Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman role nearly went to this ’80s movie star

Julia Roberts became an A-lister off the back of one of the best '90s movies, but Pretty Woman was nearly handed to another successful comedy movie star.

Julia Roberts almost didn't play one of her best movie roles in Pretty Woman

The enormous success of Pretty Woman catapulted Julia Roberts to superstardom. When one of the best rom-coms ever made earned more than $460m worldwide, it transformed its lead into Hollywood’s most bankable female star. But Roberts nearly didn’t appear in the film, which is definitely among her best movies.

 

In the movie, Roberts played sex worker Vivian Ward as she bonded with the rich businessman (Richard Gere) who had hired her as an escort for the week. Decades later, it’s firmly established among the best ’90s movies.

But Pretty Woman wasn’t guaranteed to join the list of the best Julia Roberts movies, as numerous stars were given the opportunity to play Vivian. It’s a real sliding doors moment for a lot of the best actors who were hovering around female leading roles in Hollywood at that time.

One of those stars was Molly Ringwald, who was already firmly established as the leading lady behind some of the best comedy movies of the ’80s, including The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink.

But when she saw the script for Pretty Woman, she wasn’t keen on elements of the story. And despite the movie’s huge success, it’s not a decision she massively regrets, according to a new interview in The Guardian.

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Julia Roberts was wonderful in it, but I didn’t really like the story. Even then, I felt like there was something icky about it,” said Ringwald.

Roberts was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars thanks to her performance and went on to dominate the ’90s with hits like Notting Hill and My Best Friend’s Wedding, before finally winning an Oscar for Erin Brockovich in 2001.

She returned to the rom-com genre in 2022 with the George Clooney movie Ticket to Paradise, and it really felt like a charming homecoming for a master of the genre.