Little Known Trivia About ‘Pretty Woman’ That Will Steal Your Heart
“She walked off the street, into his life and stole his heart,” read the tagline of Pretty Woman. This story was a new spin on the fairytale Cinderella, creating a movie star of leading lady, Julia Roberts, and reigniting the career of leading man, Richard Gere. This romantic comedy has gone down in history as one of the most beloved and quoted movies of all time. Go behind the scenes of this iconic Hollywood classic.
A Completely Different Script
Although Pretty Woman is now known as the quintessential romantic comedy, it was originally written to be a gritty drama about the dangers of drugs and prostitution. In the script, Vivian was a drug addict and Edward paid $3,000 to help her quit drugs and spend the week with him.
Unfortunately, after the week Edward tires of her addiction and leaves Vivian stranded on the side of the road. At the end of the movie, Vivian’s friend Kat dies of an overdose and she is left alone. This script was bleak and dark. Audiences everywhere are grateful it was transformed!
A Confusing Title
The price that Vivian charged for the week, could have been the title of the classic movie audiences adore. 3,000 was the title of the drama that the original script called for. Vivian charged Edward $3,000 for a week of her companionship, but the title diminished the movie’s central theme of love.
During the movie testing, the title 3,000 confused the audience, especially since the movie was now the romantic comedy that we all know and love. Once Disney acquired the script, the title was changed to Pretty Woman, focusing on the fairy tale and actress audiences rooted for.
The Original Vivian
Although Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a star, the role was originally offered to Molly Ringwald. Ms. Ringwald was a huge success at the box office thanks to Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink, and the studios wanted a big name for the role of Vivian Ward. Ringwald fit the bill, but the role wasn’t meant to be.
Once Ringwald saw the first version of the 3,000 script, she decided to pass on the gritty drama. Thankfully, she has stated that “Julia Roberts is what makes the movie. It was her part,” and says she has no regrets about passing on the role.
The Road To Julia
If scheduling conflicts hadn’t happened, Diane Lane would have starred as Vivian Ward. Lane went through costume fittings and worked on the script, but had to walk away from the role once she was unable to make her schedule work.
Lane wasn’t the only actress being pursued by producers. Daryl Hannah passed on the original script, due to the dark material that she felt was “degrading to women”. Another big star at the time, Michelle Pfeiffer, turned down the role due to the grittiness of the script. It was only after the script was re-written that you see the movie in a lighter tone.
A Link To Disney
Although Pretty Woman is an R-rated adult romantic comedy, the production company behind it happens to the family-friendly studio, Disney. The original screenplay for 3,000 was purchased by Disney and subsequently produced by Touchstone Pictures, the mature film banner of the Disney production house.
Disney President Jeffery Katzenberg insisted the film be re-written as a romantic comedy and love story to make the movie have a more universal appeal. Even though the film was produced under the Touchstone Pictures banner, it is still considered a Disney film to this day. The film was retooled and given the new modern-day fairy tale take, thanks to the magical world of Disney!
Saved By Gary Marshall
Before being cast to play Vivian Ward, Julia Roberts was an up and coming actress, who was only known for her role in Mystic Pizza. Landing the lead of Vivian was a huge breakthrough for the actress, although the excitement was short-lived and she was let go after a week.
Once the original movie was sold to Disney, the producers wanted a chance to cast a more well-known actress in the role of Vivian. It was only when Gary Marshall demanded that Roberts be able to keep her role that Julia was able to secure her place in cinematic history.
Casting The Prince
Richard Gere revived his career with his magnetic performance as Richard Lewis. It is impossible to imagine anyone else in the role that Gere made his own. So, it is even harder to believe that Gere almost passed on the role!
The role of Edward was notoriously hard to cast since most actors (including Gere) found the role boring and bleak. Gere especially felt that the role of Edward was nothing more than a stiff executive, and lacked character development. It was only after a special meeting that Gere was convinced to take on the role. What happened at this meeting?
