Those who love movies will probably have seen “Pretty Woman” the better of the two movies which Richard Gere and Julia Roberts have made together. It's a simple fairytale story about a Hooker and a business man who fall in love over the course of a week. But “Pretty Woman” could have been a very different movie with not only Julia Roberts not being the first choice for the role of Vivian but also a few notable actors also considered for the role of Edward.
One of the actors who was a contender for the role of Edward was Christopher Reeve famous for playing “Superman”. Now whilst was both a talented and often under rated actor I couldn't see him achieving the right level of chemistry with Julia Roberts. As it turns out Christopher Reeve didn't get the role as when he went to do a reading Julia Roberts wasn't available and so the cast director stepped in. Frustrated by the casting director's lack of professionalism Reeve ended up ripping up his script and walking out.
Another actor who was being considered for the role of Edward was acting legend Al Pacino. Like Christopher Reeve, Al Pacino went for a read through and was more fortunate to sit opposite Julia Roberts rather than the casting director. But Al Pacino ended up turning the role down and in the year which “Pretty Woman” was released Al Pacino would end up on the big screen in 3 movies “The Local Stigmatic”, “Dick Tracy” and “The Godfather: Part III”. Whilst I rate Al Pacino as one of the best actors he's just too intense for the laid back role of Edward and it would have changed the whole dynamic of the relationship if Edward was a more vocal and forceful character.
Christopher Reeve and Al Pacino were not the only actors considered for the role with John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone are also rumoured to have been on the list of actors to take on the role. In the end Richard Gere got it and whilst already a star thanks to hit movies in the early part of the 80s “Pretty Woman” most definitely gave his a career a much welcome boost.
Before Julia Roberts was chosen for the role of Vivian there was an impressive list of actresses who were being considered for the role. The list included Sandra Bullock, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger, Kim Basinger, Sharon Stone, Heather Locklear, Kelly McGillis, Melanie Griffith, Joan Cusack, Emma Thompson, Carrie Fisher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Geena Davis, Rosanna Arquette, Elisabeth Shue, Tatum O'Neal, Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Diane Lane and also Madonna. As well as this already impressively long list Winnona Ryder, Jennifer Connely and Drew Barrymore are supposed to have wanted to play the role but were turned down as they were too young.
Whilst that in itself is an impressive list of actresses there were 3, Meg Ryan, Daryl Hannah and Molly Ringwald who were ahead of Julia Roberts for the role of Vivian. Although it is unclear why Meg Ryan turned the role down, it may have been that she had just starred in romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally…” and fancied a different challenge. As for Daryl Hannah well she is reported to have felt the role was “degrading to women” and declined the chance to star. Whilst Molly Ringwald was uncomfortable with both the script and playing a hooker, although years later she admitted to regretting turning down the role. Whilst I think Meg Ryan would have been a great Vivian and could see her having great chemistry with Richard Gere I can't say the same of either Daryl Hannah or Molly Ringwald, both talented actresses but wrong for the role.
But whilst “Pretty Woman” could have ended up with different stars taking on those now famous roles it could have been a completely different movie altogether. Originally the idea for “Pretty Woman” was to be a dark drama about a drug addicted prostitute living in LA who wanted to make money to go to Disneyland. As such the drug addiction element was part of the storyline between Vivian and Edward with part of the deal that she stay clean for a week. As it turns out the dark drama was changed into a fairytale romantic comedy but elements still remained. The drug element is still there with Vivian's room mate Kit using the rent money to buy drugs for herself and the fact that Vivian never does drugs is made very clear in an early bathroom scene.
So “Pretty Woman” as we know it could have been very different, in fact a whole different movie with a different storyline and different stars.