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Pretty Woman Secrets That Make The Movie Even Better

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When Pretty Woman hit theaters in 1990, it became an instant hit and fans couldn’t get enough of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere as Edward and Vivian play out their love affair in the lavish surroundings of Beverly Hills.

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The romantic comedy went down in history as one of the greats, launching Julia Roberts to stardom as one of her most memorable movies to date. Even if you consider yourself a die-hard fan, there’s no way you would have known these extra secrets about the movie.

No More Roberts

Julia Roberts was initially cast as Vivian, but when the rights to the movie were sold off to Disney, Roberts was out of the role due to a change in executive decisions.

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However, things were put back to how they were before with Julia Roberts in the leading role when director Garry Marshall was put in charge. He insisted he wanted to revert to the original cast and saw something in her that would make the movie a hit.

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An unplanned scene

Some of the best scenes in movies are the ones that are totally unplanned and that is exactly what happened with Pretty Woman. The scene where Edward Lewis presents Vivian Ward with a diamond necklace for the opera and then slams the box shut was totally unplanned.

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Gere thought up the idea himself and waited for Julia Roberts reaction. Of course, Roberts let out a huge laugh and it was one of the best scenes in the movie.

That snails scene

Edward’s world was all very new to Vivian and one of the scenes which depicted this is when Vivian tried escargot for the first time. Snails aren’t one of the easiest dishes to eat so when Vivian tries to eat it it slips out her hands and the waiter catches it.

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He turns to Vivian and says “it happens all the time”. Garry Marshall decided to recreate this scene in his later film, The Princess Diaries, when Mia Thermopolis breaks the champagne glass and the same waiter from Pretty Woman reuses his now infamous line.

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Streetwalker style

Vivian’s outfit of the mini dress, thigh high boots, blonde wig and red jacket became synonymous with her character. Despite this costume going down in history, it almost didn’t exist when the costume department didn’t have the jacket mentioned in the script.

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The crew then had to scramble to find a jacket for Julia Roberts so they ended up walking down the street, and finding a girl with a red jacket which they exchanged for $30 in cash. 

Perks of the movie

Julia Roberts was asked what her favorite scene from the movie was. She divulged that she loved the part where she drove the expensive car down Hollywood Boulevard, explaining “I don’t know, driving around in the car in Hollywood was pretty hilarious”.

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At just 21-years-old, Julia admitted she didn’t know how to drive a car that well, but Garry Marshall was still on board for her to do it. He explained later on that Roberts hit the gas and cameramen could barely keep up.

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Beefed up security

The stunning diamond necklace that is seen in the movie wasn’t just a prop. The necklace was custom made by French jeweler Fred Joaillier and was worth a whopping $250,000.

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Instead of just being sent to the set, the necklace was escorted by a security guard who kept an eye on it the entire time it was being used. Throughout the time it left the jewelry store to the time on set, the necklace was never left alone. 

That bathtub prank

In one of the classic scenes of the movie, Vivian is belting out hits from Prince when Edward walks in to have a discussion with her. He came in to talk about how much money he would be paying Vivian and when she heard the amount, she dunked herself underwater in a moment of overwhelming excitement.

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In a hilarious moment on set, Richard Gere, Garry Marshall and the rest of the crew decided to run out of the room when Julia Roberts dunked underwater, so when she came back up, no one was there!

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Overwhelming nerves

After reading the script it was very obvious that there would be a number of different love scenes in the movie. However, when it actually came to fruition on set, Julia Roberts was incredibly nervous to film each scene, so much so that a vein popped out of her forehead.

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At this point, everything had to be stopped on set and Julia Roberts’ head had to be massaged, by which time she broke out in hives. Needless to say it took up quite some time. 

Piano man

In the scene where Richard Gere’s character Edward plays the piano in the hotel, production didn’t need to bring in a pianist to film the scene. It turned out that Richard Gere was incredibly talented when it came to music and he was a talented pianist.

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Not only that, but Gere actually composed the same song that he played in the scene. His incredible musical talents came from his younger years and he played the trumpet in high school.

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Fake fighting, right?

In the scene where Edward was fighting with his lawyer Philip Stuckey, the two were briefed beforehand by stunts on how to make it look as real as possible.

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However, when it came to actually filming the scene, the two went a little bit more rough than expected and it got quite intense to the point that Richard Gere actually knocked a crown on his tooth loose. Perhaps the two actors were hiding some real resentment towards each other? 

