‘Pretty Woman’: Richard Gere Improvised the Necklace Scene That Made Julia Roberts Burst Out Laughing

When the movie Pretty Woman hit theaters in 1990, no one knew how big it would become in the coming years. The film that essentially placed Julia Roberts’ name on the grid has come to be known as one of the best movies to have ever been made.

While the writers had a different ending in mind for the whole film, fans are glad they decided to make it a romantic comedy. However, most fans don’t know that one of the movie’s most iconic scenes was actually improvised.

‘Pretty Woman’ is a classic rags-to-riches story

RELATED: Julia Roberts’s $300K ‘Pretty Woman’ Salary Was Millions Less Than Richard Gere’s

Pretty Woman tells the story of a wealthy businessman named Edward Lewis and a prostitute Vivian Ward. Edward makes money by identifying struggling businesses, breaking them down, and selling the parts for profit. After taking a wrong turn and ending up in the wrong neighborhood, he encounters Vivian.

He propositions her to appear by his side for a business trip in exchange for $3000 for six days. She accepts, and he gets to work to train her about the proper etiquette with his hotel manager Edward.  Impressed by her transformation, Edward opens up to Vivian about his life and relationships.

He then meets his lawyer Philip who worries that Vivian could be a spy. Edward tells Philip about how he met her, and Philip asks her for her services when Edward is done with her.

Vivian gets offended, and Edward apologizes for outing her. Mistaking him for being asleep, Vivian admits her feelings for him, and Edward offers to help her stop prostituting, but she declines his offer. He then meets a shipbuilding tycoon whose business is going under.

Instead of dismantling the company as he normally would, Edward offers to work with the businessman to save it, which angers Philip. Philip blames Vivian for impacting Edward with some morality and tries to rape her.

Edward runs in and saves her from him. Later while going to the airport, he takes a detour and goes up to Vivian’s apartment’s fire escape, thus overcoming his fear of heights and helping Vivian realize her metaphoric fairy tale.

The film was met with mixed reviews, with most of the reviews being positive. Pretty Woman remains to be Disney’s highest-earning R-Rated movie ever. The film was number one in the box office on its opening weekend and has grossed $485 million worldwide.

Richard Gere needed some convincing to play Edward

While in an interview in The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016, Gere admitted that when he received the script for Pretty Woman, he at first didn’t care for it. He also noted that he didn’t know a lot about Roberts before then, and the role seemed like any other role that anyone could pull off.

Gere said that Gary Marshall begged him to try and meet up with Roberts before he made his final decision. The 71-year-old actor stated that when Roberts walked into his office, he understood the entire film. His resolution to take part in the film came when Roberts wrote on a piece of paper, begging him to take the part.

Gere said that he was on a phone call with Marshall when Roberts wrote the note. Actress Molly Ringwald was also scheduled to play Vivian. She, however, turned down the part, saying that she wanted to play more adult roles. She had previously starred in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.

Gere improvised the film’s iconic necklace scene

Richard Gere
Richard Gere | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for National Board of Review

In the megahit rom-com Pretty Woman, one scene involves Gere’s character Edward snapping shut a necklace case on Robert’s hand. The scene is iconic due to the chemistry that the two shared at that moment. It has been recreated severally in pop culture, including in shows such as 30 Rock.

However, according to Mental Floss, the scene was actually improvised. Gere did it on a whim, and Roberts’ startled reaction and laughter were so genuine that the directors had to leave the scene in the movie.