Chemistry In New York
The role of Edward Lewis was originally written as a cold businessman. This made Richard Gere hesitant to take on the part, insisting that anyone could play the role of a “suit”. It would take a special trip from the leading lady to convince him.
Julia Roberts flew to New York specifically to convince her leading man Gere to take the role. Their chemistry was instant, and Gere took on the role of Edward. It is said that during a phone call with director Gary Marshall, Roberts passed a post-it note to Gere saying “please say yes”. Luckily, he did.
A Gag Gone Wrong
One of the things that everyone loved about the character of Vivian was that she was vulnerable, a bit rough around the edges and had a heart of gold. One of the scenes that endeared audiences to Vivian was when she blew her nose into the hotel concierge’s handkerchief.
Julia Roberts improvised the funny scene, hoping it would make it into the gag reel. She was horrified when she realized they were going to keep the scene in the movie. Roberts felt that blowing her nose on camera was gross, but the director perfectly saw the humor and honesty in the moment.
The Perfect Prank
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie actually started out as a prank. On their way to the Opera, Edward presents Vivian with a diamond necklace to wear with her evening gown. As Vivian looks down at the diamond and goes to touch the necklace Edward snaps the box shut on her hand, leading Vivian to burst into laughter and shock.
That reaction was actually unscripted, as both Gere and the director Garry Marshall wanted to see if they could create a spark in an otherwise boring scene. Julia’s loveable laugh was the perfect touch and created movie magic.
Happens All The Time
Another memorable scene is where Vivian tries and fails to eat escargot. As Vivian attempts to grab the escargot with tongs, it shoots across the room. A waiter catches it, stating “it happens all the time”, leading to one of the movie’s best quotes.
This quote was revisited in the 2001 movie The Princess Diaries, another movie by director Garry Marshall. The same actor was cast as the waiter, saying the famous “it happens all the time” quote when a character breaks her champagne flute with a butter knife while making a toast. It’s the quote that keeps on giving!
Julia Roberts Weakness
Who can forget Julia Roberts’s iconic laugh as she is lying on the hotel room floor watching reruns of I Love Lucy episodes? It was one of the moments that got Edward’s attention! An unknown fact is that Roberts’ hysterical laugh was not from the reruns but from some mischievous crew members.
Behind the scenes, crew members were tickling her feet as the camera was focused on her face. Roberts was so ticklish that she didn’t actually watch the reruns, and was attempting to stop the crew members from preying on her ticklish weakness. The resulting laugh was movie perfection.
The $30 Dollar Purchase
One of the movie’s iconic outfits is the tight dress, thigh-high boots, and red jacket that Vivian wears when she meets Edward on the street corner. The jacket seems like a seamless part of the wardrobe, but it was actually a last-minute addition.
Even though the script originally called for a jacket, the wardrobe department was unable to find one that fit the scene. In a twist of fate, they spotted a jacket on a girl walking down the street where they were filming. Even though the girl asked for tickets to Disneyland, they were able to convince her to sell the jacket for $30.
The Speeding Actress
Speeding down Hollywood Boulevard in a sports car sounds like anyone’s dream. Apparently, it was one of Julia Roberts’ favorite scenes as well. When asked about one of her favorite memories from the movie, she stated: “I don’t know, driving around in the car in Hollywood was pretty hilarious.”
Julia Roberts was 21 at the time of filming and had little driving experience. Even though she was not an experienced race car driver, Roberts drove full steam ahead, speeding along Hollywood Blvd. So much so, that it was difficult for the director and cameramen to keep up with the speeding actress.
All About The Walk
Next time you watch Pretty Woman, take time to focus on Julia Roberts’ walk. Apparently, watching Roberts try to walk and not stumble in her thigh-high boots was one of Richard Gere’s favorite scenes in the movie.