Worldwide success

When Disney bought the movie in a last minute move, they could never have predicted the mass worldwide success of the movie. At this time, Julia Roberts was still a very young up and coming actress but the film exceeded all expectations and made a whopping $464 million at the box office.

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The film was also well received by critics and became one of the most successful and well-known romantic comedies to date. After this, Julia Roberts was thrust into the spotlight and became one of the highest paid actresses.

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Hidden opera meanings

When Edward takes Vivian to the opera, they see the Italian La Traviata. Ironically, the opera was about a man who falls in love with a lady of the night, almost a mirror of what happens in Pretty Woman.

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However, the opera ends in heartbreak when the woman in question dies and her lover is devastated. As we know, Pretty Woman has a Cinderella ending and Vivian and Edward live happily ever after, it was a Disney movie after all.

The real set

Pretty Woman was filmed in different locations around the upscale Beverly Hills as well as in film studios in Los Angeles. The only hotel that would allow shooting both inside and outside was the Regent Beverly Wilshere Hotel, so that was used for the majority of the film.

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Additional scenes were shot at the nearby Ambassador Hotel which ended up being demolished in 2005. The fancy restaurant called The Voltaire in the film is real and actually called Cicada. 

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A very different ending

In true romantic comedy style, Pretty Woman ends with Edward running after Vivian and they reunite on her balcony. However, the original script written by J.F. Lawton was called 3000, it wasn’t a love story and it definitely didn’t have a happy ending.

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Instead, the story was about two very disturbed and damaged individuals who spent an intense week together which culminated in a sad ending with plenty of tears and no happily ever after. 

The red dress

That famous red dress that Vivian wore to the opera was almost never red. There ended up being a dispute between the studio, producers and the costume designer of the film as they wanted Julia Roberts’ character to wear a black dress.

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Costume designer Marilyn Vance-Straker eventually won the argument after plenty of screen testing and the red dress became an iconic moment in the movie. There’s no way that a black gown would have had nearly the same effect as that striking dress. 

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It would’ve been a big mistake, huge!

While the screenplay and premise of the movie was changed a number of different times, there was one famous scene that stayed in the script throughout.

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The famous scene where Vivian shops on Rodeo Drive and a rude saleswoman at the Beverly Hills boutique refuses to sell her anything was always an important part of the movie. It even kept the part when she returned to show off her successful shopping trip, but left out that famous line, “big mistake, huge!”

Hair color mishap

In the bathtub scene, bottles of laundry detergent were used to create all of the bubbles, but the detergent was so strong it had another unexpected effect. Julia Roberts’ red hair color started to fade from all of the chemicals and having to dunk herself under the water so many times.

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The night after shooting the scene, the actress was forced to re-dye her hair to what it was before. Perhaps they should have stuck to natural bubble bath! 

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Character chemistry

Richard Gere was reluctant to sign onto the film as he wasn’t overly enthused by his character of Edward. However, one of the biggest reasons Gere decided to sign on in the end was because of Julia Roberts.

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When the two met for the first time in New York, Gere was smitten with young Roberts and they immediately had an undeniable chemistry. It was this chemistry that translated on-screen so well and made the two genuinely look like they were in love in the movie. 

Julia’s body double

Julia Roberts truly looked incredibly in Pretty Woman. Despite some questionable outfit choices from her character Vivian, Roberts managed to make them all look great. However, in the posters for the movie, a body double was used and Julia Roberts’ face was superimposed onto it.

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The original photograph was a picture of Donna Scoggins’ legs that producers thought would work well in the promotional shots. In the movie, body double Shelley Michelle’s body was used for some of the shots. 

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Happiest place in the world

With the script of Pretty Woman changing many different times, it can only be expected that the film had a very different ending originally. Going back to the fact that there were plenty of cinderella references in Pretty Woman, the original movie titled 3000 actually ended with Vivian and her best friend Kit ending up at Disneyland.

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Considering this ending was written before the film was picked up by Disney, it is quite ironic that the last scene was at The Happiest Place On Earth.

Award winner

It’s not a usual occurrence that a romcom ends up with prestigious award nominations, but Pretty Woman did. The film was nominated for four Golden Globes and Julia Roberts ended up beating Mia Farrow, Andie MacDowell, Demi Moore and Meryl Streep to win the award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

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Although she was still an up and coming actress, this was Roberts’ second consecutive Golden Globe and the previous year she took home the Best Supporting Actress award for Steel Magnolias.

