The initial script, titled “$3,000,” portrayed a significantly darker narrative, depicting Ward as an addict with a tragic ending, illustrating her in a drug-addled state heading to Disneyland after Edward’s dismissal. J F Lawton titled the original script this to signify the amount of money Lewis was going to pay Ward.
The first script concluded bleakly, showing Ward and De Luca heading to Disneyland after Lewis’ rejection, leaving Ward in a drug-induced haze, in stark contrast to the movie’s final feel-good version. It’s safe to say that the choice to have the happy ending is another reason why this movie remains so popular, as more positive outcomes tend to resonate better with audiences.
Prior to Richard Gere’s casting, several actors including John Travolta, Christopher Reeve, Kevin Kline, Denzel Washington and Sylvester Stallone were considered for the pivotal role of Edward Lewis. All of the male actors share similar traits, but Gere was the best choice to really embody the role of Lewis.
Renowned actresses like Daryl Hannah, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly and Meg Ryan were contenders for the role of Vivian before Julia Roberts secured the iconic character. Diane Lane was offered the part but turned down the role because of a scheduling conflict even though the part was extremely sought after by other actresses.
Diane Lane disclosed the script’s initial grittiness, portraying a darker storyline, which underwent a transformation into the audience-beloved upbeat, feel-good movie. Originally, the crazy woman was to be pushed out of a limo for being delusional and believing that the man was in love with her – a plot element that would not have fit in so well.
Director’s original choices
Garry Marshall initially envisioned Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer as the leads, hinting at a potential divergence from the romantic tone that defined the movie. The conversations that went on when trying to cast for the roles defined the script’s direction to go down the romantic route, rather than a darker, grittier one.
Marshall attributed the movie’s success to the undeniable chemistry between Gere and Roberts, elevating it into a timeless romantic classic. Al Pacino did have a reading with Roberts before eventually turning down the role. Gere’s chemistry was an important reason for him gaining the role over the many other similar candidates.
The featured opera, La Traviata, mirrored the movie’s narrative, it illustrates a wealthy man’s affection for a woman involved in nighttime professions, the same as Edward’s. This choice was a subtle one that many viewers only picked up on after watching the movie more than once. It’s a cool way to subtly parallel the events of the movie within which it’s seen.
Julia Roberts, initially cast for “$3,000,” underwent another audition when Disney took over, securing her role in the revamped version of the film. She auditioned twice and was only 21 years old at the time. Now one of the most well-known actors in the world, at the time no one knew who she was. Thus, Pretty Woman became a career-defining film for her.
Roberts convinced Gere to accept the role through a persuasive Post-it note during a phone conversation, ensuring the chemistry crucial for the film’s success. Gere turned down the role several times and Roberts had flown to New York to try and persuade him to take the role – she was extremely dedicated to acting opposite him!
Poster’s body double
Shelley Michelle was Roberts’ body double. She notably appeared in the iconic movie poster, showcasing the stunning red gown. Most people are surprised to find out that the poster is Roberts’ head superimposed on Michelle’s body as this is one of the most significant and memorable images related to the film.
Bathtub scene’s hair mishap
The memorable bathtub scene caused a hair color crisis for Roberts, stripping away the red dye, leading to a frantic late-night hair coloring session. As one of the most iconic scenes within the film, the crew took their time making it perfect but this left Roberts in the bath tub for extended periods of time.
Feet-tickling for laughter
Director Garry Marshall resorted to tickling Roberts’ feet off-camera to capture her genuine laughter during a challenging scene. When she was trying to share an authentic laugh when Vivian was watching reruns of I Love Lucy, this was the only way they could make it happen, and thus make it look brilliantly realistic.
Gere’s piano performance
Richard Gere exhibited his incredible musical prowess and genuinely played the piano in a scene, contributing an authentic touch to his character. Even if fans were aware of this, what they weren’t aware of was that he composed this piece himself as well, now immortalized on the film’s soundtrack.
