It's hard to imagine anyone but Julia Roberts and Richard Gere starring in Pretty Woman.
And yet, as the actors revealed to Today's Matt Lauer in a pre-taped interview Tuesday, the movie was almost made without them. The co-stars, plus director Garry Marshall and actors Hector Elizondo and Laura San Giacomo, came together for the first time since the romantic comedy was released in 1990.
The original script was neither a romance nor a comedy. Instead, it was a dark, cautionary tale about drug abuse called 3000, a reference to "how much money she got paid," Roberts said of her character, a kind-hearted prostitute named Vivian Ward. "At the end of the original script, Richard's character threw my character out of the car, threw the money on top of her and drove away and the credits rolled."
The script changed after Marshall was brought in and the movie was sold to Disney. "I was cast in 3000, before it went to Garry, and over a happy weekend of having a job, it was sold to Disney and I was out of a job," Roberts recalled. The producers pushed for Marshall to stick with Roberts, who was an up-and-coming star. "I didn't know her from Adam, from anybody," Marshall said. "She was 21 years old. Hello!"
Roberts said she didn't initially impress him. "I came in and he said, 'I don't know what to do with you. Some people say you can't dress her up. Some people say you can't dress her down. What do you do?'"
"You smile," Elizondo said. "That's what you do!"
Marshall said she only lost the part "for a day or so," but Roberts said it "felt quite lost for a few weeks."
Roberts got to keep her role, and she did screen tests "with 10 people," including Charles Grodin.
"It could have been Charles," Gere deadpanned.
Gere was offered the role of businessman Edward Lewis, but he turned it down "a few times." According to him, "There wasn't a part. There was just nothing. The joke was [it was just a suit. You could put a suit on a goat and put it out there, and it would work." Roberts laughed and said, "I don't think that's true."
Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire
Did Marshall bring Roberts to Gere, or vice versa? The actors' memories are fuzzy. "This is so important to me and you're not remembering!" Roberts said. Gere shared the part that he did "remember," saying, "This was important to me: I just remember you sitting across from my desk in my office—my apartment and my office were one and the same at that point." Roberts took over the story from there, saying, "Garry brought me there, and he said, 'Richard, Julia. Julia, Richard. I'll see ya later.' And he walked out."
"I was so mesmerized I don't remember Garry," Gere admitted. "I only remember the girl."
At the time, Marshall excused himself to go to the restroom. When he returned, he noticed the actors' "chemistry" immediately. Gere shared that memory, saying, "We loved each other immediately. It was a nice thing. But to be honest, I didn't know if I was doing this movie yet. She's across from my desk, we're getting to know each other, we're flirty-flirty, nice-nice, it's all going [well], and he calls up and is kind of like, 'How's it going?' And I'm going, 'Yeah, yeah...' She's across from the desk and she takes a piece of paper and she's writing something on it." Roberts interjected to say it was a Post-It, and Gere said, "You remember more than I do. And she turns it around and she pushes it to me and it said, 'Please say yes.'"
"It was so sweet, and after that, it was, 'I just said yes.'"
So, why didn't they make a sequel? "We made a pact a long time [ago], when we did it," Marshall said. "We said, 'We're not doing Pretty Woman 2 unless we all do it together. And we—"
"We're happy to announce ...," Roberts interrupted with a laugh.
After settling down, they both said, "We didn't do it."
How did it feel to reunite with their Pretty Woman family on Today?
"He looks the same," Roberts said of Elizondo. "He's been refrigerated for 25 years."
According to Gere, it felt like "45 years" had passed. "Honestly, it feels like a long time ago," the actor admitted. "But then, as I was saying, that was two marriages ago for me, so a lot of things happened."
To find out which scenes the actors loved most, watch the video now!
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