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Julia was not amused

She might be one of the greatest actresses, but it was actually very hard to get Julia Roberts to genuinely laugh on screen in Pretty Woman. In the scene where Vivian was watching I Love Lucy, she really struggled in letting out a convincing laugh.

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To get Roberts to laugh, Garry Marshall positioned himself off-camera and tickled Julia until she was laughing uncontrollably. Her most genuine laugh was in the improvised scenes with Richard Gere that came completely unexpected.

Richard Gere wasn’t interested

It took a while to decide who was the right actor to play Edward, but when Garry Marshall decided he really wanted Richard Gere, the feeling wasn’t mutual. When he was approached to play Edward, he turned down the role several times.

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At this point, the director and producer brought in Julia Roberts to help the case and knew Gere would love her. When Richard Gere was on a phone call with Garry Marshall, Roberts held up a post it note that said “please say yes”.

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The handkerchief gag was unscripted

Some of the funniest parts of Pretty Woman were not written into the script. This is exactly the case in the scene where Vivian loudly blows her nose into a handkerchief. The hotel manager is pressing Vivian on what business she has in a five-star luxury hotel.

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Vivian gets into a mess at which point the manager calms down and hands her a handkerchief which she blows her nose into. Roberts improvised in the moment but later hoped it wouldn’t get into the movie as she thought it was actually quite disgusting!

A sequel vow

The success of Pretty Woman was quite unexpected and no one realized it would become one of the best and most profitable rom coms of all time. In most cases, when a movie does so well, you can always expect a sequel in the following years.

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However, over 30-years later there is still no sight of sequel and there is a reason for it. Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, and director Garry Marshall vowed to never do a sequel unless all three of them were involved. With Marshall no longer with us, it looks like there will only ever be one Pretty Woman.

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The directors first choice

Julia Roberts was a perfect choice for Vivian, but she was by no means the top choice. The role was initially offered to Molly Ringwald after starring in 80s hit movies including Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, she was assumed as a good fit for Vivian.

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Immediately, Ringwald turned down the role, she didn’t even consider it. She didn’t like the film’s content and felt uncomfortable playing the risque role of Vivian. She later expressed her regret at not saying yes to Marshall.

Screen test revolving door

Before Richard Gere had signed on to play Edward, many different notable actors auditioned for the coveted role. When they had Julia Roberts as Vivian, they had over 10 different actors come in for a screen-test.

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A wide range of people including Charles Grodin, known for playing sarcastic intellectuals, and the famously intense Al Pacino were seen. At this point, the producers and director didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted. Richard Gere ended up being the perfect fit.

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Car companies wanted nothing to do with it

In Pretty Woman, Edward is a wealthy bachelor, living an expensive but emotionally empty life, so used to try and buy his happiness. This also came in the form of sports cars.

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Initially, producers wanted Edward driving around Beverly Hills in a Porsche or Ferrari but both car companies refused to be represented in the film containing adult themes. In the end, it was Lotus that got the contract and their sales tripled after the film came out. 

Get your own Pretty Woman experience

The hotel used in Pretty Woman was the Beverly Wilshere and the hotel have certainly capitalized on its fame from the film. The hotel offer a “Pretty Woman experience” that costs $100,000.

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The experience includes shopping with a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant, a private driver around Rodeo Drive, a VIP suite, couples massage and a special menu from the executive chef.

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Richard Gere broke a tooth during filming

In the scene where Edwards walks in on Stuckey trying to assault Vivian, he gets aggressive towards him, ends up firing him and throwing him out of the suite.

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That scene was truly quite intense on screen and Gere actually broke a crown on one of his molars during the scene. In fact, if you look closely, you can see Gere making strange movements with his mouth which is a cause from the broken crown.

Julia Roberts’ southern twang

Julia Roberts was still quite new to acting in Hollywood blockbusters and hailing from Georgia, she still had quite the strong southern accent. It usually takes actors many years to be able to get rid of the strong accent when they are playing different roles, but Roberts was thrown in at the deep end and had to cover it up quite quickly.

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Producers were worried her accent would come out in Pretty Woman so threw in a line in saying she comes from Georgia to cover it up.

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Julia Roberts volunteered at a clinic to research the role

In order to prepare for her role as Vivian, Julia Roberts spent a week volunteering at a Los Angeles clinic. The director Garry Marshall’s wife worked there as a nurse and offered Julia the opportunity to come by.

