Pretty Woman first hit screens in 1990 and it was immediately a smash success! It also takes credit for breaking Julia Roberts into true Hollywood stardom for her role as Vivian. Meanwhile, Richard Gere swept us all off our feet in the movie as the wealthy Edward (after his icy heart was thawed by our Cinderella princess, of course). This romantic comedy remains one of the best in the genre and will remain beloved in our hearts forever. But what about all the secrets off-screen? Read on to find out all the juicy behind-the-scenes facts about the classic movie Pretty Woman. If you don’t… Big mistake. Big. Huge!
1. A Different Movie Altogether
Nowadays, Pretty Woman is known as a classic romantic comedy. But it certainly didn’t start out that way. The original script was actually pretty dark. It was a cautionary tale about drugs and prostitution. The main character of Vivian was an addict.
In the script, Edward paid Vivian $3,000 to spend the week with him and not do any drugs. It ends with him getting fed up with her and dropping her on the side of the road. Her best friend Kit even dies of a drug overdose. We’re glad that version of the movie didn’t happen. Sounds depressing.
2. What’s In A Name?
It might be the romantic comedy we all know and love, but the movie Pretty Woman was almost called something else entirely and was almost a completely different movie. The original title for the movie was “3000”, a reference to the price Vivian charged.
Julia Roberts’ character, Vivian, charged Edward $3,000 to spend the week with him. But during testing, it turned out that the original title of the movie, 3000, was too confusing for audiences, which makes sense. Good thing they changed it.
3. Almost Molly
Before Julia Roberts landed the part of Vivian Ward, the role was offered to Molly Ringwald. Coming off the success of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, the actress would have been a big-name addition to the cast of Pretty Woman.
Ringwald saw an early version of the script and wasn’t interested, so she turned the offer down. But she says she has no regrets about it. “Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that,” the actress stated.
4. Other Possible Vivians
Another actress that came very close to playing the part of Vivian was Diane Lane. She was so close to taking the role that she even went through costume fittings but she ultimately had to turn down the part due to scheduling conflicts.
Lots of other actresses turned down the role of Vivian. Daryl Hannah didn’t want the part because she believed the early version of the script was “degrading to women” and Michelle Pfeiffer also turned down the part because of the script’s “tone.”
5. Not So Family Friendly
Would you be surprised to hear that the owners and production company behind Pretty Woman is actually Disney? Well, you better believe it. The screenplay was purchased by Disney and they produced the movie. So technically Pretty Woman is, in fact, a Disney movie.
Viewers might not have noticed this detail because the film was produced under their film production banner, Touchstone Pictures. It’s actually not a separate company, simply a different name for their more mature brand of movies. Pretty shocking when you think about it.
6. Goodbye, Julia
When Julia Roberts was first cast to play the lead role in Pretty Woman, she was super excited about the part because at the time, she was still a relatively unknown actress. Unfortunately, her happiness only lasted for about a weekend.
Just a few days after landing the role, the rights to the movie were sold off to Disney. Technically, Roberts was out of a job for a few days until they brought in a new director, Gary Marshall. He decided that he wanted to keep her in the movie and the rest is history.
7. Finding a Male Lead
Looking back on things, it’s clear that Richard Gere was meant for the role of Edward Lewis, but that wasn’t always the case. It took the casting director of Pretty Woman a very long time to find the perfect Edward, and one that would accept the role too.
Most of the actors who were approached for the part were reluctant and eventually said no. Gere was almost one of them. He thought the role of Edward was boring and that it could have been played by anyone in a suit. So why did he eventually say yes? Read on.
8. Say Yes
Richard Gere needed a lot of convincing to accept the role of Edward in Pretty Woman. His initial concern was that the part was bland and had no personality. He jokingly said in an interview that you could have put a suit on a goat and it would have turned out the same.
It took Julia Roberts taking a special trip to New York City to meet with him for Richard Gere to eventually agree. He took the role mainly due to his chemistry with Roberts. While Gere was on the phone with the director, Roberts slid him a post-it note with the words “please say yes,” and he did.
9. The Handkerchief Scene
That scene where Julia Roberts was blowing her nose in the room while the hotel concierge was on the phone was completely improvised. She thought that it would make for a funny gag in the moment but later regretted it.
Roberts reportedly hated the scene because she didn’t feel like her blowing her nose on camera was funny at all. In fact, it is kind of gross… But that is what we love about Vivian; she is rough around the edges but sweet as a peach.
10. Unscripted But Classic
The scene where Edward Lewis presents Vivian Ward with the diamond necklace for the opera is one of the most classic scenes in the movie. But did you know that the part where he jokingly closes the box on Vivian was an unscripted prank?
