Pretty Woman changed the lives of all involved when it debuted almost 20 years ago. Director Garry Marshall was brought an enormous hit while star Julia Roberts became a superstar and Richard Gere got a long sought-after comeback.
Pretty in Blu
With Pretty Woman arriving on Blu-ray this week, Garry Marshall was able to go back through his romantic comedy classic and rediscover what it was about the film that it became an entertainment cultural icon.
Marshall, beyond his work on Pretty Woman, has been a director, writer and performer in Hollywood for decades. Serving as the creative force behind Happy Days, Marshall turned his eye to the big screen and announced his arrival to audiences with uproariously funny hits.
SheKnows: Anytime there is an anniversary or a new edition of a film, is it a joy once again for you to look at this great film Pretty Woman?
Garry Marshall: Yes, it is, and because I’m in the director’s guild and the director’s guild has rules so you do get to watch every part of any new release. Forever, you can watch every incarnation of the film (laughs). So I sat and watched the whole film again, which was I haven’t done in a while. It’s really pretty in this Blu-ray. If it’s possible, Julia’s smile is even better on the Blu-ray.
SheKnows: There are so many scenes in that film where the colors are vibrant – Julia’s red dress or the polo scene. Having that vibrancy, particularly as the man who is responsible for the vision, that must have tickled you?
Garry Marshall: It was – the polo match was quite good. The red dress looks absolutely gorgeous. Marilyn Striker was the costumer and she did it so well, they made her a producer on her next film.
SheKnows: I have to say, the costumes have dated very well.
Garry Marshall: No, I don’t think so either. The brown, polka-dot dress looks good.
SheKnows: Fantastic! Now, Julia had only done a few films when you met her. What was it about Miss Julia that you had to have her to be your Pretty Woman?
Garry Marshall: She had done Mystic Pizza. She did not have the credits that made her right for my film. But, after meeting her – in those days we screen tested (laughs) – and she popped off the screen. Not so much in person. She seemed like a nice, smart, pretty girl. Once she got a camera on her, boy did she pop off.
SheKnows: Lit up!
Garry Marshall: She did light it up. She was funny. She was comfortable with my physical stuff and she was very comfortable with that. She had that free spirit thing that I liked and no one really knew who she was really. In Steel Magnolias she cried a lot (laughs). But nobody saw her do funny.
SheKnows: And God bless you for discovering that because she’s had quite fun with that skill ever since.
Garry Marshall: Yes, she’s doing well. I actually saw her recently.
SheKnows: How are the twins?
Garry Marshall: The kids are great. She’s quite a mom.
SheKnows: Also, we can’t talk about Pretty Woman and not discuss Richard Gere in the movie that proved to be a comeback. Their chemistry was incredible. You paired again with Runaway Bride. What did you see with Gere and Roberts?
Romantic comedy secrets
Garry Marshall: They, I tell you, I do a lot of romantic comedies. One of the keys to romantic comedies is it really helps if you can kiss well (laughs). Make it honest and sincere. Richard and Julia had that chemistry that they could do that. We had made a pact after Pretty Woman that, we didn’t expect it to be such a hit, but we made a pact that if we did something, we’d do it all together. I remember the phone call, my wife said ‘Richard and Julia are on the phone, must be important.’ (Laughs) They said we got a script called Runaway Bride. Recently, I have a project now with Richard Gere – Julia is not quite right for the part, but I remember we went over the script and Richard and I look at each other and said ‘if we don’t call Julia and ask her to be in it, she’s going to be mad (laughs). I called her and we sent her the script and I went to see her about it and she said, ‘you know, if you guys did something and I didn’t get called and I read about it, I would have been mad.’ I said that’s why we called. She’s not going to be in it, but she was glad to be a part of it. Pretty Woman really helped all three of our careers!
SheKnows: It certainly did, on many levels, for you? You have this Midas touch with comedy, romantic comedy and you yourself have written – a distinguished career as a writer, what do you see in a script that makes you want to tackle it as director?
Garry Marshall: I always like an ending. In romantic comedy, there always has to be a run towards each other in a field. That’s been done too much, and most romantic comedies are predictable. Then, you are really obligated to make it interesting during the journey. It’s not so much the writing, if it’s Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, you think they’re going to fall in love (laughs). It’s something that I got an ending that I think is rewarding and is also has a journey where you don’t quite know where you’re going. Most times, I look to see if I can make it funny. Where I try and sometimes succeed, is where I make it funny and charming at the same time.
SheKnows: You as an actor, someone who has appeared in films, you have a busy schedule, what is it about the films that you have appeared in that you wanted to be a part of them?
Garry Marshall: It’s usually involved with people I know. On Pretty Woman I had to bring in another editor because people were rushing to get it out. I brought in an editor named Raja Gosnell who was really too big for the job. But, he came in and did and did it for me with Percilla Nedd. That really helped us and years later he was doing Never Been Kissed as director and he called me and said (laughs) ‘I need you to come and be in my picture.’ Sure, I’ll be in your picture. Sometimes, it’s just old friends. I just did one called Race to Witch Mountain with The Rock!
SheKnows: Yes! I remember the originals.
Garry Marshall: Again, Andy Fickman is an old friend. His fiance, Christie Laiken is in a lot shows at my theater, the Falcon Theatre. It was fun, we shot a lot of it in Vegas. I knew everybody. It was a good job. I like to act because I think it makes me a better director to go through all the things an actor goes through. It is a combination of things – acting and directing are very similar. Most directors love to hire another director because the other director knows what he’s going through and shuts up and does the job (laughs).