HOW many blondes does it take to change Harvard Law School? Only one, if she's as fabulous as Elle Woods.

Reese Witherspoon stars as the golden-haired heroine in the comedy Legally Blonde.

Her character is super popular, president of her sorority, a beauty contest runner-up and totally devoted to her boyfriend Warner.

But when he dumps her for being "too blonde" and not "serious" enough for his future political career, Elle is devastated.

Determined not to give up, she vows to prove she can be what he wants - by attending Harvard Law School.

At first she finds the going tough - a charming personality and pink Prada bag won't get you far in the navy blue blazer world of law school.

But she soon becomes one of the best in her class, gets picked for a coveted intern spot at a law firm and is soon assisting the defence in a sensational murder trial.

One by one, she wins the respect of her peers, then ends up defending the client by herself in the ultimate exhibition of girl power.

Producer Marc Platt first fell madly in love with the character of Elle Woods when an unpublished novel manuscript by Amanda Brown crossed his desk.

Brown, a blonde lawyer herself, attended Stanford Law School and found it was the perfect place to make an anthropological study of the 'law student'.

"What I loved about this story is that it's hilarious, it's sexy and, at the same time, it's empowering," says Platt.

"The world looks at Elle and sees someone who is blonde and beautiful but nothing more.

Elle, on the other hand, doesn' t judge herself or anybody else.

She thinks the world's great, she's great, everyone's great and nothing can change that.

She's truly an irrepressible modern heroine."

The heart, soul and hair colour of Legally Blonde all rest on its guileless lead heroine Elle.

When it came to casting, there was only one choice for the role: Reese Witherspoon.

Witherspoon quickly developed a soft spot for her character, saying: "What I love about this story is that it really questions your perceptions.

It's so easy to jump to conclusions about people in life, and I was really interested in exploring the difference between how a person looks externally and who they really are inside."

The actress adds: "I think this is really an empowering movie.

Everybody has a moment in their life when they stop believing in themselves, but Elle proves with her own special spirit that anyone can overcome their fears and succeed on their own terms, whatever those might be.

"Some people might succeed because they know about Plato and Socrates, and other people succeed because they know about Porsches and Clinique.

The point is to use what you have and believe in yourself."