Car brand refusals
Ferrari and Porsche refused to showcase their cars in the movie due to concerns about linking their prestigious brands with the portrayal of soliciting prostitutes. What this meant was that Edward’s choice of wheels became a sports car from Lotus Cars, now infamous with his style, while the other car brands missed out on the portrayal.
Garry Marshall discreetly slipped into the film as the homeless man guiding Edward, a subtle nod within the scenes. His brief cameo showcased his playful involvement, adding a hidden layer to his directorial contributions and making him a well-loved character as well as director.
As a newcomer, Julia Roberts faced intense nerves during the sex scene, breaking out in hives due to her apprehension. Admitting to ABC News that such scenes were entirely new and daunting for her, each prompt to kiss resulted in hives, reflecting her profound anxiety. While unfortunate, she was able to pull through and give an accomplished performance.
Costume designer’s dialogue
In a memorable moment, Marilyn Vance, the costume designer, delivered the famous line “What’s your dream? Everybody’s got a dream!” within the film, leaving a lasting impact through her unexpected contribution to the dialogue. This scene remains a favorite for many who worked on set, and gives a familial feeling to the production team.
Custom made suits
Every suit worn by Edward was custom-made for Richard Gere, using exclusively sourced fabric from Italy, ensuring a perfect fit. Vance made a special journey to Italy just to find the finest material that would suit the character’s style perfectly. This tailored choice was integral to portraying the wealthiness and class of his character in the story.
Red gown’s origin
The studio initially aimed for Vivian to don a black gown for the opera instead of the iconic red one, as disclosed by Vance to Elle. Despite testing three options, Vance successfully advocated for the red gown, a pivotal decision in defining the film’s style, and is now closely related to audience’s perception and memory of the film.
The $250,000 ruby and diamond necklace, a pivotal prop in the film, demanded round-the-clock security on set. Its remarkable value accentuated its significance in the storyline, necessitating stringent measures to safeguard the precious piece throughout the shooting of Pretty Woman, but this added to Robert’s on set nerves.
Unscripted jewelry box moment
The iconic jewelry box scene wasn’t part of the original plan. Marshall, aiming to prank Roberts, urged Gere to shut the box during a take, evoking her genuine reaction. Surprisingly, this unscripted moment made its way into the final edit, becoming another memorable and amusing scene in Pretty Woman.
Julia Roberts earned a notable $300,000 for her role in Pretty Woman, a pivotal amount for her career’s budding phase. This compensation reflected her rising status in Hollywood, paving the way for her eventual ascent as one of the industry’s most renowned and highly paid actresses.
Robert vs Ryan
Meg Ryan’s decision reshaped Julia Roberts’ trajectory in Hollywood. Turning down Steel Magnolias for When Harry Met Sally, Ryan then passed on Pretty Woman. Roberts eventually scored an Oscar nomination for Steel Magnolias, a pivotal role that elevated her to the forefront of Hollywood’s acting talent and cemented her into the industry.
No sequel pact
The director and stars made a solemn pact, vowing never to venture into a sequel without the collective involvement of all three including Richard Gere, Julia Roberts and director Garry Marshall. This ensured the legacy of their romantic classic remained unadulterated and highly original and authentic.
Reunion for Runaway Bride
In 1999, the trio of Richard Gere, Julia Roberts and director Garry Marshall, reunited for the romantic comedy Runaway Bride. Spearheaded by Gere’s initiative and helmed by Marshall, it marked another endearing collaboration after the success of Pretty Woman. The iconic trio truly made their mark in romantic comedy.
Highest-grossing R-rated disney film
Pretty Woman proudly retains its status as Disney’s top-grossing R-rated release, standing tall among the conglomerate’s diverse cinematic achievements, its enduring charm and popularity is evident in its exceptional box office performance over the years. This is another reason why this film remains an iconic part of history in its industry.
