DIRECTOR Robert Luketic is To Dye
And his first big-budget feature Legally Blonde gives us all a chance
to have more fun!
by quendrith johnson
photography jennifer gregori
If Hollywood's newest "blockbuster director" Robert
Luketic has his way, we're all going blonde on July 9th, National
Blonde Day -- that means you, me, the pooch, and every girl-next-door
across the country-courtesy of Vidal Sassoon for the opening of
Luketic's Reese Witherspoon anthem Legally Blonde.
But right now, in his eclectically-appointed Hollywood home,
dyno-Aussie Luketic is blasting the soundtrack to the movie and
shouting over it, "Diane Warren cornered me at a party of
a friend, and she said, 'Oh, you're Robert Luketic! I've written
this amazing song for you.' The whole CD is fantastic. Don't you
love Superchic[k]? Mya is incredible. We had like five recording
studios running in the Valley. All these amazing people. We had
Mya singing; we would go from studio to studio, and the hair on
my arms would stand up."
Speaking of hair standing up, twenty-something Luketic is electric
when it comes to storytelling. Like with the tests for Legally
Blonde, "Some of the girls in the audience were crying, and
the tests are off the charts. This is who you make movies for."
Or on the topic of movie stars: "I think there are 'true'
movie stars. Tom Cruise is one. I think when people sit in a cinema,
they see someone who can accurately reflect real life. Some directors
may treat that in a heightened kind of way-the star [quality].
But the true actors are able to-completely and convincingly-make
you believe that you are part of the story. Cameron Diaz, when
I saw her in Charlie's Angels dancing in her little panties, I'll
never forget that!"
His innate knack for storytelling is probably why Bob and Harvey
took 11 minutes to sign the guy to a three-picture deal and how,
based on those same 11 minutes, MGM let this first-timer helm
one of the summer's most-promising comedy contenders. The fabled
11-minute countdown to fame is Luketic's girl-make-over mini-epic,
"Titsiana Booberini," about a grocery clerk who finds
redemption on aisle three (the cosmetic area). "She gets
the guy. Suddenly, back home in Sydney, you have to jump on a
plane, then get in a limo. You're on the way to meet Bob and Harvey
[at Miramax]. It's like they've got the drug, and they're giving
it out-you feel like you're in the presence of real movie people."
For Legally Blonde, once he read the script, "only Reese
Witherspoon could play Elle." That would be Elle Woods, the
film's lead character, whose blonde 'do marks her as a lightweight
to both men and women alike-an über-ditz preconception she
overcomes with aplomb by making the grade in the Ivy League. "[Reese]
brings such a presence and intelligence to the part. I'd seen
her in Freeway, Man on the Moon, and Pleasantville. First and
foremost, I was a fan of hers. What sealed it for me was seeing
her in Election; she sort of blew me away. She was so believable,
so real, and I knew that person. She does a great job of immersing
herself." Reese also took about 11 minutes over breakfast
at The Standard to decide that this magnetic short-filmmaker,
with no long form to speak of, had aced the "Hollywood sniff."
Luketic, a wild physical mix of Charlie Chaplinesque timing and
James Dean broodiness, has all the makings of a "Robert Luketic
franchise" future. Plus, he's smart enough not to choke on
stardust or do anything that would land himself in The Tabs. It
makes perfect sense that he is "the son of a diversional
therapist" [which means his mother entertains people who
"My mum is Sicilian, my father is Yugoslavian, an electrician
by trade." Mum and sister are in from Sydney for the premiere
in Westwood and the afterparty at the Armand Hammer Museum. They
are out this afternoon and "will be coming back when their
toes and nails are done, of course."