“Sweet Home Alabama” would have been a whole lot different if it went with its original story — and cast.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the rom-com classic starring Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey, and Josh Lucas, Insider spoke to director Andy Tennant who recalled the movie’s rocky beginnings.
“I was given the script; it wasn’t very good. Everyone had passed on it in town,” Tennant said.
But coming off the box office disaster “Anna and the King” in 1999, Tennant said he found himself in “director jail” so when “Sweet Home Alabama” came back around, he agreed to take it on. But he still wasn’t into the script.
“The script was just as bad,” Tennant said. “I think the fiancé of Reese’s character was a complete tool and the guy down South was a hunky, handsome guy. I think he was a stock-car driver.”
Tennant said he and his writing partner Rick Parks came up with an idea: “Why don’t we do a love triangle where the love choices are between a great guy and the right guy?”
The duo completely rewrote the script, but they ran into a problem. Charlize Theron was attached to play the lead in the movie and didn’t like what they came up with.
At the time the movie was being developed in the late 1990s/early 2000s, Theron was just beginning to become a star thanks to movies like “The Devil’s Advocate,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Yards,” and “Sweet November.”
“Charlize and her production company were the original principals behind the project,” Tennant said. “They were developing it for Charlize to star. When I did the rewrite with Rick, I don’t think she was a fan and so everybody parted ways.”
But thanks to “Legally Blonde,” Tennant’s movie quickly found its new lead.
“‘Legally Blonde’ came out and I got a call from the studio and they were like, ‘What do you think of Reese Witherspoon?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve known her since she was 15. She would be great.'”
Tennant had made a TV movie with Witherspoon when she was a teen and the two had stayed in touch ever since.
“I had lunch with her not that long before I turned in the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ script,” he recalled. “We were just catching up and I asked, ‘What have you been up to?’ And she said, ‘I made this movie nobody is going to see. It’s silly but it was really fun to make.’ And that turned out to be ‘Legally Blonde.’ And she asked me what I was doing, and I was like, ‘We just wrote a movie, but I don’t know if it’s ever going to get made.'”
When “Legally Blonde” opened in 2001, it became a box office hit and proved Witherspoon was a star. She was quickly signed to play the lead in “Sweet Home Alabama.”
“The only reason ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ was made was because of ‘Legally Blonde,'” Tennant said.
Source : Insider