Richard Gere said “no” to ‘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 Robert’s damsel in distress in the modern-day Cinderella story, Pretty Woman. Gere melted hearts when in the final scene, his character Edward conquers his fear of heights and climbs the fire escape to rescue Roberts’ Vivian, who’s waiting at the top of her proverbial tower.

What most people don’t know is that Charles Grodin was a frontrunner for playing Edward, and it was Roberts who convinced Gere to play the role in the timeless classic that he wasn’t sure he wanted to star.

Keep reading to find out what Roberts did!

When the cast of the classic 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman reunited in 2015, some secrets were spilled.

The film, starring a 21-year-old Julia Roberts, who at the time had appeared in Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias, and Richard Gere, an already established sex symbol, was originally intended to have a dark storyline, called 3000.

The original script followed the life of drug addicted prostitute, who at the end is tossed out of the limousine, onto her back on the street, with Edward throwing her $3,000 in earnings on her body before driving away.

Julia Roberts has a drink with Richard Gere in a scene from the film ‘Pretty Woman’, 1990. (Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images)

Then Garry Marshall, the legendary producer and screenwriter, stepped in as director, and it was taken over by Disney, transforming the film into the fairy tale that generations still love.

Still, Gere wasn’t interested in starring in the film and said no, “a few times.”

“It wasn’t a part, it was just nothing. It was a suit, you can put a suit on a goat and put it out there, and it would work,” said Gere, who’s now 73. “I didn’t get it.”

Marshall, who was also interested in casting actor Charles Grodin–known for Midnight Run and The Heartbreak Kid–was still hoping for Gere.

“The chemistry between Roberts and Gere was perfect,” Marshall shared.

The multiple award-winning Marshall, who died in 2016 at 81, directed classic films like BeachesRunaway Bride (also with Gere and Roberts), Valentine’s DayNew Year’s Eve and Mother’s Day. He also created TV series like Happy DaysLaverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy.

“The actors brought such a lovability and charm that I didn’t think the audience would want a dark ending, and it didn’t hurt that I am from the school of happy endings,” Marshall said.

And Pretty Woman needed the coupling of Gere and Roberts–two very relatable actors–for audiences to feel the triumph when the pair found their “happily ever after.”

Marshall describes how he brought the two together and left them alone in a room, hoping their connection would bring them onscreen as co-stars.

Gere doesn’t remember Marhsall ever being there.

“I was so mesmerized, I don’t remember Garry, I only remember the girl,” Gere said of his meeting with Roberts, 55. “I still didn’t know if I was doing this movie. We’re getting to know each other, we’re flirty, flirty…nice, nice…She’s across the desk, she takes a piece of paper, and she’s writing something on it and she turns it around and pushes it to me…‘Please say yes’”

Gere explained that at the time, Marshall was on the phone with him, checking in on their progress.

“I said ‘yes!’” Gere added, “It was so sweet!”

We cannot imagine Pretty Woman with 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 Robert’s Vivian! That’s a scene that will never get old!

What do you think of Pretty Woman? Is there any other actor you can see as Edward?

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