Al Pacino Turned Down the Lead Role in ‘Pretty Woman’ Opposite Julia Roberts

Al Pacino’s legendary career has spanned several decades and includes some of the most memorable movies in the history of cinema. From The Godfather to Scarface, he’s left a mark on Hollywood that won’t be easily forgotten. 

And although he’s starred in some extremely successful films, he’s also passed on his fair share, as well. 

Believe it or not, Pacino was in the running to star in the smash 1990 hit Pretty Woman, opposite Julia Roberts. However, after being offered the role, he decided not to sign on for the film. 

Al Pacino auditioned for the lead role in ‘Pretty Woman’

Al Pacino
Al Pacino attends ‘The Humbling’ premiere during the 71st Venice Film Festival | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Did Al Pacino Boycott the Oscars After His ‘Godfather’ Nomination?

Pacino detailed the story behind his Pretty Woman audition during an interview with Robert De Niro for GQ

“I’ll tell you something, I’ll say it because I read, I read aloud Pretty Woman with the young Julia Roberts,” Pacino said. 

During the initial table read for the movie, Pacino knew the movie was going to be a big hit. 

“And Gary Marshall got a group of us together, and I was actually filming something at the time and I went,” Pacino said. “I mean, you could tell at the reading, this is going to be good, this is going to be a hit picture. You just knew it.”

He was really impressed by Julia Roberts at the table read 

Pacino was especially impressed by Roberts, who was still a relatively unknown actress at the time. 

“And this girl was phenomenal,” Pacino said. “I mean, I said to Gary, ‘Where did you get this girl?’ And so you really get a sense of it. And that was just to prove that instinct was correct.”

The ‘Godfather’ star turned down the lead role in ‘Pretty Woman’

However, despite liking both the script and Roberts, Pacino opted not to star in Pretty Woman

“I didn’t do the picture,” Pacino said. “Yeah, they offered it to me.”

She temporarily lost the role after the production company folded

Interestingly, long before Pacino came in for his audition, Roberts was nearly removed from the cast. The original studio that had started developing Pretty Woman shuttered without warning, and she lost the role. 

“I had no business being in a movie like that, really,” Roberts said. “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.”

After finding out Disney had taken on the production, she was almost certain that her opportunity was gone. 

“So, the script, there was one producer that stayed with the script, and then it went to Disney,” Roberts said. “And I thought, ‘Went to Disney? Are they gonna animate it?’ Like, how does this become a Disney movie?”

One of the original producers gave her a shot 

Luckily, Roberts was able to take a meeting with one of the film’s producers and prove she still deserved the role.

“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,” Roberts said. “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.”

To top it all off, a majority of the Pretty Woman script was re-written, making it more palatable for general audiences. 

“And they changed the whole thing, and it really became more something that is in my wheelhouse than what it originally was,” Roberts said. 

Pretty Woman was a massive success, grossing $436 million against its $14 million budget.