The Dark Truth Behind Pretty Woman And Other Things Producers Hid From Fans

Pretty Woman is one of the best films of the ’90s. Garry Marshall’s blockbuster rom-com has become iconic in American pop culture and helped launch Julia Roberts’ career. A lot of people have the lines and scenes memorized by heart, but what many don’t know is that it was originally a film called 3000, or how much it cost to hire Vivian, or how it was not romantic or funny at all. There are still a lot more facts that people don’t know about Pretty Woman – perhaps the most shocking of them all is what Richard Gere really thinks of the movie!

Pretty Woman Was Not Meant To Be Lighthearted

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Pretty Woman lives on in the hearts and minds of America as an endearing tale about a woman of the night with a heart of gold. But before it was Pretty Woman, it was actually a much darker tale titled 3000.

Screenwriter J.F. Lawton’s original script was about two damaged souls who spend a week together. Vivian was originally written to have a drug addition and instead of the balcony reunion scene, the original script ended in tears.

Once you find out how the film was originally supposed to end, you’ll be glad the producers changed their mind!

Did You Spot This Photoshop Job?

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If you’ve seen the promotional poster for Pretty Woman, you’ll notice that Roberts wears a very similar outfit in the movie. In the movie, Roberts’s outfit is blue and white, instead of pink and black like it is on the poster.

You might wonder why they just didn’t use the same outfit, but in fact, they didn’t even use the same body! Body double Shelley Michelle is the person who posed for the poster and Julia Roberts’s head was later superimposed onto Michelle’s body. Apparently, they did this since it’s harder to round up all the actors again for post-production stuff.

The Unhappy Ending At The Happiest Place On Earth

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The movie wasn’t meant to have a happy ending – despite the fact that it was going to end at Disneyland. “At the end of the original script, Richard [Gere]’s character threw my character out of the car, threw the money on top of her and drove away and the credits rolled,” Julia Roberts told NBC.

After Edward abandons Vivian in the street, the final scene is of her and her friend Kit on a bus to Disneyland. There was no love at the end of the original script, only Vivian staring into the distance "with utterly blank and empty eyes."

Whether they went with the grittier Vivian or not, we can’t imagine anyone else but Julia Roberts for the role. Still, you won’t believe who they wanted to cast instead!

They Attended The OperaLa Traviata For A Reason

Edward takes Vivian to an opera that was so enthralling she nearly peed her pants! That opera was La Traviata and it actually hits closer to home than you might think. La Traviata is considered the original Pretty Woman because it also is about a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy man.

It’s so fitting that they attended this opera and that’s probably what the writers intended anyway. Unfortunately in La Traviata, you don’t get the same happy ending as Pretty Woman. Spoiler alert! The main character Violetta contracts tuberculosis and after her final song, she dies in her lover’s arms.

Julia Roberts Would Have Played A Darker Version Of Vivian

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Julia Roberts was sent a copy of the original screenplay and despite its dark nature she has said in a past interview that she "chased it down like a dog. I just loved it. My reaction to her was a balance of intrigue and fear – the same balance I felt toward Daisy in Mystic Pizza and Shelby in Steel Magnolias."

Roberts was on board from the get-go, but once Disney got involved they weren’t convinced that Roberts was the right leading lady. Sandra Bullock and Sarah Jessica Parker were also considered, but we can’t imagine Vivian played by anyone other than Julia Roberts.

Producers had Julia Roberts locked in pretty early on in production, but finding her leading man was not that easy!

Garry Marshall Made A Couple Of Cameos

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Director Garry Marshall made a cameo appearance in his own film. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment happens towards the beginning of the film. Before Edward finds himself lost in Hollywood, he attempts to orient himself by asking a homeless man for directions.

That homeless man was played by Marshall himself! He’s the one who gives Richard Gere’s character the details on where Sylvester Stallone allegedly lives. That’s not his only cameo either. Marshall also appeared as a janitor outside of the Regent Beverly Wilshire later on in the film.

Finding The Leading Man Wasn’t That Easy

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Finding the leading man wasn’t as easy as casting Julia Roberts. She screen tested against some of Hollywood’s finest leading men such as Sam Neill, Tom Conti, and Charles Grodin. No one was quite right as Roberts managed to hold her own against all of them.

