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Seeing Stars: Where the Movies Were Shot (on Location)



2001

The hit 2001 comedy "LEGALLY BLONDE," stars Reese Witherspoon as a young, fashion-conscious blonde who goes to Harvard Law School to impress the boyfriend who jilted her.

It might seem safe to assume that the movie was shot mainly in Cambridge, Mass., at Harvard...

Guess again.

Only a few aerial shots of Cambridge and Boston were used. Almost all of the film was actually shot here in Southern California, around Los Angeles, and especially in nearby Pasadena. They pieced together a number of different locations to create the faux Harvard campus that we see on the screen.

  • Standing in for part of Harvard was USC (the University of Southern California), just south of downtown L.A., at 3535 S Figueroa Street.

    You can see the Bovard Administration Building (on the USC campus) in the background of the scene where 'Emmett' (Luke Wilson) drops off 'Elle'. She then defends dorky student 'David Kidney' (Oz Perkins), by pretending she had dated him, so he can impress a pair of snotty girls who were putting him down.



  • On the other hand, the interior scenes of the Law School classrooms were shot at
    Rose City High School, at 325 S. Oak Knoll Ave., in Pasadena.
  • The city of Pasadena is about five minutes northeast of L.A., best known for its annual Rose Parade. (The school is located just a few blocks west of Caltech, where they shot other scenes for the movie.)



  • But the outdoor quad at Harvard, where 'Elle' retreats after her first humiliating classroom experience (and where she bumps into 'Emmett', who gives her some good advice about surviving the classes) was actually shot on the garden patio of All Saints Church, at 132 N. Euclid Ave., also in Pasadena. (It's located about a mile northwest of Rose City High.)


  • And the law school Library scenes were shot nearby, at the Pasadena Central Library, located at 285 E. Walnut Street, in Pasadena . This stately library was built in 1927, and is located just one block northwest of All Saints Church.)


  • What about those early scenes at the fictitious "C.U.L.A." campus, where 'Elle' was a member of the Delta Nu sorority?

    The opening scenes, where a girl rides a bicycle past a row of frat houses, were shot bext to the CalTech campus, at 1200 E. California Blvd., in Pasadena - along south Hill Avenue, where they transformed three buildings into fictional sororities. For instance, the actual Caltech Alumni Association (at 345 S. Hill Ave.), was transformed into the 'Gamma Theta' sorority house.




  • Delta Nu itself was actually the Villa Sol d'Oro, at Alverno High School, in Sierra Madre, CA. It's the same private girls school where they shot "The Princess Diaries". Both the exterior and interiors of the Villa are seen in the film as the Delta Nu sorority.

    (Thanks to Becky Powell for letting me know about this location.)




  • Early in the movie, 'Elle' and her boyfriend, 'Warner' (Matthew Davis), go out on a date to a romantic, candlelit restaurant, where Elle assumes he plans to ask her to marry him. Instead, he dumps her. That scene was filmed in an actual restaurant, called Il Cielo, located at 9018 Burton Way, in Beverly Hills, about a half mile northeast of Rodeo Drive. (If you want to make reservations for your own engagement dinner, their phone number is (310) 276-9990. According to Zagat, you could expect to pay about $41 per person in 2002.)

  • The "Neptune's Beauty Nook" salon, where 'Elle' teaches her manicurist friend, 'Paulette' (Jennifer Coolidge) the "Bend & Snap" move (to help her land the UPS guy), was supposed to be located near the Harvard campus. In fact, the beauty salon was created inside an empty storefront at 625 S. Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia, CA, a city located about two miles northeast of the Santa Anita racetrack. (At last word, that storefront was now occupied by a large vitamin company called Vitaganza.)


  • In a related scene, 'Elle' aids 'Paulette' in retrieving her pet dog (which she had lost in a custody battle), by helping her confront her crude ex-husband 'Dewey' in a trashy trailer park. That trailer park was created on the site of Fender N More, at 5354 Denny Ave., in North Hollywood. *


  • Then there was that party, where 'Elle' showed up dressed like a Playboy bunny (tail and all), because the girls had told her it was a costume party.
  • In the movie, the party was held at "45 Dunston Street", but in real life they filmed those party scenes at an unusual spot: Heritage Square Museum, a collection of outstanding Victorian L.A. homes and buildings saved from demolition moved from their original locations to a site just south of the  Pasadena Freeway, at 3800 Homer Street, in Los Angeles.

    When you take the Pasadena Freeway north from downtown L.A. to Pasadena, the museum's buildings are clearly available on your right hand side. Take the Avenue 43 exit to Homer Street.

    Most of the filming there was done at the Perry House next door (AKA the Mt. Pleasant House), an 1876 Italianate style Victorian moved to the museum from Mount Pleasant Street in then-fashionable Boyle Heights. In its time, the Perry House (pictured to the right) was one of the finest homes in Los Angeles, and today it is the largest of the buildings preserved at Heritage Square. The Heritage Square museum and its buildings are open to the public, with guided tours on weekends.


  • If you want to see the courtroom where 'Elle' defended 'Brooke' at the murder trial, you'll have to head out to Orange County, and the old Santa Ana Courthouse, located (a few miles southeast of Disneyland) at 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., in Santa Ana, CA.

    Since the county built a modern, new courthouse right next door in Santa Ana, the handsome old courthouse has become a museum, and is often used for filming.

  • They also shot scenes from "Bullwinkle" and "Evolution" at the same courthouse.

    The courthouse/museum is open to the public - when they're not filming something there.

    (It's located about a mile south of the MainPlace mall.) *





  • But if you want the law offices of 'Professor Callahan' (played by Victor Garber, of "Alias" fame), where they discussed the case around a table, and where the professor made a pass at 'Elle', you'll have to head back to downtown L.A., and the Chase Plaza building, at 801 S. Grand Avenue (at the southwest corner of 8th and Grand) in downtown, which is where those office & lobby scenes were filmed.



  • Speaking of the murder trial, the scenes where Elle, Callahan and the others visited the defendant, Brooke, in jail, were filmed at an actual women's prison in east L.A., the Sybil Brand Institute, located at 4500 E. City Terrace Drive. *


  • As part of their investigation into the murder case, 'Elle' and 'Emmett' drive out to "Golden Springs Spa", where they interview 'Mrs. Windham-Vandermark'
    (Raquel Welch), while she sits wrapped in a sauna. After the interview, the couple discuss the case while walking back through the woods.

    Those outdoor scenes were actually shot at Descanso Gardens, a beautiful public garden located at 1418 Descanso Drive, in La Canaña, CA, just six miles northwest of Pasadena, up the 210 Freeway. The building they drive up to is actually the main admission building for the garden.
  • (Recently, they also filmed a garden scene from Tom Cruise's "Minority Report" at Descanso Gardens.)




  • The only major scene in "Legally Blonde" which was not shot in Southern California was the final graduation scene at Harvard. But no, that scene wasn't really shot at Harvard either. Star Reese Witherspoon had to start filming another movie in England ("The Importance of Being Earnest"), so they filmed those final scenes at Dulwich college in London. 


1920's - 1930's - 1940's - 1950's - 1960's - 1970's - 1980's - 1990 - 1991 - 1992
1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004


 

* Locations marked by an asterisk (*) may be located in areas with high crime rates.
Exercise reasonable caution.



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"Legally Blonde" movie stills copyright Metro Goldwyn Mayor, 2001


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