When a film is iconic as Pretty Woman, it’s hard to imagine it being any different than the version we all know and love. But, in a new interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Julia Roberts revealed Pretty Woman had a very different ending when she was first cast. In fact, it’s such a far cry from the rags to riches rom-com fans adore that Roberts said of the original script, “Thank God it fell apart.”
The bombshell revelation came by way of a conversation between Roberts and fellow actress Patricia Arquette, with Arquette sharing another little-known fact. “So many, many, many years ago, one of my early auditions was for a movie called 3,000. Most people don’t know that 3,000 was the original Pretty Woman script,” Arquette said, adding, “And the ending was really heavy.”
So, let’s be real: We all have the ending (and every other part) of Pretty Woman memorized — after conquering his fear of heights and meets Vivian on the fire escape, Edwards (Richard Gere) asks, “So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?” To which Vivian (Roberts) replies, “She rescues him right back.” But, as Roberts confirmed to Arquette, the original script did not have a happy ending… at all. Rather, Vivian was thrown “out of the car,” at which point the driver “threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley.”
For shame! Even Roberts admits it was an ill-conceived concept, noting she thinks she “had no business being in a movie like that.” As for how the course of fate for the film changed, Roberts told Arquette that the small movie company behind the original script “folded over the weekend,” leaving Roberts jobless at the time.
In all fairness, it’s unclear exactly how 3,000 was really supposed to end. According to a 2015 article in Vanity Fair, the original script had Vivian and her best friend kit on a bus bound for Disneyland. As Kit excitedly prattles on about a fun day financed by Vivian’s paid-for courtship with Edward, Vivian “stares out emptily ahead.” So, dark, yes. Just not quite as dark as the ending Roberts remembers (which could very well have been on the table at some point in the screenwriting process).
Fortunately, neither of the more morose endings made the final cut. Disney stepped in — which, you know, surprised Roberts given the darkness of the original script. “I thought, ‘Went to Disney? Are they going to animate it?’” she comically recalled. “[Director] Garry Marshall came on, and because he’s a great human being, he felt it would only be fair to meet me, since I had this job for three days and lost it. And they changed the whole thing. And it became more something that is in my wheelhouse.”
What if the first movie company hadn’t dropped out, though? Well, Pretty Woman may have ended up with a different star. “I couldn’t do it then. I couldn’t do it now,” Roberts admitted, adding, “Thank God it fell apart.”