'Pretty Woman's original ending was harrowingly dark

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman', 1990. (Credit: Buena Vista)
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman', 1990. (Credit: Buena Vista)

Despite some adult themes going on, Pretty Woman, produced by Disney spin-off Touchstone Pictures, was a pretty breezy rom-com.

With Richard Gere's high-powered businessman encountering ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ Vivian (Julia Roberts' Oscar nominated breakthrough role), things really end on a high note.

But it was not always thus.

In a head-to-head interview in Variety between Roberts and True Romance star Patrcia Arquette, who had at one time auditioned for the movie, the actresses discuss the harrowing original ending.

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Conceived as a dark comment on class and sex work, it was initially called 3000, the amount of money that Gere's character Edward spends on a week of Vivian's time.

Speaking about the conclusion, Roberts, who reckons she had ‘no business being in a movie like that’ said: “[Edward] threw her out of the car, threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley.”

“Right. So it really read like a gritty art movie. When you first read it, it was that incarnation,” replies Arquette.

Actress Julia Roberts speaks from the stage during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony honoring actor Denzel Washington at the Dolby Theatre, Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Julia Roberts (Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Roberts, who had recently lost a job after a production company went bust, added: “There was one producer that stayed with the script, and it went to Disney. I thought, ‘Went to Disney? Are they going to animate it?’”

“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.”

Producer and former head of Disney Jeffrey Katzenberg has also spoken about the film's dark original subject matter in the past.

In a 2017 interview with Page Six, he said: “As a script, Pretty Woman was an R-rated movie about a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard. By the way, in the original version - it’s pretty dark - I think she died of an overdose.

“So convincing (people) that we should make that at the Walt Disney Co, and that it’s a fairy tale and a princess movie, a lot of people had a hard time seeing it. But, as they say, the rest is history.”