March 23, 2020 is the 30th anniversary of the release of Pretty Woman, a rom-com that has been beloved for decades and which made Julia Roberts a household name. But the film as it was originally conceived was way different than the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold classic we all know and love. In fact, if the original vision for the film had been carried out, chances are good it wouldn't have such a solid place in our hearts.
In fact, it wasn't really a romantic comedy at all, though it was probably a lot more realistic. If you're getting ready to tuck into a viewing to see if it still holds up (spoiler: it totally does), first get the low-down on the original concept and alternate ending of Pretty Woman.
'Pretty Woman's alternate ending is as stark as the film's original title.
In its nascent stages, Pretty Woman was called 3,000 Dollars, which is the amount of money rich guy Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) offers Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) to be his "beck and call girl" for a week while he's in Los Angeles doing a big takeover deal. And a big motivator for Vivian accepting the job is... her huge drug problem.
Edward's deal with Viv was that, to earn the money, she had to stay clean for the six days they were together, and she complied, but while she's away living the high life, her roommate and fellow sex worker Kit (Laura San Giacomo) overdoses on cocaine and dies.
As if that's not enough of a bummer, Edward is hardly Vivian's prince charming in the original version as Julia recalls it. In an interview with Variety’s Actors on Actors opposite interviewer Patricia Arquette, they discussed the grittier concept the film had before it was sold to Touchstone (aka Disney) and director Garry Marshall was attached along with the auburn-haired actress in the lead.
In the alternate ending, Edward doesn't drive up to Vivian's Hollywood Boulevard apartment with flowers and climb up her fire escape to rescue her. He tosses her out of the car and throws the money at her. Gross!
Obviously, Disney wasn't going to be too thrilled with that outcome, so the whole story was reworked, though there are some remants of it in the final print. For example, Kit's character definitely at least dabbles in drug use, one of their acquaintances ODs toward the beginning, and basically all that stuff at the Blue Banana seems in line with the story as it was originally written. Also, the scene in which Vivian gets secretive about flossing in the bathroom appears to be cobbled together from an original scene in which Vivian really was sneaking off to the bathroom to get high.
It seems like Julia was relieved the concept changed entirely to "more something that’s in my wheelhouse than what it originally was."
"Thank god it fell apart," she told Patricia during the interview.
Couldn't agree more! While the original script was probably a lot more true to life, it doesn't seem like it would have nearly the rewatch value the feel-good classic has now!