Pretty Woman is one of the most iconic romantic comedies of the 90’s. Fans couldn’t get enough of the unexpected romance between businessman Edward and escort lover Vivian, but there is much more to Gary Marshall’s creation than meets the eye.
Pretty Woman was almost not Pretty Woman at all. The original title was expected to be $3000, which referred to the price that Vivian and Edward agreed on. We’re happy that they changed it, as Pretty Woman has a classier ring to it.
Despite Vivian’s best friend Kit Deluca having a relatively small role in the film in comparison to Roberts, the actress who played her, Laura San Giacomo, had previously worked with director Gary Marshall and he trusted her completely. She revealed “I remember him giving me room to fill moments, giving a direction and then shouting rolling, no time to think too much, really demonstrating to me how much trust he had in what I would come up with on the spot.”
Pretty Dark Woman
Pretty Woman may have ended up as one of the best romantic comedies out there but the initial ideals of the plot were entirely different. Rather than portraying the movie in a light hearted nature, producers wanted to shed light on the dark truths behind escorts in Los Angeles, presenting all the serious addictions that come along with the occupation. Interestingly, there was an intention to film a scene whereby Vivian would agree to quit using substances for her week with Edward.
Fairy Tale Ending
As it turns out, there was a lot more improvisation in Pretty Woman than expected. In addition, the directors and producers seemed to change a lot of the scenes after watching the playback on what had already been shot. For example, in the scene where Vivian describes her dreams of being a princess, rescued from her tower, the ending of the movie had not been shot yet. The producers decided to work off this and turn it into something real.
All Tied Up
Even the very best of movies suffer from continuity errors and Pretty Woman was no different. In the scene where Vivian is teasing Edward and unties his tie there is a clear blunder when she leaves the room. Upon returning, Edwards tie appears to be completely in tact and tied up. Out of all the errors, this was a pretty easy one to spot, but you can’t get them all when you’re fixed to time on a major film shoot!
Lady In Red
The striking red dress that Vivian donned in the film was almost a completely different color and design. Initially, the studio had requested that the dress be black, but the costume designer, Marilyn Vance had other ideas. Marilyn wanted the dress to be a moment whereby everyone was stunned by Vivian’s beauty, and she did not believe a black dress would blow people away. Vance went on to create three different dresses which all went through test shoots, but in the end, Marilyn’s red gown won.
Familiar Story Line
No one can forget that iconic scene in Pretty Woman set with the backdrop of the opera. Ironically, the opera that Edward chose to take Vivian to directly reflects the storyline of Pretty Woman. The opera was called La Traviata and the story line follows a ‘woman of the night’ who falls in love with a very wealthy man. The research team on the movie did a great job in adding in these little clues which related back to the movie.
For many fans, Richard Gere was the perfect choice to play Edward with his charm and handsome looks. However, there were also a number of other famous actors hopeful to land the coveted role including Daniel Day-Lewis, Christopher Reeve, and Denzel Washington. All three of them auditioned for the part but ultimately, the casting director and producers decided that Gere was the perfect choice. Lucky they chose him, his on screen chemistry with Julia Roberts was undeniable.
As it turns out, Richard Gere presented more than one of his talents on the screen. While it is widely recognized that he is a respected actor, many people were unaware that he has a gift for playing piano. Subsequently, the music that he plays in the piano scene in Pretty Woman was created by Gere himself. While we’re not sure if producers tested actors on their piano skills when auditioning for the movie, it sure was useful that Gere presented another one of his talents.
You’re So Vein
For any actor, shooting an intimate scene can be quite intimidating and nerve-wracking. From baring it all to having the entire production and crew watching you, not to mention the actual acting, it is a tense moment for any actor. Julia Roberts was not exempt to this and she was so nervous about the scene that a vein popped out of her forehead! Director Gary Marshall was forced to step in and massage Robert’s head until the vein went down.
Despite the casting directors and producers shunning many other actors to choose Richard Gere for the role of Edward, the actor wasn’t so thrilled about the role. In fact, he wanted to pass it up and reject the offer but there was a certain someone who convinced him otherwise. Gere happened to be on the phone with the producer while he was with Julia Roberts who passed him a note that read “please say yes.” Richard immediately accepted the offer.
During the scene of the film where Vivian lies on Edward’s rug in the penthouse of the hotel, watching I Love Lucy episodes, Roberts needed a little bit of assistance to get the laughter out of her. Director Gary Marshall wanted to see a genuine chuckle so took matters into his own hands and proceeded to tickle her feet. Marshall clearly did not know how ticklish the actress was and almost immediately, Roberts began to roar with laughter.
