Julia Roberts Was Not the Original Choice for the Lead in "Pretty Woman" | It Turned Out to Be Her Most Iconic Role

Julia Roberts Was Not the Original Choice for the Lead in "Pretty Woman" | It Turned Out to Be Her Most Iconic Role

The original script was also a lot darker until Disney stepped in and made it a rom-com.

The iconic 1990 film, Pretty Woman, is celebrating 31 years since its release. It's no surprise that Julia Roberts' role as Vivian, a sex worker who falls in love with a rich businessman (and he with her) is one of her most memorable roles. Gary Marshall directed the movie and was known as the creator of iconic TV shows such as Happy Days and Mork & Mindy and films like Beaches and The Princess Diaries. The legendary director passed away in 2016 at age 81 of complications from pneumonia following a stroke. “To know Garry Marshall was to love him,” Roberts told PEOPLE at the time. “And I was luckier than most to have loved him for my entire adult life and luckier still to have been loved by him because his love was unconditional, inexhaustible and magical.”


Not many people may know this but the role of Vivian was originally planned to be given to someone else! An 80's megastar was called to fill in the movie's leading lady's shoes. Molly Ringwald reportedly turned down the legendary role in Pretty Woman. Ringwald is best known for her roles in John Hughes’ iconic films like Pretty in Pink to The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.


The actress apparently had looked at an early script for the film and declined to be a part of it. In a Reddit AMA, the actress said that she doesn't regret it. According to Cheat Sheet, when one Reddit user asked, “Is it true you were offered to be the Pretty Woman but declined, so Julia Roberts took the part?” She replied, “I think I saw an early draft, and it was called $3,000. I don’t specifically remember turning it down. The script was okay, but I gotta say, Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that.”


The movie was indeed first going to be called $3,000, which was supposed to be the price of one night with Vivian. The NY Post reports that Disney offered Marshall a grittier script to lighten up where the story was about an “older, on-her-last-dime prostitute” and “tough-as-nails businessman.” Marshall cast Roberts who was only 20 years old at the time as Vivian while Richard Gere played the “tough” businessman. Surely, soon enough, the title was changed to Pretty Woman and the storyline got softer as well. The first thing Roberts said when she met was Marshall was “I won’t be naked.” Marshall agreed to say, “I’m going to do everything to make you feel comfortable.” The original character was a lot darker as well. According to PEOPLE, Vivian was addicted to cocaine in the first script. But it was later decided that her career choice already provided the movie with enough edge.


Patricia Arquette and Roberts sat down with Variety for an interview in 2019 where Arquette also revealed that she had auditioned for the film. "One of my early auditions was for a movie called $3,000. Most people don’t know that 3,000 was the original Pretty Woman script. And the ending was really heavy." "Threw her out of the car, threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley," added Roberts. "Right. So it really read like a gritty art movie. When you first read it, it was that incarnation," said Arquette. Roberts elaborated, "I got the part in 3,000. I love that you’re asking me this question, but I had no business being in a movie like that. This small movie company folded over the weekend, and by Monday, I didn’t have a job. There was one producer that stayed with the script, and it went to Disney. I thought, 'Went to Disney? Are they going to animate it?' Garry Marshall came on, and because he’s a great human being, he felt it would only be fair to meet me, since I had this job for three days and lost it. And they changed the whole thing. And it became more something that is in my wheelhouse." We can't even imagine anyone being cast as the vivacious Vivian in the rom-com classic, can you?








Cover image source: IMDb movie stills

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