Julia Roberts
Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
May 25, 2024 ·  5 min read

Richard Gere first refused to do ‘Pretty Woman’ but Julia Roberts used three words to win him over

It’s difficult to envision anyone other than Richard Gere taking on the role of Prince Charming opposite Julia Roberts’ damsel in distress in the contemporary Cinderella tale, Pretty Woman. Gere’s portrayal of Edward, who overcomes his fear of heights in the climactic scene to rescue Vivian (played by Roberts) waiting at the top of her metaphorical tower, left a lasting impression.

What’s less known is that Charles Grodin was a leading contender for the role of Edward. And it was actually Roberts who persuaded Gere to embrace the part in the enduring classic. A role he wasn’t initially sure about. During a reunion of the cast of the beloved 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman in 2015, some previously undisclosed details came to light.

The cast of Pretty Woman reunited, 25 years later
Image Credit: TODAY YouTube

If you’ve seen Pretty Woman, you will remember a confident Richard Gere

The film, featured a 21-year-old Julia Roberts. Who had previously appeared in Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias. This alongside Richard Gere, an already established sex symbol, was initially conceived with a darker narrative under the title “3000.”

In its initial script, the story followed the life of a drug-addicted prostitute who, by the end, is ejected from a limousine and left lying on the street. In a final gesture, Edward tosses $3,000 in earnings onto her body before driving away.

Subsequently, the legendary producer and screenwriter Garry Marshall assumed the role of director, and Disney took the reins, reshaping the film into the beloved fairy tale that continues to captivate generations. Nevertheless, Richard Gere initially had no inclination to take on the leading role and turned down the opportunity multiple times.

It wasn’t smooth sailing for Richard Gere, who just did not grasp the role

It wasn’t a role, it felt like nothing. Like putting a suit on a goat and presenting it, and it would still work,” recalled Gere. Who is now 73 years old. “I just didn’t grasp it.” Despite Marshall’s consideration of actor Charles Grodin, known for his work in “Midnight Run” and “The Heartbreak Kid,” he remained steadfast in his hope to secure Gere for the role.

Read: Julia Roberts’ Daughter Hazel is Growing Up Fast and Looks Just Like Her Mother

“The chemistry between Roberts and Gere was absolutely impeccable,” Marshall reflected

Garry Marshall, a recipient of multiple awards, sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 81. He left behind a legacy of directing iconic films such as “Beaches,” “Runaway Bride” (which also starred Gere and Roberts), “Valentine’s Day,”New Year’s Eve,” and “Mother’s Day.” In addition to his film work, Marshall was the creative force behind TV series like “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” and “Mork & Mindy.

The actors brought such endearing charm and likability that I believed the audience wouldn’t be drawn to a darker conclusion. It didn’t hurt that I adhere to the philosophy of favoring happy endings,” Marshall remarked.

In the context of “Pretty Woman,” the pairing of Gere and Roberts just made sense. Two highly relatable actors. It was essential for the audience to truly embrace the sense of triumph as the characters discovered their “happily ever after.”

Marshall went on to explain how he orchestrated their connection, deliberately bringing the two together and affording them private time in a room. With the hope that their natural rapport would translate onto the screen as genuine co-stars.

Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Runaway Bride
Image Credit: juliaroberts Instagram

Richard Gere’s recollection doesn’t include Marshall’s presence during that moment

“I was so captivated that I don’t recall Garry being there. All I remember is the girl,” Gere reminisced about his encounter with Roberts, now 55 years old. “Even then, I wasn’t certain about taking on this movie. We were getting to know each other, exchanging playful and friendly vibes. She was sitting across the desk. She took a piece of paper, jotted something down, then turned it toward me… ‘Please say yes.‘”

Gere went on to detail that at that very moment. Marshall was on the phone with him, checking in on how their interaction was unfolding. “I exclaimed ‘yes!’” Gere continued, “It was incredibly endearing!” It’s truly impossible to envision “Pretty Woman” without the remarkable pairing of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere! Their presence in the film is simply flawless, and the undeniable chemistry they bring to the screen is what elevates it to a timeless status.

A few facts about Pretty Woman you may not have known

Christopher Reeve, Denzel Washington, and Daniel Day-Lewis were reportedly considered for the role of Edward Lewis.

Reportedly, the role of Edward Lewis in “Pretty Woman” was under consideration by Christopher Reeve, Denzel Washington, and Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s been said that Sandra Bullock, Kristin Davis, and Sarah Jessica Parker were offered the role of Vivian in “Pretty Woman” but declined the opportunity.

The clothing used on set was quite a mix of luxury and bargain bin finds and there were mixed emotions regarding brand imaging

The necklace used in the film was valued at an astonishing $250,000. To ensure its safety, the jewelry store dispatched a security guard to remain by the director’s side throughout the filming process. Whereas the iconic red coat worn by Vivian throughout the film was, surprisingly, a mere $30 jacket. One that the director had acquired from a movie usher he encountered before the filming commenced. Both Ferrari and Porsche declined to have their cars featured in the movie.

A lot of counseling happened behind the scenes

To evoke laughter from Julia Roberts during a particular scene, the director resorted to tickling her feet off-camera. However, the intensity of nerves led Roberts to experience a visible vein bulging from her forehead during the scene. In response, the director joined both Roberts and Richard Gere in bed, and they massaged her forehead until the vein subsided.

Sources

  1. Richard Gere Tries, Fails to Recite His ‘Pretty Woman’ Lines and It’s Devastating.” VH1. Taylor Ferber. March 25, 2015
  2. 19 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “Pretty Woman”.” BuzzFeed. Mackenzie Kruvant. January 12, 2014