Everyone remembers that huge bubble bath that Vivian was thoroughly enjoying, while rocking out to her music. Although it looked like an absolute blast, the aftermath was somewhat of a disaster. As it turned out, the crew used so much detergent to attain the huge bubbles that the dye began to bleed Robert’s hair color. The situation was rather embarrassing for everyone and the actress was forced to have her hair recolored that same day. We hope the crew picked up the check!
Julia Robert’s character Vivian rocked some outrageous outfits in the movie, as well as some incredibly expensive ones. The shopping spree on Rodeo Drive is one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time, but there was one outfit that certainly wasn’t picked up on the super expensive, Beverly Hills road. The red vintage blazer was an absolute bargain for the costume department. They managed to pick it up for a bargain at $30 just before filming started.
Despite being the famous La La Land, the city of movies, Beverly Hills has many laws on filming in and around the city. Due to much of the film being shot there, the filming schedule had to work in accordance with their permits which stated they could only film on Rodeo Drive on a Sunday. This caused quite the hassle and Roberts was forced to nail her performance so that a re-shoot on the famous street was not required.
There were some other things that created quite the shake up in filming. One of which was the location of the film shoot. The opera scene was due to be shot in San Francisco, but unfortunately, there was an unexpected earthquake right before filming. The producers got into a last minute panic due to the importance of the scene but after scouting locations almost immediately, they managed to relocate to the history museum situated by USC.
In most movies you see today, any branded products from smartphones to make up and cars are all product placement and brands pay big money for it. However, in the 90’s product placement was not as big as it is today and although it may be a surprise, the Lotus car that Edwards picks Vivian up in belonged to the movie producer Nancy Gross. Gross’ generous offer was an important point in the film and allowed viewers to understand Edward’s wealth and prominence.
You would never know the difference as it’s impossible for the naked eye to see, but the Pretty Woman official movie poster doesn’t even show Julia Robert’s real body. Instead, Robert’s face was superimposed onto her body double, Shelley Michelle’s figure. Moreover, the deceiving doesn’t stop there as the photo shoppers decided to make Richard Gere’s hair black, but in the movie it is completely grey throughout. While the reason why this happened is a mystery, we can’t help but feel that it makes it inauthentic.
Demi Said No
Although Pretty Woman went on to see huge success in the box office, it seems that it took a lot of convincing from directors and producers to sign big names on to the movie. The beautiful Demi Moore was called upon to play the part of Kit, but instead of jumping at the chance, she politely declined the offer. While there is not a specific reason why she declined, she was probably kicking herself when she saw what a success it was.
Some actors are just born to play their characters and take on the mindset of the personality as much as possible. This was the case for Philip Stuckey and he took his villainous character to the next level with his aggression. In the scene where Stuckey slammed the car door, he hit it with such intent and force that it managed to shatter the windows! The shoot had to be postponed until the new windows were put into the car.
Tongue In Cheek
There was a real reason behind Richard Gere’s tongue movements when reprimanding Philip Stuckey in the penthouse suite. Gere had walked in on Stuckey trying to make a move on Vivian and was appalled at what he witnessed. While yelling at Stuckey and firing him on the spot, Gere’s crown molar actually came off during the scene! The acting was in the moment and Gere had no intention of calling cut, he just pushed through.
Richard Gere had always been at the top of his game in acting and his role in Pretty Woman was no different. Initially, Gere would move around a lot during his scenes until the director, Gary Marshall told him to do the exact opposite. Marshall’s words were “No, no, no. Richard. In this movie, one of you moves. And one of you doesn’t. Guess which one you are?” Gere took on the constructive criticism and adapted to it.
Drew Barrymore Was Too Young
There were a number of actresses who wanted to play Vivian, including Drew Barrymore, who was just 15-years-old when she expressed an interest in auditioning for the role. Barrymore was known as a child star, appearing as the adorable little girl in ET, but the pressures of the industry became too much for her and she struggled with addictions. Due to her understanding of that side of the film, she wanted the part, but director Gary Marshall said she was too young.
In most cases, luxury brands would jump at the chance to be placed in box office hit movies. However, this was not the case in Pretty Woman and when producers offered deals Ferrari and Porsche to appear in the movie they both declined. The reason was because they didn’t want their brands to be associated with picking up women on the street. It was their loss in the end, they probably would have seen a lot more business if they had signed the deal.