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Barbara Marshall commented on it saying “Garry would never visit me at the clinic, because he was a hypochondriac and afraid of getting a disease. But he asked if Julia could come and talk to some of the patients.”

Darker scenes were cut

The original Pretty Woman was called 3000 and had a very dark premise, but some of these darker scenes were filmed with Julia Roberts. There was one scene where Vivian was confronted by dealers and Edward had to come and save her.

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In addition, Vivian’s language was much more colorful in the script and a lot of her lines had to be altered to remove the bad language. It did become a Disney film after all!

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Richard Gere’s ever changing hair

In the Pretty Woman movie, Richard Gere’s hair is his signature sat-and-pepper colored. However, if you look at the actor in the Pretty Woman movie posters, you will notice that his hair is brown all over.

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If you thought that it was only female actresses that were retouched, think again! Although it doesn’t seem very fitting that they would make his hair brown as the actor is known for that kind of silver fox look!

An extra cameo

In many movies, there are cameo’s from really relevant people that you would only notice if you had a really sharp eye, or someone told you about it. In the case of Pretty Woman, Garry Marshall gave himself a tiny cameo.

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There is a scene where a homeless man asks Richard Gere’s character for some directions, that homeless man is in fact the director himself. Marshall was known for adding small, fun details to his movies and this was one that he thoroughly enjoyed.

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Choosing the perfect actress

While it took Richard Gere much convincing to take the role of Edward, Julia Roberts knew she wanted to play Vivian from the get go. However, the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual between producers and they had a long list of prominent actresses that they considered before director Garry Marshall was absolutely convinced that Roberts should play the part of Vivian.

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Actresses including Sandra Bullock and Sarah Jessica Parker were both offered the role but both turned it down.

Almost a 10-year reunion

Despite the cast making a pact about not doing a sequel of Pretty Woman unless it was altogether, they never mentioned anything about a different movie. Nine-years after Pretty Woman was filmed, the original cast came back together to film Runaway Bride, with Roberts and Gere both in leading male-female roles.

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Despite Runaway Bride not doing as well as Pretty Woman, it was still a success and the cast loved being back together on set to try and produce another smash hit at the box office.

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Restless Gere

Richard Gere was very much a strong-willed actor. When he started filming Pretty Woman, he decided that his character Edward would move around the entire time during his scenes, as if he was restless and just couldn’t sit still.

Director Garry Marshall caught onto it after two days of filming and then finally confronted Gere and told him no more moving around between takes. We can only wonder why Richard Gere wanted to give his character this trait.

The magic croissant

While most movies have bloopers and continuity mistakes, only those with a very sharp eye can spot them. However, in Pretty Woman, there was one major continuity error that almost everyone noticed.

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Vivian was eating a croissant at breakfast with Edwards, asking him what he does for a living. The camera then cuts away from Julia Roberts and when it returns to her in shot, her croissant has been replaced by a pancake! It simply can’t have transformed so either production made a big mistake, or Julia Roberts just chose to eat the whole croissant.

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Earthquake ruined the scene

The scene where Edward takes Vivian to the opera was one of the best parts of the movie. Vivian was dressed to the nines in the most expensive of clothing when they ventured out of the hotel.

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Filming for this was supposed to have taken place in San Francisco, with Edward whisking her away. However, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit San Fran, causing $5 billion worth of damage and killing 67 people. Instead it was filmed at the University of Southern California’s history museum.

No regrets this time

When Richard Gere was weighing up all his options whether to accept the role of Edward or not, something came to mind that happened a few years ago that could have made all the difference. In 1986, Gere was offered the role of corporate raider Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street.

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He declined and Michael Douglas accepted in instead. Douglas went on to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in this film. Lucky Gere didn’t pass up Pretty Woman too!

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Watching Vivian strut

Richard Gere admitted that one of his favorite parts of filming the movie was watching Julia Roberts strut her stuff as Vivian and walk down Rodeo Drive in those thigh high boots.

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He claimed “that was fun for everyone,” by the sounds of it, it must have taken Roberts quite some time to master the walk in those towering boots. Gere was however very complimentary of young Roberts’ look in the film, adding that she was “all about the legs.”

Self-fulfilling prophecy

In one scene, Vivian talks about her childhood and how she would pretend to be a princess who was “trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me.”

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Surprisingly, when this was filmed, the ending hadn’t been confirmed yet, so Vivian ended up getting her princess ending and predicting it quite accurately.

Read more: Iconic scenes of movies that were totally improvised

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