It's hard to imagine anyone playing Elle Woods other than Reese Witherspoon. The Legally Blonde role is one of the performances that put the eventual Oscar winner on the map, after all. Apparently, Christina Applegate shied away from the opportunity to play the role, and though it sounds like she has mixed feelings about passing on the part, she also had a specific reason. If you're familiar with her Married... With Children character, you may be able to guess why...
Christina Applegate spoke on the subject with ETOnline, and from what the Vacation star says, she was afraid of repeating herself after Married... With Children.
The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, Married [With Children], and it was a blonde who in that first script is dimwitted but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don’t remember. But I was scared. I got scared of, kind of repeating myself.
Applegate added, with a smile, that it was a stupid move. But she went on to express support for Reese Witherspoon, who went on to take the memorable role:
Reese deserved that. She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that’s her life. That’s her path.
As we said, it's really hard to picture anyone else playing the role of Elle Woods. There's so much of Reese Witherspoon's charm, confidence and humor in the character. Thinking of Applegate in the part conjures the image of a sorority version of Kelly Bundy, and then it just seems like a very different movie. If Applegate had concerns about repeating herself or being typecast, maybe she made the right choice. She's certainly proven she's capable of playing different kinds of comedic roles.
Beyond that, maybe it's just too hard to picture Christina Applegate as the ditzy blonde that isn't Kelly Bundy. Applegate's character evolved throughout the course of Married... With Children, perhaps much more than any other character in the Fox series. She started out sarcastic and rude, then seemed to get ditzier and ditzier as the series progressed throughout its eleven-season run.
We won't argue with Christina Applegate's reasoning for wanting to steer clear of this kind of character after Married... With Children wrapped up, but if we're comparing Kelly Bundy to Elle Woods, it seems necessary to point out that Witherspoon's character may have started out superficial and a bit clueless, but she was always smart. She just applied that intelligence to sorority activities and her undergrad education in fashion merchandising. Kelly Bundy, on the other hand, would've needed a bit more than a cram-session to pass the LSATS. But if she and Elle Woods had one thing in common, besides their blonde locks, it's a signature move. For Elle Woods, it was the Bend and Snap. For Kelly, it was the Bundy Bounce.
After Married... With Children wrapped up in 1997, Christina Applegate went on to share screen time with Legally Blonde's Selma Blair in The Sweetest Thing in 2002. And she shared a screen-sister in common with Reese Witherspoon when she played Rachel's sister, Amy, in Friends. (Witherspoon played Rachel's other sister, Jill). Her feature credits also include Hall Pass, Going the Distance, and of course, she memorably played the role of Veronica Corningstone in Anchorman (and the sequel). Most recently she's playing Debbie Griswold in Vacation, which arrives in theaters this weekend.