How Julia Roberts Convinced Richard Gere to Star in “Pretty Woman”

Richard Gere first refused to do 'Pretty Woman' but Julia Roberts used three words to win him over

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Richard Gere playing Prince Charming to Julia Roberts’ damsel in distress in the modern-day Cinderella story, Pretty Woman. However, what most people don’t know is that Gere initially turned down the role. It was Julia Roberts who convinced him to take on the iconic character of Edward.

When the cast of the classic 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman reunited in 2015, some secrets were spilled. The film, which launched Julia Roberts’ career, was originally intended to have a darker storyline called “3000”. It followed the life of a drug-addicted prostitute who eventually gets tossed out of a limousine onto the street with $3000 thrown on her back. However, when Garry Marshall stepped in as director and Disney got involved, the film was transformed into the fairy tale that we all know and love.

Even though the film had a lighter tone, Richard Gere wasn’t initially interested in starring in it. He turned down the role multiple times. He didn’t understand why the character was so appealing to audiences. However, Garry Marshall, who believed in the chemistry between Roberts and Gere, continued to pursue Gere for the role.

Marshall, a legendary producer and screenwriter, directed classic films like Beaches, Runaway Bride, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. He was known for his love of happy endings, and he believed that the pairing of Gere and Roberts was essential for Pretty Woman’s success.

In an attempt to bring the two actors together, Marshall left them alone in a room and hoped their connection would spark onscreen. Gere recalls being mesmerized by Roberts and describes a moment when she wrote a note that said, “Please say yes.” This gesture, along with their growing connection, convinced Gere to take on the role.

“We cannot imagine Pretty Woman without Julia Roberts and Richard Gere! Those two are so perfect in that film, and the chemistry they share is what makes it timeless. Also, Gere is dreamy when he climbs that fire escape at the end of the film and rescues Roberts’ Vivian! That’s a scene that will never get old!” [1]

What do you think of Pretty Woman? Can you envision any other actor as Edward?