Roberts is known to shun high heels and prefers to be barefoot, even on set and in character. Vivian’s streetwalker heels made for an awkward strut and left Roberts trying not to trip. Gere stated that watching her maneuver in her boots was “fun for everyone.” You would never know, as her confidence shined even while wearing Vivian’s skimpy outfit and sky-high heels.
The Wardrobe Change
What if Vivian had worn a classic black dress to the opera? Would it have had the same impact? That is the question costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker had to beg as executives fought her over her choice of the red dress. The top executives originally wanted a simple black dress for Vivian to wear to her big opera experience.
And yet, the historic red evening gown that Julia Robert’s character Vivian wears on her date to the opera has become symbolic of the film. The costume designer was able to convince the executive team by doing a screen test with the iconic dress, therefore cementing the dress in movie history.
The Most Expensive Prop
Vivian and Edward had a security guard following them to the opera. The diamond that Edwards wraps around Vivian’s neck as her gift for a night at the opera was actually a $250,000 necklace on loan from a prominent jewelry store.
Due to the value of the necklace, a security guard followed the pair around the set for the entirety of the shoot where she wears the necklace. The necklace was always within the guard’s vision and never left the set. Due to the success of the movie, the jewelry could have easily been bought with or without the bodyguard.
The Song Behind The Title
Once the movie was purchased by Disney, the original title 3,000 was left on the cutting room floor. So, how did they come up with the now-famous title Pretty Woman? It came straight from one of the most popular songs in history. The recognizable song by Roy Orbison was the perfect match for the Cinderella story of Vivian.
It took some time to secure the rights to the song Pretty Woman. Yet, once the producers were able to use the music in the movie, they immediately chose to use the title of the song as the title for the now-classic movie.
The Disappearing Crew
In another behind the scenes prank, Julia Roberts went underwater and came back to the surface to find an empty room! While filming the famous bathtub scene where Edward offers Vivian $3,000 to be his companion for the week, Roberts is supposed to sink under the bathtub of bubbles shouting for joy.
During one of the shots, Roberts came back up from the water to find that the crew and Richard Gere had disappeared from the room. Roberts found this particular prank hilarious and her reaction can be found in behind the scene videos on the DVD extras and YouTube.
The Case Of The Fading Hair Color
In one of the more humorous behind the scenes facts, Julia Roberts had a mishap involving the bubble bath scene and her hair color. While filming the bubble bath scene, Roberts had to repeatedly submerge herself underwater, yet in a twist of movie trickery, the bubbles were created using heavy-duty laundry detergent.
Due to the strength of the laundry detergent, Robert’s hair color immediately started to fade. After a long day of filming the bubble bath scene, she had to re-color her famous red hair since the detergent stripped her hair color! A quick save for filming the next day.
The Race Car
Having your car featured in a major motion picture might sound like a slam dunk, but there were notoriously two very famous car manufacturers that refused to be associated with the movie. The studios approached both Ferrari and Porsche, who immediately declined due to the subject matter of the movie and streetwalker subplot.
The producers were able to secure a silver Lotus 1989 Espirit SE to film the scenes where Edward and Vivian meet on Hollywood Blvd. Ironically, the Lotus was a racing and sports car that Julia Roberts notoriously raced through the LA streets and boosted the car’s reputation.
The Homeless Man
In a “blink and you missed it moment”, the director of the movie Garry Marshall made a cameo in the movie. Marshall was also an actor who loved to make random cameos in his movies, and Pretty Woman was no different.
Marshall played the homeless man digging through the trash of a Beverly Hills home. Edward is trying to drive his car back to the hotel and asks the homeless man for directions. After being waved off, Edward pulls over on Hollywood Blvd to try and find directions and meets Vivian. You can thank the grumpy homeless man for their match!
The Transforming Pancake
Sometimes, even the best movies mess up their props and continuity. In between resets for multiple takes of the same scene, props get mixed up. This was the case with the croissant and pancake during Edward and Vivian’s first breakfast together.