Gary Marshall was so much more than a director. He was incredibly hands on in the film which is what makes him such a respected director. Marshall proved that whenever something was needed, he would single handedly get it done. In the scene where Edward asks for directions from a homeless man, that homeless man was acted by Marshall. Instead of bringing in one of many offers of extras they had at their palms, he decided to step in and do it himself.
One Script, Five Writers
As previously mentioned, the rights for the film belonged to Disney, but they needed to employ a director and script writers. After producers agreed on Gary Marshall as the director, Marshall understood the importance of the movie and how they needed to make it powerful and realistic for audiences. From this, a total of five writers were hired to perfect the script for Pretty Woman, each chipping in with brilliant ideas which reworked the iconic film as we know it today.
Al Pacino Was Too Busy
Richard Gere nailed the part of Edward in the movie, but one other big name who was desired for the role was Al Pacino. Producers approached Pacino about the role on numerous occasions but each time he was asked, he claimed that he was too busy. Gary Marshall who was desperate to work with Al Pacino on the film, but once he got the hint that Pacino wouldn’t do it, Marshall decided to hire him for his next movie Frankie and Johnny.
Marshall’s Good Luck Charm
Gary Marshall made some pretty instrumental decisions in making Pretty Woman. One of these decisions came in the form of hiring Hector Elizondo as the role of the hotel manager, who Marshall considered his good luck charm. However, Disney weren’t as convinced and refused to bow to Hector’s salary demands. However, Marshall was so insistent that he paid Elizondo the rest of his salary out of his own pocket. Disney later reimbursed Marshall when they realized the integral role he portrayed.
Head Under Water
As it turns out, Marshall was also quite the prankster as well as being a great director. One of his best pranks on the set of Pretty Woman was when Julia Roberts was filming her bubble bath scene. Upon Vivian ducking her head under all of the bubbles in the bathtub, Marshall had the entire film crew evacuate the set as fast as they could. When Roberts finally emerged from the water, she was completely alone on the set.
Underfed And Overworked
Despite all the catering provided for cast and crew on set, it is not uncommon for many actors to have such a packed schedule that they simply don’t have time to eat. On the set, Julia Roberts had only eaten one avocado in two whole days of filming. The extreme hunger and lack of energy caught up with the actress and she began to feel ill and then fainted. Marshall quickly rushed to the scene, opened a can of tuna fish and started feeding Roberts.
The Final Scene Was Shot Nine Times!
There are times when actors need to nail scenes, but often on these occasions, they are prevented from doing so for one reason or another. In the final scene on the fire escape, it had to be reshot nine times due to Gere’s suit continuously getting dirty from climbing up there. Not only that, Julia Robert’s shoes kept slipping off, there was opera music blasting and in addition, there were pigeons flying around everywhere!
Pretty Woman Sequel
After the huge box office success of the movie, fans began calling for a sequel. However, not everyone was totally on board and the actors took some convincing, especially Richard Gere. However, the defining moment for the actor was when he was speaking to a Monk in a cave in Tiber, the Monk questioned “When are you going to make Pretty Woman 2?” It was at this point that Buddhist Gere knew he had to do it. In 1999, the follow up rom com Runaway Bride was born.
Massive Money Maker
The success of Pretty Woman was most evident in the numbers. The romantic comedy exceeded all expectations and took in a huge $178 million at the North American box office. Furthermore, it raked in a whopping $285 million overseas, adding up to an impressive $463 million worldwide. Considering the movie’s budget was capped at $14 million, the film studio deemed it a huge success that was completely unexpected. Roberts and Gere ended up being a dream team, money making machine.
Gary Marshall proved to be the best choice in director they could have had on the movie. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that another director came forward and said that he was also offered the opportunity. Famed director Werner Herzog revealed in an interview that Richard Gere came to him with the prospect of directing the movie Gere was starring in. Herzog declined the offer and the position went to Marshall. We can’t help but think a “big mistake, big, huge!”
The Pretty Woman Experience
Due to much of the film being shot in Beverly Hills, at the time of the film’s release, fans were flocking to the sets of Pretty Woman. The hotel in the movie, The Beverly Wilshere, decided to capitalize upon it’s newfound fame through inventing a Pretty Woman experience. Everything from a VIP tour of Rodeo Drive to a couples massage in the spa is included. The hotel thought up every last detail, but it comes at a cost of $100,000.
