The Simple, yet Effective Way Julia Roberts Convinced Richard Gere to Star in ‘Pretty Woman’

Pretty Woman became an instant hit when it was released in 1990. Since then, people haven’t been able to get enough of the modern classic that tells the story of Vivian and Edward, two people with different social statuses who strike up a love affair in the lavish surroundings of Beverly Hills.

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts | Buena Vista/Getty Images

Though the premise of the film caught people’s interest right away, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s portrayals of the two lead characters are what makes this movie as iconic as it is today.

While we can’t imagine anyone else starring as this dynamic duo, it turns out that Gere was initially dead set on not playing Edward but eventually decided to sign on, all because of Roberts.

Gere turned down the role several times

By now, everyone’s seen or knows the story of Pretty Woman. The film follows businessman Edward Lewis (Gere), who hires Hollywood prostitute Vivian (Roberts) to be his companion for a week after he gets dumped by his girlfriend over the phone.

After agreeing to stay with him in the lavish Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Vivian experiences the life of the ultra-rich for the first time. She receives etiquette lessons, gets makeovers, goes on shopping sprees, and is given the chance to rub elbows with the socially elite.

While Vivian’s getting a first-hand look at Edward’s lavish world, he’s able to get acquainted with her and begins to see that she’s a lot more than just an escort.

After getting to know one another on a more personal level, the pair start falling for each other and eventually solidify their love during one of the most memorable movie endings ever.

Though Roberts and Gere did a fantastic job portraying the fortuitous lovers, starring together in the film almost didn’t happen.

It turns out that the decision to cast Gere as Edward wasn’t arrived at quickly. Before considering the actor to play the male lead, the film’s director, Garry Marshell, looked to a handful of well-known men to play the part including Al Pacino, Christopher Reeves, and Denzel Washington.

Marshall eventually settled on Gere, who he believed was the best fit for the role. However, the actor didn’t feel the same way as he wasn’t overly enthused with the character and turned down the part several times.

As a last resort, Marshall flew Roberts out to New York City to meet Gere and try to convince him to take the part.

While Gere was on the phone with Marshall — who was still trying to get him to agree to take on the role — Roberts passed him a Post-It note that read, “please say yes.” After seeing that, Gere agreed to star opposite of Roberts in the film and the rest is history.

Roberts and Gere built up a solid friendship with filming

While starring as Vivian and Edward in Pretty Women, it was clear that Roberts and Gere had undeniable chemistry that could have easily turned into a real-life romance.

But despite their powerful on-screen connection, the actors never explored a romantic relationship. Instead, they established a close friendship that’s remained solid throughout the decades.

“You can fake anything in this business except chemistry. When two people kiss, the audience knows if there’s chemistry or not, and Richard and Julia had great chemistry,” Marshall told The HuffPost in 2012.

“Julia and I will always be connected,” Gere previously said of their longstanding friendship while sitting down with The Guardian.

And to think, if it wasn’t for Roberts convincing Gere to sign on for the movie, who knows if Pretty Woman would have become the rom-com classic it is today.