2, 2018). "Reese Witherspoon Reacts to Ariana Grande's Elle Woods Impression in 'Thank U, Next'". popculture.com.
  8. ^ "100 greatest movies, TV shows, and more". EW.com. December 4, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben (2007-04-30). "Legally Blonde - Review - Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam (October 19, 2008). "Case Closed: Legally Blonde Ends Broadway Run Oct. 19". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-11-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]