Even Al Pacino read for the part. In an interview with Larry King, Pacino said, “I could tell Julia Roberts was a great actress… She had never done anything. I even said to Garry Marshall, this girl, where did you find her?” Pacino ultimately turned down the part because he didn’t feel right in the role.

Of course, Richard Gere got the part but he initially said no. Wait until you see what Julia Roberts did to get him to say yes!

The Big, Huge Mistake Porsche And Ferrari Made

Remember when Vivian first meets Edward at Hollywood Boulevard’s red light district? Edward is driving his lawyer’s Lotus Esprit but clearly has no idea what he’s doing and lets Vivian drive him in it to his hotel.

The producers initially wanted to use a Ferrari or a Porsche for the scene, but both car companies declined since they didn’t want to be associated with prostitution. Luckily, Lotus Cars UK jumped at the chance for their car to be used in a Hollywood film. Afterward, their sales tripled from 1990 to 1991. Looks like Ferrari and Porshe missed out!

Richard Gere Didn’t Even Want To Be In The Movie

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Considering how many actors were considered for the role of Edward Lewis, it’s lucky that they landed Richard Gere. They had a hard time getting him to sign on to the movie because he reportedly turned down the role multiple times.

It wasn’t until Marshall brought Roberts to Gere’s apartment that he changed his mind. Gere was captivated by Roberts when he met her for the first time and Marshall could tell that they had instant chemistry. The deciding moment was when Roberts took a post-it and wrote: “please say yes.” After that, Gere finally agreed to do the role.

Richard Gere was probably the only one who could get the perfect reaction out of Roberts for one of the movie’s iconic scenes anyway, as you’ll soon see…

Richard Gere Played His Own Composition

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Richard Gere is a talented musician in real life and he has often proved it on film. For Pretty Woman, he wanted to play the piano. Not only was he actually playing the piano in the film, but he was also playing a piece that he composed himself!

It’s pretty incredible that Gere got to inject his character Edward with a little personal flair. This isn’t the only time he’s accomplished this either. Gere later starred in Runaway Bride – also with Julia Roberts – but in that movie he decided to play the guitar.

Richard Gere Improvised This Whole Scene

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The scene where Edward presents Vivian with the diamond necklace is one of the most memorable in the movie. We all remember the moment Vivian attempts to touch the necklace but Edward suddenly snaps the lid shut on her fingers, which causes her to laugh.

This scene was entirely improvised by Richard Gere. Roberts wasn’t expecting him to snap the lid, which is why her laugh is so genuine. Many critics believe that this is the moment America fell in love with Julia Roberts and her infamous laugh. We’re lucky that this moment made it on film.

Speaking of the necklace, wait until you see why it was a star of its own on set!

The Film Was Really Shot At The Beverly Wilshire

The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel is where Edward is staying for the duration of the film. They didn’t fake the set either –Pretty Woman was shot on location at the Regent Beverly Wilshire! But this was only due to the fact that the Beverly Wilshire was the only hotel that would allow them to film outside and in the lobby.

Any other hotels that declined really missed out because Pretty Woman made that hotel famous! The Beverly Wilshire still stands today, although it is now a Four Seasons hotel. Die-hard fans can book a “Pretty Woman For A Day” resort package for the full experience!

The Necklace Really Was Worth A Quarter Of A Million Dollars

Speaking of that beautiful necklace, Edward says that a jewelry shop loaned it to him for the night. As it turns out, that’s exactly how the producers acquired the necklace for the film. A necklace of that value didn’t happen to just be available in wardrobe.

The necklace reportedly really did cost a quarter of a million dollars. Costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker managed to borrow the necklace for the film, but it was so valuable that it required its own security guard while it was on set! The security guard stood next to Garry Marshall during filming.

Dealing with something so valuable might have caused a bit of pressure for the actors, but not as much as filming an intimate naked scene as you’ll soon see…

Vivian’s Jacket Was A Movie Usher’s Uniform

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Vivian wears a lot of iconic outfits in Pretty Woman. But do you remember the red jacket that she wears throughout the film? The producers saw the jacket worn by a movie usher, who sold it to them for just $30.

