Tonight: Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the four-star comedy Pretty Woman, the best romantic comedy on prostitution in memory. And it comes from Walt Disney!
Originally intended to be a dark, cautionary tale about class and prostitution in Los Angeles, this motion picture was reconceived as a romantic comedy with a large budget. It was widely successful at the box office, becoming one of the highest moneymakers of 1990.
One ad line read: “She walked off the street, into his life—and stole his heart.” Another read: “Who knew it was so much fun to be a hooker?”
The working title: $3,000!
Considered for the Richard Gere role: Christopher Reeve and John Travolta (who actually auditioned for the part). Actors who turned down the role: Al Pacino, Albert Brooks and Sylvester Stallone.
Actresses who screen-tested for the Julia Roberts role: Geena Davis, Brooke Shields, Diane Lane, Melanie Griffith, Bo Derek, Sandra Bullock, Bridget Fonda, Sharon Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tatum O’Neal, Jodi Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear and Linda Blair.
Actresses who actually turned down the star-making part: Daryl Hannah, Valeria Golino, Meg Ryan and Molly Ringwald.
Roberts’ older brother, Eric Roberts, played the homicidal husband of doomed Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten in STAR 80 (1983).
The opera Gere takes Roberts to in the film is La Traviata, the story of a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy man.
The red coat Roberts wears was purchased for $30 from a movie usher on the street shortly before filming the scene in which it was first used.
In order to make Roberts laugh the way he wanted her to while she watched I Love Lucy on TV, director Garry Marshall tickled her feet out of camera range!
During a lovemaking scene, Roberts became so nervous that a vein on her forehead had become prominent that they had to suspend filming while both Gere and Marshall took turns massaging her forehead until the vein disappeared.
For another lovemaking scene, Roberts broke out in a rash that required calamine lotion to relieve the condition before she could continue shooting.
Principal photography ran from July 24 through October 18, 1989. The picture premiered on March 23, 1990.
Variety stated: “Despite its obvious flaws, Garry Marshall’s sentimental picture hits the right emotional targets to shape up as a monster hit. ... The screenplay owes plenty to Pygmalion, Cinderella and The Owl and the Pussycat in filming a fairy tale of a prostitute with a heart of gold who mellows a stuffy businessman. ... The supporting cast is outstanding.”
A complete escapist fairy tale! A shameless Hollywood concoction! And an immensely popular success!
The film cost a reported $14 million, but it grossed $178 million in the U.S. alone—and $285 million abroad.
Pretty Woman made a major star of Roberts. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
In addition, the screenwriter J.F. Lawton was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award and a BAFTA (British Academy) Award.
So now, from 1990, the hugely popular romantic comedy Pretty Woman.