Julia Roberts’ Three Words that Convinced Richard Gere to Embrace ‘Pretty Woman’ Role Despite Initial Rejection


It’s difficult to envision anyone other than Richard Gere taking on the role of Prince Charming alongside Julia Roberts’ damsel in distress in the contemporary Cinderella tale, “Pretty Woman.” Gere’s portrayal of Edward, conquering his fear of heights to scale the fire escape and rescue Vivian (played by Roberts) from her symbolic tower, left a lasting impact on audiences.

What’s lesser-known is that Charles Grodin was initially a contender for the role of Edward. Surprisingly, it was Roberts who ultimately persuaded Gere to embrace the part in this enduring classic, even though he had reservations about it.

Discover what Roberts did next in the unfolding story.

During a reunion of the cast of the beloved 1990 romantic comedy “Pretty Woman” in 2015, some intriguing revelations came to light. The film featured a 21-year-old Julia Roberts, who had previously appeared in “Mystic Pizza” and “Steel Magnolias,” alongside Richard Gere, an already established sex symbol. Interestingly, the original script carried a darker storyline titled “3000.”

This initial script followed the life of a drug-addicted prostitute, culminating in a scene where she’s discarded from a limousine onto the street, with Edward tossing $3,000 in earnings onto her prone body before driving away. However, the legendary producer and screenwriter Garry Marshall took over as director, and Disney’s involvement transformed the movie into the timeless fairy tale adored by generations.

Gere initially declined the role and turned it down “a few times.”

“It wasn’t a part, it was just nothing. It was a suit, you can put a suit on a goat and put it out there, and it would work,” said Gere, who’s now 73. “I didn’t get it.”

Marshall, who also considered Charles Grodin for the part due to his roles in “Midnight Run” and “The Heartbreak Kid,” continued to hold out hope for Gere. Marshall believed that the chemistry between Roberts and Gere was impeccable, leading to the casting decision.

Garry Marshall, the multi-award-winning director who passed away in 2016 at the age of 81, was renowned for his work on classics such as “Beaches,” “Runaway Bride” (also featuring Gere and Roberts), “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve,” and “Mother’s Day.” His legacy also included iconic TV series like “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” and “Mork & Mindy.”

Marshall’s penchant for happy endings played a pivotal role in reshaping “Pretty Woman.” The endearing and charming qualities that Roberts and Gere brought to their characters convinced him that a darker conclusion wouldn’t resonate with the audience.

The success of “Pretty Woman” hinged on the relatable personas of Gere and Roberts, enabling viewers to relish in their eventual “happily ever after” moment.

Marshall orchestrated their introduction, hoping that their personal connection would translate to on-screen chemistry. Interestingly, Gere’s memory didn’t include Marshall being present during their initial meeting.

Recalling his meeting with Roberts, Gere shared, “I was so mesmerized, I don’t remember Garry, I only remember the girl. I still didn’t know if I was doing this movie. We’re getting to know each other, we’re flirty, flirty…nice, nice…She’s across the desk, she takes a piece of paper, and she’s writing something on it and she turns it around and pushes it to me…‘Please say yes.’”

At the time, Marshall was on the phone, overseeing their interaction. Gere’s response was an enthusiastic “yes!” accompanied by a sense of sweetness.

The combination of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was pivotal for “Pretty Woman.” Their undeniable chemistry elevated the film to a timeless status. Gere’s iconic fire escape scene, where he rescues Roberts’ Vivian, remains etched in memory and holds an enduring charm.

When it comes to “Pretty Woman,” it’s challenging to picture any other actors portraying Edward. The synergy between Gere and Roberts was simply perfect. Is there another actor you could envision as Edward?

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