No one could have predicted how huge this movie ended up being, but we’re sure that the movie usher is upset they only made $30 off the now-iconic piece of outerwear. There’s a pro-tip for anyone who is looking for some Pretty Woman style tips on a budget: inspiration can come from anywhere!

Julia Roberts Was Too Nervous To Film This Scene

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Julia Roberts was quite young – 23, to be exact – when Pretty Woman was filmed. On top of that, she was relatively unknown so she didn’t have a lot of notable acting credits to her name yet. So it’s understandable that someone so new to the game would be nervous filming an intimate scene.

Remember the nearly-nude scene where Edward and Vivian sleep together? Rumor has it that Roberts was so nervous to film it that a visible vein popped out of her forehead. Marshall got into bed with her and Gere and the men had to massage her forehead to calm her nerves.

Gere obviously played an important role both on camera and behind the scenes, but you won’t believe what he really thinks of “Pretty Woman.”

She Was Meant To Be A Lady In Red

Roberts looks truly ravishing in the red dress that Vivian wears to the opera. The bright red dress is iconic, but there was a brief moment in time that it could have been a different color. Thankfully, costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker knew that red was the way to go.

Vance-Straker told Elle in 2010, “The studio really wanted black, but I knew it needed to be red. Before the decision was made, we ended up having to create three different dresses… Finally, I was able to find the right shade and convince everyone to go [in] my direction.”

Richard Gere Doesn’t Even Remember Pretty Woman

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Pretty Woman has had a place in the hearts of movie fans for all these years but don’t count Richard Gere among them. In fact, the whole movie, for him, is largely forgettable.

Gere told Woman’s Day in 2012 about his real feelings towards Pretty Woman: “It’s my least favorite thing. People ask me about [it], but I’ve forgotten it. That was a silly romantic comedy.” He went on to say, “[Pretty Woman] made [guys like Edward] seem dashing, which was so wrong. Thankfully, today, we are all more skeptical of those guys.”

Pretty Woman Was Nominated For Four Golden Globes

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Pretty Woman was celebrated by movie audiences and critics alike, so it’s no surprise that it was nominated for four Golden Globe awards. Julia Roberts won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

It was actually Roberts’ second consecutive Golden Globe win, which is pretty impressive for someone whose career was just starting out. She previously won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for 1989’s Steel Magnolias. Having also snagged an Oscar nod for Pretty Woman, it was clear that Roberts’s career was only headed up in the future.

Pretty Woman Is The Fourth Highest-Grossing Rom-Com Of All Time

Pretty Woman is one of the most iconic romantic-comedies in American cinema. As of 2018, Pretty Woman still dominates as the fourth highest-grossing romantic-comedy of all time with a total box office take of about $178.4 million.

It sits right behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding, What Women Want, and Hitch, so Pretty Woman is still the most successful rom-com of the ’90s. It’s only fitting since Pretty Woman is ubiquitous of that era! There’s Something About Mary, which came out in 1998, trails right behind it with a total gross of $176.5 million.

Roberts, Gere, Elizondo Teamed Up Again For A Marshall Movie

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It seems that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere worked so well as a couple that they were brought together again for another Garry Marshall film. Nine years after Pretty Woman premiered in, they all teamed up again for 1999’s Runaway Bride.

Runaway Bride sees Gere chasing after Roberts once again, but this time as a journalist who is trying to get to the bottom of why Roberts’ character keeps leaving men at the altar. Héctor Elizondo returned for this film as well, but of course, he is a Garry Marshall movie icon and is always cast in the director’s projects.

Julia Roberts Flubbed Her First Line

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We’re not sure what’s cuter, Julia Roberts flubbing the very first lines of the film, or Richard Gere replying back without skipping a beat. In the beginning of the film, Roberts is supposed to say, “Yeah, I’m gonna grab a cab with my 20 bucks.”

She accidentally tripped up her lines, however, and said, “Yeah I’m gonna grab a crab with my 20 bucks.” Gere didn’t miss a beat, and replied, “Yeah, there are a lot of crabs out there.”

Gere and Roberts Had Fun On Set

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Another funny outtake was the bathtub scene. There, Roberts is in the tub, and signing “Kiss” with her eyes closed in a pile of bubbles while Gere is on the phone. In an outtake, Gere thought it would be funny if he left the room, leaving Roberts alone when she’s expecting him to be there.

