Molly Ringwald Turned Down the Movie That Made Julia Roberts a Star, but She Doesn’t Regret It

Molly Ringwald was the sweetheart of the 1980s, largely thanks to her connection to John Hughes. During her early career, Ringwald connected with John Hughes and starred in three of his teen movies. Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pinkand The Breakfast Club pretty much defined a generation. Ringwald was an important part of that. Several years removed from the Hughes movies, Ringwald was shown the script for Pretty Woman. She passed on the iconic role that would later go to Julia Roberts. Ringwald wants everyone to know she’s perfectly OK with it.

Molly Ringwald revealed she did receive the script for ‘Pretty Woman’

For years, rumor had it that Ringwald was the preferred actor to portray Vivian in Pretty Woman. Back in 2012, Ringwald finally confirmed that she did get the script for Pretty Woman, but the rumor is a bit exaggerated. During a 2012 Reddit AMA, Ringwald said that she had seen the script for Pretty Woman, but it wasn’t exactly her part to turn down. In fact, she said she couldn’t actually recall turning the role down at all.

Molly Ringwald attends 'Full Frontal with Samantha Bee' ijn 2018
Molly Ringwald | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TBS/Turner

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In the end, the part went to Julia Roberts, who was so brilliant in the flick, that it is considered the film that made her a true star. Roberts has previously appeared in Steel Magnolias and Mystic Pizza, but Pretty Woman was her first time playing a romantic lead. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her in the film.

Ringwald insists the part should have always belonged to Julia Roberts

Ringwald wanted to make sure her fans understood that she was not bummed about missing out on the part, and she hardly considered her brush with the Pretty Woman script a near miss. In fact, Ringwald made it clear that she saw an early version of the story, back when it was titled $3,000, and that she just thought it was “OK”.

She stated that Roberts all but made the movie and that she couldn’t really imagine anyone else taking on the role, even herself. She noted that the part allowed Roberts to shine, and that every actor hopes to connect to a project like that. Ringwald, however, doesn’t seem confident she could have shined in the part, though.

Molly Ringwald is right, Pretty Woman would have been completely different with Julia Roberts

Ringwald insists that Pretty Woman wouldn’t be Pretty Woman without Roberts. She’s right. Roberts’ interest in the film helped to secure the movie’s leading man. During an interview, Richard Gere admitted he had no intention of taking the role of Edward Lewis when the movie first crossed his desk. He only agreed to take on the part after meeting Roberts. Gere described their meeting as an “aha” moment. That likely wouldn’t have happened with another actor.

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in a scene from 'Pretty Woman',
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’ | Buena Vista/Getty Images

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There was no shortage of actors who were reportedly interested in the movie, though. According to E!, Roberts beat out a slew of beauties for the lead role. Mary Steenburgen, Daryl Hannah, and Meg Ryan all read for Vivian. Al Pacino was seriously considered for Edward’s role, as were Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, and Denzel Washington.