Julia Roberts sat down to an interview with Patricia Arquette in an Actors on Actors segment and revealed that the original Pretty Woman ending left Roberts' character in alley. Garry Marshell's multi-award winning 1990 film also stars Richard Gere as Robert's love interest and is still a cult favorite among romantic comedy fans.
Pretty Woman is considered to be Roberts' breakthrough role, catapulting her career in Hollywood, and the film itself has had an incredible impact on pop-culture (most will remember the famous, unscripted, jewelry box scene). Gere and Roberts had an undeniable chemistry on screen, which director Marshell clearly noticed the first time around considering they starred together again in his 1999 romantic comedy, Runaway Bride. In Pretty Woman, fans will remember the happy ending where Gere's character, Edward goes to woo Vivian at her apartment rather than driving off to the airport. However, Roberts recalls a different, slightly darker ending in the original script which she recently shared.
During Variety's Actors on Actors segment, Arquette recalls receiving the original script herself, revealing Pretty Woman was originally titled 3,000 and that "the ending was really heavy." Although Arquette did not specify which role she was considered for, the film would have been completely different if she had been cast. Roberts, too, remembers the 3,000 script, explaining the original ending as such: "threw her [Vivian] out of the car, threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley." She does not specify who was supposed to throw Vivian out of the car, but if the assailant is Edward, then that ending would have made the film something completely different and far darker.
Roberts agrees that the original ending is a lot grittier than what she was used to at the time, adding,
"I had no business being in a movie like that. This small movie company folded over the weekend, and by Monday, I didn’t have a job. 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."
Clearly, Roberts is happy with the changes to the original script, but whether or not she had a hand in those changes is unclear. Marshall had a different vision for the film, which fans are familiar with today, but the original ending would have pushed Roberts in ways she was not comfortable with at the time. Of course, since then, Roberts has proven herself as a diverse and capable actor with roles like that in Erin Brokovich, for which she won numerous awards including an Oscar for Best Actress.
Pretty Woman is one of the most recognizable romantic films to come out of Hollywood in the 1990s, and Roberts' role in the film is undeniably iconic. The film was originally meant to be, however, a much darker, albeit realistic movie that represented the harsh world of sex work. As it is, Pretty Woman still accomplishes this to a degree by showcasing how badly some of these women are treated, but the ending is optimistic, suggesting that happiness is not out of reach, even for Vivian. Roberts has since come a long way, flexing her acting chops by branching out into dramatic roles. Fans can see Roberts in the psychological thriller/web series, Homecoming.