When she opens her eyes, Roberts yelled, “Where’d you go? Everybody left, you [expletive]?” It’s clear that the two A list actors had quite a bit of fun between takes.

Hollywood Wasn’t As Glamourous Then

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While many of the scenes were shot around Hollywood, it wasn’t as clean and glamorous in 1990 as it is today. The streets were dirtier and rougher, and the production team didn’t have a lot of money in the budget to make it look prettier.

In fact, they didn’t even have a budget for better lighting, often just going off the neon lights and other street lighting around them. It’s pretty impressive that on a $14 million budget they were able to produce $463.4 million at the box office.

They Had to Change Shooting Locations Due To An Earthquake

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Roberts famously attends the opera with Gere, stunning in her red off-the-shoulder dress and white gloves. The scenes of the outside of the opera house were originally supposed to be filmed outside of the opera house in San Francisco. They had the permits and everything was ready to go.

Soon before they were going to film on location, an earthquake in San Francisco blew out the windows of the opera house. The crew switched gears and filmed the scenes at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, across from USC, instead.

The Meaning Behind the Original Name of the Film

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As we mentioned earlier, Pretty Woman was originally intended to be a much darker film titled 3,000. The number 3,000 was supposed to symbolize $3,000 — which was the amount Edward agreed to pay Vivian for her week-long stint as his Los Angeles companion.

The original screenplay was sought after by numerous production companies, but eventually, Disney’s Touchstone Pictures outbid the rest. Although Touchstone is more adult-oriented than Disney proper, they still opted for a more family-friend title.

Prince’s “Kiss” Isn’t Even on the Soundtrack

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In one of the most memorable scenes of Pretty Woman, Vivian sings Prince’s hit song “Kiss” while in the massive bathtub in the hotel room — she even makes the kissing noises. But despite how iconic the scene became, the song wasn’t even include on the original soundtrack.

Interestingly, Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” is included in the soundtrack, although it didn’t actually make it into the movie. Still, the 11-song soundtrack was successful worldwide, even going platinum five times in Canada and two times in the United Kingdom.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Molly Ringwald Were Originally Offered the Part

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Julia Roberts seems like the perfect fit for the role of Vivian Ward. It’s hard to imagine the movie without her actually. But did you know that Molly Ringwald and Michelle Pfeiffer were both offered the part before Roberts was?

The good thing is, Both Pfeiffer and Ringwald turned down the role because of the controversial content in the script. Which just makes us believe this role really was made for Roberts because all the pieces fell into place accordingly.

Getting into Character Through The Clinic

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We’ve heard many stories of actors and actresses preparing for their upcoming role in various ways. For example, Hugh Jackman put himself through a rigorous training an dieting circuit to get ready to become Wolverine. Others include Christian Bale gaining weight to get more into his character.

For Julia Roberts, she spent countless days at the Los Angeles free clinic. Director Garry Marshall had a wife who worked there, so the wife would welcome in Roberts whenever she wanted. That’s where Roberts learned her speech and mannerisms she used.

Some Friendly, Barking Interruptions

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How awkward is it when you’re with your significant other, about to embark on an adult journey and then your pet gets involved. It’s especially bad when your dog thinks you’re getting attacked, so he or she keeps getting in the way of the action.

Well, this is what happened on the set while shooting the first romantic scene of the movie. Julia Roberts had her dog on set that day, and the little guy obviously didn’t like what he saw! He continued to run over to Roberts, barking as if he was protecting her. They had to do a lot of takes of the scene before getting it right.

Marilyn Vance-Straker Was Responsible for Other Cult Classic Wardrobes

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You already know that Marilyn Vance-Straker designed Vivian’s iconic red dress — but Vance-Straker was also responsible for a slew of other cult classic wardrobes.

The costume designer also designed clothing for films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But although her work can be seen in numerous films, she earned special recognition for Pretty Woman. She was even nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for ‘Best Costume Design.’

You Can Visit the Real Restaurant From the Film

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Did you know that fancy restaurant scene was filmed in an actual restaurant? When Pretty Woman was in production, the Los Angeles restaurant was known as Rex II Ristorante, but today it’s known as Cicada. It’s quite the hotspot for films and has been featured in a handful of movies like Indecent Proposal and Bruce Almighty.

