“I want the fairytale.” Those were the words uttered by Julia Roberts’ character Vivian Ward 25 years ago in rom-com smash hit Pretty Woman. And (*spoiler alert*) her persistence paid off as viewers watched her wealthy beau Edward Lewis climb a fire escape to sweep her off her feet – only for her to “rescue him right back”.
But it could have been so different. Two and a half decades on, Roberts, Gere, director Garry Marshall and co-stars Laura San Giacomo and Hector Elizondo have reunited on The Today Show where they discussed how the initial ending to the 1990 film was much darker.
Originally called 3,000 and conceived as a dark cautionary tale about drug abuse, it was only once Marshall came on board and the film was sold to Disney that the conclusion was lightened.
“At the end of the original script, Richard’s character threw my character out of the car, threw the money on top of her and drove away and the credits rolled,” recalls Roberts.
The 21-year-old Roberts – then a relative unknown – landed the part in 3,000 only to find herself out of a job when Disney bought the project. After much screen testing, she was eventually re-cast but Gere took some convincing after saying no thank you “a few times”.
“There wasn’t a part, it’s just nothing,” he explains. “The joke was it’s a suit. You could put a suit on a goat and put it out there and it would work. I didn’t get it.”
In fact, it was Roberts who convinced Gere to star alongside after Marshall introduced them at Gere’s apartment, then immediately left so the actors could get to know each other.
When the director called to ask how it was going, it was Gere who picked up the phone. “[Julia] takes a piece of paper and she’s writing something on it and she turns it around and pushes it to me and it says ‘please say yes’. It was so sweet and I just said ‘yes’.”