‘Pretty Woman’ made Julia Roberts one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but nearly thirty years later, she says she had ‘no business’ being in an ‘a movie like that, really.’ What?
“I have a funny story,” Patricia Arquette, 51, said to Julia Roberts, 51, as part of Variety Studios: Actors on Actors series. Both legendary actresses are on the cover of the latest edition of Variety, and it turns out they have more in common than one would think. “So many, many, many years ago, one of my early auditions was for a movie called 3,000. Most people don’t know that 3,000 was the original Pretty Woman script. And the ending was really heavy.” The original movie, Julia noted, had Richard Gere’s character “[throw] her [character] out of the car, threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley.”
“I had no business being a movie like that, really,” Julia said of the first “gritty art movie” version of one of her now-iconic hits. “And I get the part. The studio that had it — this small movie company folded over the weekend — and by Monday, I didn’t have a job. So the script — there was one producer that stayed with the script — and then it went to Disney. And I thought, ‘went to Disney? Are they going to animate it? Like how does this become a Disney movie?’ ”
“And then when Gary Marshall came on, and I think because he’s a great human being, he met me just because I had once had the job and he felt it would only be fair to at least meet me since I had this job for three days and then lost it. And they changed the whole thing,” Julia added. ”And it became more something that is in my wheelhouse.”
Patricia said she had a “fantasy of recasting you in 3,000, the original script, and you could even do it now,” but Julia disagreed. “I couldn’t do it then. I couldn’t do it now,” she told Patricia. “Thank God it fell apart. Even in Pretty Woman, if I had to be in a slip, I’d be covered in hives. I was breaking out in a cold sweat watching [Patricia’s role in] Escape at Dannemora.… Oh, my Christ. I just don’t even know.”
Julia’s turn in 1990’s Pretty Woman made her a major movie star, but as Patricia noted in the conversation, she went from “doing these gigantic movies and then started taking little movies” where she’s getting paid next-to-nothing. That was a conscious choice. “The big moment in my career for me was when I had done a lot of films in a row… And I think it was after I did Sleeping with the Enemy and I’m still at that point in my early 20s, and I saw some really great actors that I admired what they were doing.”
“And I would think, ‘Oh she’s great and she’s great.’ And then there a few movies where I thought, ‘Why is she is that movie? She’s better than that narrative.’ And I realized there’s a kind of sense of in the business — at that time — of movement is what keeps you relevant and you just have to keep going. And, I don’t know, I just had this instinct to stop doing anything if it didn’t feel like that passionate.”
The full convo between Julia and Patricia is available at Variety. Check your local newsstands for Variety’s Actors on Actors issue, also featuring Billy Porter with Rachel Brosnahan and Regina Hall with Emilia Clarke.