The Best Location Money Could Buy
Beverly Hills might boast some of the most luxurious and expensive hotels in the world, but production was severely restricted where they could and couldn’t film. In the majority of cases, especially in Los Angeles, money talks, but there was no budging for some hotels when approached to film the movie there. In the end, the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel was amongst the only hotels which would allow production to film the interior and exterior shots.
The Shopping Scene Wasn’t Cut
There was one scene in the original script which made it into the movie following numerous rewrites. It was the scene where Vivian walks into an expensive Beverly Hills boutique, after Edward had given her money to go shopping and the shop assistants take one look at her and refuse to give her service. They simply assume from her skimpy clothing that she cannot afford it and encourage her to leave the store.
As previously mentioned, the majority of production was filmed on set in Beverly Hills. Production wanted to make it as authentic as possible so they chose to film in the location, rather than building a set in a sound stage. In the movie’s restaurant scene, they opted to film in a real eatery in downtown Los Angeles. They named it Voltaire in the movie but in real life, it is called Cicada. Interestingly, it had also been used in films including Bruce Almighty and Indecent Proposal.
Another famous scene is in the restaurant when Vivian tries escargot for the first time. She goes to pick it up and then flings it across the room into the hands of the waiter. At this time, the waiter responds “It happens all the time” and the line became so famous that director, Gary Marshall decided to reuse it. In his 2001 film Princess Diaries, Princess Mia does the exact same thing, Marshall even cast the same actor for the waiter and gave him the same line.
The Truth Behind Vivian’s Southern Drawl
The director thought up a lot of creative ways to cover any slip ups in the film. One of which was when Vivian mentions that she’s originally from Georgia, and while in the elevator, proceeds to say in the accent “well, color me happy!” In fact, the line was added by Gary Marshall as Roberts was originally from the southern state and he wanted to cover up and accent slip ups she may have had in the movie.
Ralph Bellamy’s Last Film
Pretty Woman became a special movie for many fans of Ralph Bellamy. The legendary actor appeared in the film right before he passed away at the age of 87 in November, 1991. Bellamy’s career spanned over 62 years on stage and on the big screen, he even earned himself an Academy Award nomination and an Emmy nomination. The actor made a lasting impression on the cast and crew as he took up his last role in Pretty Woman.
Following the release of Pretty Woman, it seemed that the cast of the film couldn’t stay away from each other. Roberts and Gere famously appeared opposite each other in Runaway Bride as the follow up to Pretty Woman, but this was not the end of it. Julia Roberts, Hank Azaria, and Larry Hankin all took up guest starring roles in popular sitcom Friends. Unfortunately, they all appeared in different episodes so a Pretty Woman reunion wasn’t going to happen.
It’s Not Just Our Favorite Movie
The success of Pretty Woman was completely unexpected and unprecedented. Fans around the world flocked in their thousands to go and see it on the big screen, but the film also attracted some famous faces. Celebrities including pop princess Britney Spears and teen star Miranda Cosgrove both admitted that the Julia Robert’s classic was one of their favorite films to watch. Sometimes it really does seem as though celebrities are just like us!
John Travolta Vs. Richard Gere
John Travolta is known as one of the best actors in Hollywood, appearing in some incredibly successful movies, but it seems that his judgement isn’t as great as his acting. As it turns out, Travolta turned down the role of Edward in Pretty Woman as he did not believe it would be a successful movie. In addition, he also turned down Richard Gere’s role in American Gigolo, which also became a huge international success.
A Little Bit Of Shakespeare
There are small parts of Pretty Woman that perhaps only the fans who have watched it 100 times over would notice. While there were many famous references in the movie, one which stood out was the incorporation of the work of William Shakespeare in the film. In the scene where Edward takes Vivian to the park he chooses a Shakespeare sonnet to read to her. As if the scene wasn’t romantic enough already, trust Shakespeare to take it to the next level.
The Spanish Love The Film
Pretty Woman is one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time and although we have seen the box office figures in their millions, it is also impressive to see the success of it in each individual country. For example, in Spain, it is the most successful film which has ever been screened. The film has rerun over 19 times in theaters and it seems the Spanish have a real passion for it.
The script of Pretty Woman took long hours to change and perfect. Months of hard work went into it and many different writers contributed to the reworking of it. However, the original script was created by notable writers including Robert Garland, Stephen Metcalfe, and Barbara Benedek. After they had worked out the general idea of the film, the producers brought in more writers to work on certain scenes and make it the smash hit it is today.