Julia Roberts’ reaction was so natural and lovable that the director, Garry Marshall, decided to leave it in the movie. Good thing he did because the scene is one of the most memorable and famous scenes in all of Pretty Woman.
11. The Scene With The Snails
One of the funniest scenes is where Vivian is attempting to eat escargot but it slips out of her hands. The waiter catches it and tells Vivian that “it happens all the time.” You might have seen that scene happen again because it was duplicated years later in the 2001 movie The Princess Diaries.
In The Princess Diaries, a movie also by Garry Marshall, the exact same actor was cast as a waiter. When character Mia Thermopolis breaks a champagne flute after hitting it too hard with a butter knife, the actor tells her “it happens all the time.” Both Vivian and Mia then proceed to eat a green dessert after their mishaps.
12. That Laugh
In the scene where Julia Roberts is lying on the hotel floor of Edward’s hotel room and laughing at old reruns of I Love Lucy, she is laughing hysterically. Do you know how Roberts was able to perfect that amazing laugh?
Well, it wasn’t all just amazing acting. Just off camera, crew members were actually tickling the actresses’ feet just out of view of the cameras. The laugh was genuine enough, but she wasn’t actually laughing at the reruns. Watch out, Roberts! We all know your weakness now.
13. That Red Jacket
Julia Roberts as Vivian became iconic for the dress, boots and red jacket that she wore. Surely it is some designer jacket that the wardrobe department picked out for the character to wear on screen, right? Nope, not at all close.
The script called for a jacket but they didn’t have one when they arrived to the street to film the scene. So, they found a girl walking down the sidewalk wearing a red jacket they liked. They offered to buy off her to use in the movie. The girl asked for tickets to Disneyland but settled on $30 cash in exchange for the jacket.
14. Julia Roberts’ Favorite Scene
When asked what her favorite scene of the film was, Julia Roberts answered that it was the one where she drove the fancy car down Hollywood Boulevard. “I don’t know, driving around in the car in Hollywood was pretty hilarious,” Roberts said in a later interview.
She also admitted that she didn’t know how to drive very well back then at such a young age. Director Gary Marshall agreed nonetheless. He added that she drove so fast that it was hard for the cameramen to keep up.
15. Richard Gere’s Favorite Scene
Every actor and actress has their favorite scene from movies they were in, and Richard Gere certainly has more than just a few favorite scenes from the movie. His favorite scenes are anytime Julia Roberts had to walk. Can you guess why?
Because it was fun watching her maneuver in her thigh-high boots and hooker outfit. According to Gere, “that was fun for everyone.” He added that Vivian was “all about the legs.” Read on for some more fun Pretty Woman facts.
16. The Red Dress
The famous red dress that Julia Roberts wears to the opera was almost a different color. The studio reportedly wanted Roberts to wear a black dress, which led to a big disagreement between the costume designer of the movie and the producers.
Costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker eventually won the argument after much screen testing of different-colored dresses was done. The red opera dress with white gloves easily became the most iconic dress of the film. Just think if they had gone with a different dress completely.
17. The Diamond Necklace
The diamond necklace that Edward lends Vivian for the opera wasn’t a prop. It was an actual diamond necklace on loan from a jewelry store and was worth a whopping $250,000. Because of its high value, a security guard was sent to the set.
The security guard was sent from the jewelry store itself and that necklace never left the guard’s sights. The movie was so successful and made so much money at the box office that they could have afforded to buy quite a few of the necklaces.
18. Song Turned Title
The title of the film was originally going to be “3000”. So where did the title Pretty Woman come from? Well, it might surprise you to hear that it came from a famous song and it took some time for the production to get the rights to use it.
Once the movie got the rights to use the classic Roy Orbison song Pretty Woman, the producers decided to change the title. And what better title for the classic romantic comedy than Pretty Woman? We couldn’t imagine in any other way.
19. The Bathtub Prank
In one classic scene, Julia Roberts is singing in the bathtub to Prince’s song Kiss then has a discussion with Richard Gere while still in the tub. At one point Julia goes underwater in a moment of elation. Only not all of her came back up with her.
Vivian is so excited over the amount of money she will be getting from Edward that she goes underwater. For a bit of a prank during filming, Richard Gere and the rest of the crew, just up and disappeared while she was under the water. She found it hilarious!
20. That Hair Color
In the scene where Julia Roberts is taking a bubble bath, the tub was actually full laundry detergent to make all the bubbles. The detergent was so strong and Roberts had to go underwater so many times that the color in her hair started to fade.
That same night after shooting the scene, Julia Roberts had to have her hair re-dyed red because the color had faded so much while filming the bathtub scene. Now we know why people use bubble bath instead of harsh laundry detergent.
