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DIRECTOR Robert Luketic is To Dye For!
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 are infirm].

"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."

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