While Vivian is asking Edward about his career she is happily eating a croissant. They speak about his role at his company and their educations, engaging in small talk as Vivian feasts on the breakfast. When the camera pans back to Vivian, her croissant is now a pancake. This magical switch was not lost on audiences and has become a famous movie blip.
Bringing Back A Genre
Due to the chemistry or Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and the romantic fairy tale plot, Pretty Woman was a huge box office success. Not only did it make Julia Roberts a superstar, but it brought back the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) genre. The ’90s has now become synonymous with the Rom-Com.
Roberts was now the official Rom-Com queen of the ’90s and subsequently starred in the Rom-Com hit Notting Hill, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Runaway Bride. The genre also ignited the careers of Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan, with While You Were Sleeping and When Harry Met Sally becoming huge Rom-Com hits.
Prepping For The Role
Most actors take time to research and prepare for a role, especially if the role is based on an unknown industry. Julian Roberts prepared for the role of Vivian by visiting a Los Angeles free clinic that represented streetwalkers, homeless people and addicts like those that surrounded her character.
Roberts was able to spend a few days at the clinic since Garry Marshall’s wife was a nurse there and allowed Roberts access to the nurses and patients. Roberts was able to immerse herself with the women who had lived some of Vivian’s experiences, giving her performance the vulnerability we have grown to love.
No Love For The Love Scene
No one said love scenes are fun to film, but the very thought of shooting a love scene made Julia Roberts break out in hives. Although Roberts had a few love scenes in the romantic movie, it took quite a bit of work behind the scenes to get her comfortable.
During the shooting of her first love scene with Richard Gere, Roberts was so nervous that a vein bulged forward on her forehead and needed to be massaged until it disappeared. Roberts filmed the scene covered in Calamine lotion to heal the hives. Definitely not the romantic vision we saw on screen!
The Body Double
The now-classic movie poster for Pretty Woman has a ton of secrets and movie trickery in it. Did you know that the body in the poster isn’t, in fact, Julia Roberts but her body double, Shelley Michelle? The production company wanted to make sure the body matched the scenes where Michelle was shown wearing and putting on the infamous dress and therefore preformed some photoshop magic.
Richard Gere was also photoshopped, with his grey hair being transformed into a noticeable shiny black coif. These tweaks were both made well before photoshop became the norm in Hollywood, creating quite the uproar at the time.
The Hidden Talent
Actors have many talents, and Richard Gere is no exception. Besides being an award-winning actor, Gere is also an accomplished pianist. In the scene where Edward is quietly playing the piano in an empty conference room, Gere was actually performing one of his original scores.
Not only is Gere a pianist, but he plays the trumpet and excelled in gymnastics in high school. The actor turned down a gymnastics scholarship to the University of Massachusetts to follow his dream of acting but has kept up his musical passions. He even learned to tap dance and sing for the movie Chicago!
Dental Work Needed
A fake fight in movies can often turn heated for the actors involved. Richard Gere injured himself during his fight with Jason Alexander, who played his corrupt lawyer, Phillip Stuckey. During the scene, Gere knocked a crown loose in his mouth, injuring his tooth. Both actors took the scene seriously and took their fight full-on.
In the scene, you can view Gere licking his tooth and grabbing his chin, which was kept in the movie due to its realism. The fight between Edward and Stuckey cemented the vision that Edward was the knight in shining armor, saving Vivian from Stuckey’s attack.
Breaking The Records
Over 20 years later, Pretty Woman is still adored by people all over the world. It still holds the record for the highest-grossing rated R-rated Disney movie and highest ticket sale numbers for a Rom-Com in the United States.
Did you know that over 42.1 million tickets were sold when the movie was released? And that number is not even including DVD sales! The movie earned Julia Roberts an Oscar Nomination for Best Actress and is still considered one of the top romantic comedies of all time. Pretty Woman went onto make over $463,406,268 worldwide, making a huge success in every way!