Famous Vivian Hopefulls
Julia Roberts was absolutely perfect in the role of Vivian, giving the right amount of attitude all while gaining sympathy from audiences. However, Roberts was not the only actress in run for the coveted role. In fact, other notable actresses including Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Madonna, Kristin Davis, and Sarah Jessica Parker were just some of the famous actresses who were considered for taking on the role of Vivian. Producers went for the best choice in our opinion.
Due to the risqué nature of the film and the occupation of Vivian, it was no surprise that Julia Roberts was required to bare it all for some of the love scenes. However, the requirement did not extend to Richard Gere and he was allowed to keep his clothes on. Despite this, Gere thought it would be funny to remove his clothes anyway wand walk around set in the nude in order to shock the cast and crew.
All Round Success
It wasn’t just the movie itself that became a huge success, it was also the soundtrack which became a smash hit. The album to the film went triple platinum, selling over three million copies and included songs including Roxette’s ballad ‘It Must Have Been Love’ which also topped the Billboard charts in the month it was released. In addition, the film also included Roy Orbison’s 1964 song ‘Oh, Pretty Woman,’ of which the film was named after and drew inspiration from.
In the famous scene where Edward presents Vivian with the diamond and ruby necklace, the director wanted it to look as real as possible, so he opted to use real gems rather than a fake prop. In fact, the necklace used in the scene was valued at a whopping $250,000 and was loaned from a famous jewelry store. However, the store was so paranoid about the whereabouts of the incredibly expensive necklace that they sent a guard along with it to stand on set the entire time.
Made In Disney
Although it might be surprising to hear, given the nature and morals of the film, but Pretty Woman was actually produced by Disney. In a sense, you can interpret the movie to be a different kind of adult love story, and this was the intention and instruction of then-president Jeffrey Katzenberg. He insisted on turning it into a modern-romance rather than a dark and twisted one. Having said that, Kit’s Cinderella reference seems to add up now.
In 2017, it was announced that Pretty Woman would be turned into a Broadway musical and would debut in the fall of 2018. Gary Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton wrote the musical to stay as true to the film as possible. In addition, producer Paula Wagner stated “Pretty Woman: The Musical will have the heart, humor, warmth and joy of the film.” She added that Gary Marshall was going to give fans of the film an update since its 1990 release date.
We already revealed that the finale was shot a number of different times, but what you didn’t know was that the alternate ending was extremely dark. According to Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, Vivian was due to die from an overdose instead of the happy ending. Katzenberg revealed that the depressing ending was seriously thought over, explaining “I can’t tell you how much time was spent debating.” We’re happy that they decided to go with the happily ever after.
Pretty Woman’s success was very surprising to everyone involved in the film, so when it came to shooting they weren’t given a huge budget. Marshall revealed when shooting in Hollywood “it wasn’t so polished up. It was a little seedier. I had to shoot it fast. We didn’t have a big budget to shoot there.” Moreover, in an attempt to not stretch the budget, production used the streetlights as the lighting in the scenes instead of paying for studio lights.
Steven Seagal Left Production
With all the reworking of the script, there was much room left for the changing of actors in adapting to the specific roles. Initially, the film was supposed to contain much more action, so Steven Seagal was cast to play Edward as an appropriate choice. However, when the script and direction of the film was changed, Seagal was said to have hated the new script and quit the job. Lucky he did because Richard Gere made the perfect Edward.
There are some continuity errors which are too good that all you can do is laugh. In the scene where Vivian is having breakfast in Edward’s penthouse hotel suite, she appears to be enjoying a delicious croissant. However, when the angle cuts, the croissant has miraculously transformed into a pancake. Maybe it’s our mistake and she was indulging in a carb-filled breakfast? Either way, the breakfast looks delicious and Vivian looked to be thoroughly enjoying it.
Playing With Diamonds
That incredible moment when Edward presents Vivian with a stunning diamond and ruby necklace will never be forgotten. Upon being presented with it, Vivian goes to take the necklace, but in an instant, Edward pulls it back and snaps it shut. Robert’s was so startled by the moment that she burst out laughing. As it turns out, Gere decided to improvise and play a practical joke on the actress. The moment was too good not to have made the final cut of the movie.
We Want Moore
When Pretty Woman was released in 1990, one of the most in demand actresses during that time was the beautiful Demi Moore. The producers of the movie decided that the role of Kit Deluca would have been perfect for Moore, but when she was approached, she declined the offer immediately. While there was no explanation why she turned it down, the choice of Laura San Giacomo was perfect and she was said to have worked seamlessly with the other actors and director.