“What's your name?” “What do you want it to be?”
Directed by Garry Marshall . 1989
"I would have ruined it… probably brought the movie down. When I saw the movie, which I thought was terrific, I couldn't see myself in that part. Richard Gere really did it well. I didn't feel I could have done that."
"It's strange to talk about vulnerability and innocence with a guy who's played the foremost killers on the American screen," said the director. "But he's so pure and honest and artistic, it's a little like Don Quixote walking through Hollywood."
The original script was called 3,000 and the Wall Street corporate raider hiring a hooker for a week at $3,000 was… Al Fuckin' Pacino...!
“You and I are both such similar people,” he says.
“We both screw people for money.”
That film, therefore, would have been rather different, darker, bleaker, than the runaway, light, glossy hit it became.
There were really two roles only in the the piece. Businessman Edward Lewis and Vivian Ward, the hooker he hired for a week in LA, for $3,000. And Disney, because strangely enough this is a Disney film we discussing here, looked at 14 guys and 35 women (mostly from the same ladies up for The Accused, Cape Fear and The Terminator… and, like many of the men, Prizzi’s Honour).
After Pacino and Roberts, the only other actual planned couple was Christophe(r) Lambert. and Molly Ringwald. He, she could take. The script, not so much. It made her uncomfortable. Besides, she had no ambiton to play a tart. And yes, she later regretted fleeing the coup!
Edward Lewis . Once Pacino pulled out Warren Beatty was mentioned. But his movie income still allowed him to be choosey. He had amassed $30m - doubled by pal Nicholson with just one movie, Batman.
Burt Reynolds passed His role selections were almost as bad as George Raft’s. George refused most of Bogart’s hits and now Reynolds admitted avoiding three Richard Gere roles. (Actually, four, but who’s counting). “He’s prettier. I’m not a romantic lead. I look in the mirror: Jesus! This is crooked, that’s drooping, the voice sounds like a pallbearer.”
John Travolta belonged to the same club of bad choices… He refused Edward, just as he had passed American Gigolo to Gere in 1978.
Christopher Reeve had talks. And complained of unprofessionalism. Anyway, he would not have been happy with director Marshall’s instructions to Gere: “In this movie, one of you moves. And one of you doesn’t. Guess which one you are?”
Idem for Tom Berenger, Albert Brooks, Daniel Day-Lewis, Charles Grodin (!!), Dennis Quaid and… Sylvester Stallone. Well, of course he refused. He had to have the best body in a film.
Oh and even Denzel Washington - a casting idea that would be seen as a racial ; slur, implying that only black tycoons bought women.. Four years later, Denzel and Julia (among the few stars best known by their first names) co-starred in The Pelican Brief thriller.
Finally, it was Disney's Jeff Katzenberg who phoned Gere. "I got this script - a cross between My Fair Lady and Wall Street." Gere passed - until his agent, the legendary Ed Limato begged him to change his decision. Gere gave in because Limato was ‘the best of the best... the most respected agent of our time.”
Vivian Ward . "The early draft I saw didn't work on the page," said the very literate Meg Ryan, an ex-journalism student at NYU. "The film turned out well because of Julia, not because of the script. She elevated it. But listen, I have to look at things the way they read. We all do."
During four years of gestation, Julia Roberts remained the hooker in question - once almost opposite Sean Connery. They were later due for a (cancelled) re-make of The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Shame.
“I owe my career to Garry Marshall,” said …. Second! Roberts. “There was no known reason for him to hire me… even he was puzzled by his decision.”
The luscious Valeria Golino found herself in a terrible place…. Second! “It was awful. At least I wasn’t 25th!? ? ?The fact that I am foreigner didn't help. It helped me get there because my accent was charming, but when it came to be between Julia Roberts and me, she was American. We did the last reading the same day. We had three scenes and I saw her a couple of times in the corridor coming towards me, I was dressed the same and we would be like, ‘Hey! Hi!’ and in my head I was like: Oh shit! I knew I’d lost it when I saw her! I was beautiful, too, but she was perfect for that comedy. I always had more melancholia, something different. (By 2012, she was directing… )
Roberts or not, various other girls were seen and, usually, shouted their way out of the role.
For Jennifer Jason Leigh:
“The script was so dark, I couldn’t believe
Disney was making it. And, of course, they didn’t.
Instead, they turned it into a recruiting film...
the Top Gun of prostitution.”
Garry Marshall got another earful when he contacted the eyeful." The script infuriated me," DarrylHannah told him. "On a very specific level, this was a love story. But it's not. It's not! It's a kick in the teeth to the whole idea of moving along the women's movement... [Unlike her stripper in Dancing At The Blue Iguana, 2000.Or her Whore, 2004].
"What the film had to say was incredibly, subliminally irresponsible and destructive.I told Garrythat telling girls that being a prostitute while deciding on a career is OK because you might meet your Prince Charming was just unbelievable. It was so, so disturbing."
An amazed Garry Marshall said: “I always thought Pretty Woman was Pygmalion.”
After such denunciations, it was surprising that the upright Jodie Foster should be interested in Ms Ward. Well, Foster had won her Oscar the year before for The Accused, and probably saw Vivian as being the chance of a double.
Sarah Jessica Parker simply disliked the part. You could see why when she became Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City on TV. SJP does not do sexy. Or, not well. Without trying, her Sex co-star, Kristin Davis, did it better, just not enough impress Marshall.
Kim Basinger, Bo Derek and Madonna were the most obvious notions as opposed to Carrie Fisher putting Princess Leia on the streets! Diane Lane came close (for the darker version) except for her crowded diary. She went to make three other movies with Richard Gere. Lori Petty actually preferred Cadillac Man - huh and hah! Elisabeth Shue went on to be Oscar-nominated for another hooker in Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas in 1995.
At 24, Brooke Shields was looking for a mature role. Without success. Having lost Body Double and Prizzi’s Honour, she auditioned for Vivian. Marshall was not so enthusiastic and Shields felt this was the biggest loss in her career.
Marshall had the grace, at least, to drop Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder for being too young. At 14 and 18. So was Uma Thurman, at 19, despite her erotic breakthrough in Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons.
Also in contention were… Rosanna Arquette, Justine Bateman, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joan Cusack (!), Geena Davis, Bridget Fonda, Melanie Griffith, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone (three years before the raunchier Basic Instinct), Emma Thompson (!!!), Kathleen Turner and Debra Winger,
Oh yes, and Marshall lost Jennifer Jason Leigh by making another asinine, macho mistake. He believed the hooker "had been doing this for so long, she's having fun!"
"Fun?" yelled Leigh. "What can be fun about getting in a car with some 60-year-old and giving him a blow job?"
PS Demi Moore rejected Laura San Giacomo’s fine cameo because… well, she wasn’t Vivian, was she. And Roy Orbsion wasn’t singing about Kit!