21. The Lotus
You might have thought that using a Lotus for the car Edward drove was an interesting choice. Well, they didn’t have many other options. Many car manufacturers didn’t want their names being associated with a film about sex workers. As Vivian would say, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
Neither Ferrari nor Porsche wanted their cars in the movie. Eventually, Lotus offered the film a silver 1989 Espirit SE. Lotus is a British automotive manufacturer that makes sports cars and racing cars. The company certainly made the right choice in having their car featured in the hit movie.
22. A Cameo
You might have missed it but the director of Pretty Woman, Garry Marshall, actually makes a cameo in the movie. Marshall plays the part of a homeless man rummaging through a trash can outside someones house. Bet you didn’t catch that one!
In the scene, Edward stops to ask the homeless man for directions while trying to find his way back to his hotel. After Pretty Woman, Marshall went on to collaborate once again with both Julia Roberts and Richard Gere for the movie Runaway Bride.
23. The Magic Croissant
One flaw you might of missed was when Vivian starts asking Richard Gere’s character Edward what he does for a living while nibbling on a croissant. Edward starts explaining that he buys companies that are in financial trouble and sells them off.
The two then start talking about their education and about “how far” they got in school. This time, when the camera cuts back to Vivian, she is eating a pancake. How did the croissant magically transform into a pancake? This isn’t Harry Potter…
24. Romantic Comedies
The original movie may not have been a romantic comedy, but the final product surely was. Pretty Woman was such a smash hit that it actually caused a resurgence of the genre. The movie, along with When Harry Met Sally, spurred a huge wave of romantic comedies in the ’90s.
Julia Roberts took the resurgence by the horns and came to be known as the queen of Rom Coms (romantic comedies) all throughout the ’90s. Aside from Pretty Woman, she also starred in Notting Hill and Runaway Bride, just to name a few.
25. Preparation For The Role
In order to prepare herself for the role of Vivian, Julia Roberts spent time at a Los Angeles free clinic to try and get closer to people more resembling her character in the movie. Director Garry Marshall’s wife was a nurse at the clinic.
After spending a few days at the Los Angeles free clinic and meeting some of the women there, Roberts felt like she was adequately prepared for her role as Vivian Ward. We don’t know how life-like her portrayal of a sex-worker was but it certainly captivated audiences worldwide.
26. The First Love Scene
Julia Roberts had a number of love scenes in the movie Pretty Woman and she was very nervous while filming each one of them. In the very first love scene she did with co-star Richard Gere, she was so nervous that a vein popped out on her forehead.
Julia Roberts’ forehead had to be massaged until the vein disappeared. Then she got so nervous that she broke out in hives, delaying the scene further. Who can blame her? It must be nerve-racking doing those scenes in front of other people.
27. The Poster
There are a number of things you probably didn’t know about the classic Pretty Woman poster. For one, that isn’t Julia Roberts’ body. Instead, the poster show’s the body of Julia Roberts’ body double, Shelley Michelle. Bet you never noticed that!
For the poster, Robert’s head was superimposed on Michelle’s body. Another thing you might not have noticed is Richard Gere’s hair. In the movie, Gere’s hair is grey, but on the poster his hair is dyed black. Read on because you won’t believe the next Pretty Woman fact.
28. Hidden Talents
In the scene where Richard Gere’s character, Edward, is playing the piano in the hotel, no body doubles were needed at all. Apparently one of Gere’s hidden talents is playing the piano. He even composed the same song that was played in the scene!
Gere was big into music when he was a kid and played the trumpet in high school. In addition to music, he was also apparently good at gymnastics, receiving a gymnastics scholarship to attend the University of Massachusetts. Now that’s impressive.
During Edward’s fight with his lawyer Phillip Stuckey, the fighting got so intense that Richard Gere actually knocked a crown on his tooth loose. That must have been one heck of a “fake fight” to need dental work! Maybe he was tapping into some real rage there?
It could be that the scene where Philip slaps Vivian set him off. That face is far too pretty to even fake slap. Fortunately, Julia Roberts’ smile is insured. Read on to find out some more fascinating facts about the hit movie Pretty Woman.
30. Highest Grossing
Pretty Woman did fantastic at the box office and made a lot of people rich, including the now-famous Julia Roberts. The movie remains, to this date, the highest grossing, R-rated Disney movie ever produced. That’s right, don’t forget that Pretty Woman is a Disney film.
Pretty Woman also saw the highest ticket sale numbers for a romantic comedy in the United States ever. Around 42.1 million tickets were sold for Pretty Woman. Unsurprisingly, the film received very positive reviews as well. Overall, it was a smash hit among all ages.
31. La Traviata
The opera that Vivian and Edward to go is an Italian opera called La Traviata. In a twist of irony, the opera is actually about a man who falls in love with a young courtesan. The opera, however, has a darker ending than Pretty Woman.
