Elle Woods is a character and the protagonist of Amanda Brown's novel Legally Blonde and the film of the same name. She was portrayed in two films by Reese Witherspoon. In a Broadway theatre adaptation of the first film, Legally Blonde - The Musical, Woods has been portrayed by eight different actresses in different stagings of the show. They were Gabby Cinque, Olivia Mezzerina, Laura Bell Bundy, Bailey Hanks, Becky Gulsvig, Jessica Jung, Nikki Bohne, Luna Park, Jung Eun-ji, and in the West End by Sheridan Smith OBE (who was later to be replaced by her Legally Blonde co-star Susan McFadden). From 11th July 2011 Carley Stenson took over the role of Elle Woods with Susan McFadden leaving the show.
Entertainment Weekly put Elle Woods on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "She's blond, 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!"
The character is mentioned, but not seen in a later direct-to-video sequel, Legally Blondes, which portrays the adventures of her two British cousins.
Elle is an attractive blonde sorority girl from California. She attends Harvard Law School in an effort to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend Warner who had ended the relationship before heading there himself. Although superficially nothing more than the stereotypical 'dumb blonde', she demonstrates a surprising intellect even before going to Harvard - albeit mainly focused on fashion-related details - and also shows genuine concern and care for others. She eventually earns her Juris Doctor, gains the respect of her peers, and becomes engaged to Emmett, whom she met on her first day of law school. 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 naive 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 she is asked where she wants to live.
- Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84