If you’d like to the visit, you’re in luck. Cicada is still serving patrons high-end Italian cuisine four nights a week. There’s even a “Pretty Woman” table you can reserve.

Was Richard Gere’s Hair Photoshopped?

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Although it’s a minor detail, fans were quick to point out that Richard Gere’s hair seems to be Photoshopped in the poster for Pretty Woman. In the poster, Gere is sporting a full head of brown hair, but in the movie, he’s mostly grey.

Considering Shelley Michelle doubled as a body double for Julia Roberts for the poster, we think Gere’s grey is pretty minor! Funny enough, the actor has been asked how he feels about going grey in an interview, to which he replied that he embraces it.

The Fake Fight Between Richard Gere and Jason Alexander Got Heated

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Fake fighting always runs the risk of becoming more than fake. You never know how hard you might hit someone — even if it’s on accident — and you don’t know how much a person can tolerate. In the fight scene between Richard Gere and Jason Alexander, some accidental punches were thrown.

Alexander hit Gere too hard in his face by mistake, which caused his crown to loosen in his mouth. Alexander felt horrible, but they had no option but to continue the scene while Gere had to deal with the dental dilemma.

Tickling Julia Roberts’ Feet Helped Her Relax

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Not only was Julia Roberts nervous during the romantic scenes with Richard Gere, but since this was her first leading role, she was also very skittish throughout the whole film. That may seem like a surprise thanks to her bubbly personality and the huge smile she always seems to sport, but filming wasn’t always easy.

Apparently, the director had to tickle her feet off camera to get that fantastic smile out of her. We think it worked pretty well!

Julia Roberts Defended Pretty Woman

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Although Pretty Woman was a box office winner, many still thought the subject matter was too controversial. Still, this didn’t stop the film from grossing more than $463 million. Julia Roberts was proud of the cast and crew’s hard work and was quick to defend the film when she was asked about the subject matter in an interview.

“What are you going to do? You can’t please everybody,” Roberts said. “That movie was a fairytale. We did everything but put a glass slipper on. And I’ll tell you something else: for $3,000 a weekend, Richard Gere got a bargain.”

Lots of Other Hollywood A-Listers Were Up for the Role of Edwards

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We already detailed how hard it was for the casting directors to fill the role of Edward — but you might not know just how many A-listers were considered for the part.

Denzel Washington, Daniel-Day Lewis, and Christopher Reeve were all contenders for the leading spot, but it was Richard Gere who led the pack. Now that Pretty Woman is nearly 30 years old and is still a favorite, we really can’t imagine anyone else playing the part!

The Ones Who Turned It Down

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While Richard Gere ended up being the perfect fit for the role of Edward, he wasn’t the first actor offered the job. Amidst the casting chaos for Pretty Woman, a few Hollywood A-listers turned down the role. Who exactly? Al Pacino, Albert Brooks, and Sylvester Stallone to name a few.

While each of the actors turned down the role for different reasons, it’s safe to say it was a big missed opportunity as Pretty Woman went on to become a classic film still remembered to this day.

The Cast Reunited On the Today Show In 2015

In August 2018, the Broadway musical version of Pretty Woman debuted. Julia Roberts made a surprise appearance to honor director Gary Marshall, who passed away in 2016. The actress donned an orange Laverne and Shirley t-shirt, which was a sweet nod to the series that Marshall worked on.

Before the show began, Roberts walked the red carpet with Marshall’s family, including his widow Barbara and the couple’s children, Kathleen and Scott. “We know he’s here tonight,” said Barbara.

The Duo Came Together Again Nearly a Decade Later


Julia Roberts and Richard Gere have undeniable chemistry in Pretty Woman and truly make the movie what it is. The pair is so great together on screen that fans everywhere remarked how they wished the two would do more projects together. Roberts and Gere answered those wishes…it just took nearly a decade.

The pair starred in Runaway Bride, which premiered in 1999. Better yet, Hector Elizondo and Kathleen Marshall joined them too! The movie follows Maggie Carpenter who has been branded the “runaway bride” after having left three men at the altar. Although not quite as successful as Pretty Woman, the film still became a fan favorite and grossed nearly $310 million.