While Pretty Woman was eventually given a happy Cinderella ending, the opera La Traviata, which it is loosely based on, ends in heartbreak. The young courtesan, a woman named Violetta, dies at the end of the opera from tuberculosis, leaving her lover in anguish.
32. The Hotel and Sets
The scenes filmed in the Beverly Wilshire hotel weren’t actually filmed at the hotel. They were filmed at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel, which was torn down in 2005. The film had a very large budget which allowed for filming in multiple locations.
Most of the filming for Pretty Woman took place in Los Angeles and fans of the movie can still visit the fancy restaurant where Vivian and Edward dined. Today, the restaurant is called Cicada. Bon appétit! If you ever have some free time in the city, consider taking a Pretty Woman tour.
33. Two Leads
The two leads of Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, had amazing chemistry on set. Anyone who has seen the movie can tell you that. But also, that was a big reason why Richard Gere agreed to take the part.
When Roberts met Gere in New York, he was instantly smitten with Roberts and the two hit it off, chemistry wise. That amazing chemistry was how they knew that the movie was going to be a hit and a big reason why both of them agreed to be in the film in the first place.
34. Hank Azaria
Actor Hank Azaria plays the role of the detective that comes to the scene where a woman was found dead. But did you know that this small part was actually a major milestone for him? It was his first speaking role in a film.
Hank Azaria has gone on to have a highly successful career. He is best-known for his voice-acting work on this hit animated show The Simpsons. Azaria voices the parts of Moe, Wiggum and Apu, in addition to dozens of other integral characters on the show.
35. Southern Accents
The director of Pretty Woman was a bit concerned about Julia Roberts’ slight Southern accent, which at times becomes pretty noticeable. If you were paying attention, at times, Vivian’s Southern accent comes out, especially in the elevator scene when Vivian exclaims, “Well, color me happy.”
In order to avoid any issues, the script was changed to include the fact that Vivian moved to Los Angeles from her home state of Georgia. Julia Roberts was born and raised in Smyrna, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. She also attended Georgia State University before dropping out to pursue her acting career.
36. The Earthquake of 1989
One of the most fascinating scenes of the movie is when Vivian and Edward go to see the opera La Traviata. Anyone who’s familiar with the city would know it was filmed in Los Angeles, but the location was originally supposed to be way different.
The opera scene was originally supposed to be filmed in San Francisco. However, a 6.9 magnitude Earthquake rocked the city, killing 67 and caused damages costing $5 billion. Instead, the scene was filmed at the University of Southern California’s history museum.
37. Second Chances
Richard Gere needed quite a bit of convincing before he finally agreed to play the role of corporate raider Edward Lewis. Possibly one of the factors that influenced his decision was the fact that he regretted that he had declined a huge role three years before.
In 1986, Gere was offered to play Gordon Gekko, also a corporate raider, in the 1987 movie “Wall Street”. The actor who accepted the role, Michael Douglas, ended up winning an academy award for Best Actor for it. So this time around, Gere wasn’t about to miss any awards.
38. Stardom Before Seinfeld
Many people nowadays know actor Jason Alexander for playing the role of George Costanza in the iconic sitcom Seinfeld. But when he took the role of Phillip Stuckey in Pretty Woman, he was a relatively unknown actor on the screen.
Before this, Alexander has a successful career on the Broadway stage and even won a Tony Award in 1989, the same year he was filming Pretty Woman. The movie was released in March 1990, just as the first season of Seinfeld was quickly becoming a TV sensation.
39. Hit Tunes
The title of the movie comes from the 1965 Roy Orbison song “Oh, Pretty Woman” so it only makes sense that the soundtrack for the movie itself would have tons of hits. In fact, the Pretty Woman” soundtrack was a huge commercial success.
It went platinum multiple times in Canada and the UK, platinum once over in Switzerland, and was certified Gold in Sweden, selling 3.6 million copies in those countries alone. The number would for sure be higher with total global sales added in.
40. Predicting the Future
At one point in the movie, Vivian Ward talks about her childhood and how she would pretend to be a princess “trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me.”
It would seem that this was all alluding to the movies fantastic ending but here’s the craziest part: when this scene was filmed, the ending of the movie hadn’t even been written yet! Fortunately, everything wrapped up nicely, thanks to this quote.
41. The Pretty Woman Experience.
Apparently, watching the movie is not enough for some fans and for that reason, the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Los Angeles began offering a Pretty Woman Hotel Experience (minus the more unsavory aspects of the movie) in 2015. The two-night package is as over the top as they come!
It includes two nights in the hotel’s Presidential Suite, shopping on Rodeo Drive with a personal stylist, couples massage, a private dinner with a special menu, and a trip to the opera. All this for the low, low price of $100,000!
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