After an extensive four-year journey of development, Pretty Woman: The Musical premiered on Broadway. This stage adaptation beautifully encapsulates the film’s essence, captivating audiences anew with its portrayal of love, transformation and the allure of Hollywood’s romantic tales. It’s another, joyous way that fans were able to connect with the story.
The film’s iconic title draws its inspiration from Roy Orbison’s timeless song Oh, Pretty Woman, a melodic gem etched into the movie’s soundtrack, resonating powerfully with the essence of the story and the portrayal of its lead character, Vivian. Many have their own interpretations of why the film was called this and what it meant for women in Vivian’s work.
Impact on Julia Roberts’ career
Pretty Woman proved to be the pivotal catalyst that launched Julia Roberts into the stratosphere of Hollywood stardom. The film’s monumental success catapulted her career, solidifying her position as one of the industry’s most esteemed and beloved leading actresses. Known for so many different roles, everyone loved her first debut under the spotlight.
Disney’s unexpected success
Despite its $17 million budget, Pretty Woman astonishingly amassed over $460 million globally, defying expectations and establishing itself as a monumental success story in cinematic history, far surpassing initial projections and becoming a cultural phenomenon. Retrospectively, it still remains one of the most successful films of its kind.
Golden Globe nominations
Garnering four Golden Globe nominations, Pretty Woman not only triumphed at the box office but also earned critical acclaim, elevating Julia Roberts to the upper echelons of Hollywood as a bona fide star. Roberts won Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for this role in 1991.
The studio’s initial concerns
Initially hesitant, Disney executives doubted casting the relatively unknown Julia Roberts as Vivian, unsure if she could carry the film. However, her stellar performance shattered these reservations, solidifying her as the heart of the movie’s success. Now, everyone knows how incredibly talented Roberts really is, and some associate her specifically with this role.
Julia Roberts’ age during auditions
Julia Roberts, a mere 21 years old at the time of auditioning for the role of Vivian, showcased her remarkable talent and charisma, securing her place as the vibrant centerpiece of this iconic romantic tale. Many are surprised to find out that she was so young playing this pivotal role, but it’s proof that skill doesn’t come with age.
Richard Gere’s initial rejection
Initially unimpressed, Richard Gere declined the role of Edward several times, deeming it unappealing and uninspired, but later reconsidered and became an integral part of the film’s success. The chemistry that Gere was able to create with Roberts made casting directors want him to play this role and keep asking him to reconsider.
Legacy of Pretty Woman
The movie’s enduring legacy stems from its unconventional narrative and the undeniable chemistry between Gere and Roberts, solidifying its place as a timeless and beloved classic in the realm of romantic cinema. When anyone thinks of a classic in romantic cinema, this is usually the film they think of first.
During filming, Pretty Woman faced significant hurdles. Inclement weather in Los Angeles disrupted schedules, forcing the crew to rewrite scenes and adapt to unexpected conditions, a testament to the team’s resilience in overcoming logistical obstacles during production. Getting every scene perfect of course played a massive role in the success of the film.
Jason Alexander’s role faced potential elimination over concerns about relevance. However, script revisions preserved his character, integrating a humorous subplot that contributed to the film’s dynamic narrative, showcasing the script’s adaptability to incorporate engaging elements. He played Edward’s lawyer and this launched him into Seinfeld.
Despite its eventual acclaim, the movie initially drew criticism. Some critics questioned its romantic portrayal of prostitution, sparking debates about its ethical stance, revealing a dichotomy in audience opinions and prompting discussions around the film’s moral implications. Whilst some skeptics remain, many believe it was groundbreaking in film to portray such a story.
Symbolism in costumes
Vivian’s character evolution is subtly depicted through wardrobe changes. Her outfits transition from revealing, vibrant attire to sophisticated, understated fashion, mirroring her personal growth. The symbolism embedded in her changing fashion choices beautifully reflects her journey of transformation throughout the film and is an important part of the evolution of the overall story.