Thursday 14 November 2019

We all wanted the fairytale: here's 25 things you never knew about 'Pretty Woman'

Released 25 years ago this week, 'Pretty Woman' was a rom-com with a novel twist. Tanya Sweeney pays tribute

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

Can you believe it's been a quarter of a century since Julia Roberts slapped on a pair of vinyl thigh-highs and Richard Gere shuffled up a fire escape with a rose between his teeth? A lot has happened since the release of Pretty Woman 25 years ago, but the film about a happy-go-lucky prostitute and her uptight client changed the course of the rom-com, for better or worse.

Its place in the cinematic canon is assured, but plenty went on behind the scenes that most of us had little idea of. Until now, that is…

1 This turned out to be Julia Robert's breakthrough role, but it very nearly wasn't to be. Sandra Bullock turned down the part first, as did Molly Ringwald. Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone and Madonna were all reportedly considered before the role went to then relative unknown Roberts.

2 Winona Ryder and Drew Barrymore also petitioned for the part of Vivian, but were all turned down on account of their age.

3 Roberts very nearly ended up playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, who was considered for the role of Edward. Al Pacino also turned down the role after a screen test.

4Ferrari and Porsche initially refused to let their cars be used in the making of the film.

5Those aren't Julia's impossibly long legs on the film poster; rather, they belong to body double Shelly Michelle.

6The film was meant to be much darker; Vivian was originally suppsoed to be a drug addict who had to keep clean during her week with Edward.

7Continuity alert: in the breakfast scene, Vivian eats a croissant as she talks business with Edward. The camera cuts back to her a second later and she's eating a pancake. Maybe she was just really hungry.

8When Edward plays the hotel piano, no stunt double was needed because Gere is a proficient piano player. In fact, he played one of his own compositions. A man of many talents.

9Originally, the film was scripted to end with Vivian and her friend Kit heading off on the bus to Disneyland. Imagine.

10 Director Garry Marshall is fond of using the same actors; Roberts, Gere, Hector Elizondo and Kathleen Marshall all ended up in his 1999 film Runaway Bride. Then they all, bar Gere, appeared in his film Valentine's Day.

11Yes, Kathleen Marshall is Marshall's daughter - she played a desk clerk at the Beverly Wilshire.

12The film was actually shot at the Ambassador, not the Wilshire. The real Beverly Wilshire used to be an Auto Speedway where cars raced back in the day.

13The week that Pretty Woman was released, Roberts broke up with fellow actor Dylan McDermott and then started seeing Kiefer Sutherland.

14 Simpsons star Hank Azaria played a cop in the opening scenes of the film and it was one of his first ever film roles.

15Garry Marshall managed to shoehorn himself into Pretty Woman, too: he is the homeless man who is rummaging about in the bins that Edward asks for directions when he gets lost on the strip. ("that's Sylvester Stallone's house!")

16In a case of being rather dedicated to the cause, Gere had a crown knocked off one of his teeth during the scene where he fires his lawyer Stuckey (who was played by Jason Alexander).

17The moment Gere shuts the jewellery box on Julia's hand was completely improvised, but so cute that director Marshall left it in. The scene was filmed the day after Robert's 21st birthday.

18Vivian's hysterical laughter as she watches I Love Lucy was achieved by director Marshall tickling the actress's feet off-camera.

19As a newcomer, Roberts was so terrified of doing sex scenes that a vein would pop on her forehead in the middle of shooting, which prompted Marshall to get into the bed with her and calm her down.

20Pretty Woman was released by Disney, therefore making Vivian an unlikely Disney Princess.

21To prepare for the role, Roberts spent a week hanging out with clients at the free clinic (a health care facility for disadvantaged patients) in downtown LA.

22Another plot in the script that never made it to the final cut: Kit was supposed to have OD'd.

23The film was originally titled $3,000 (on account of the amount of money Vivian earns for her week), but was later changed when test audiences were confused.

24Roberts brought her dog on to the set, and caused a fracas as it kept barking during the shooting.

25The red jacket Vivian wears on the night she picks up Edward was a last-minute thing; the jacket belonged to a cinema usher, who was paid handsomely (okay, $30) to part with it.

Irish Independent

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