Jennifer Connelly could’ve been a far larger star than she is today. While she’s constantly working, Jennifer’s career was almost drastically more impressive. After all, the movie she turned down ultimately made her replacement a mega-star.
The Beautiful Mind and Requiem For A Dream actor is currently happily married to the MCU’s Paul Bettany and living a pretty glamorous and creative life. But just think about how much for extravagant it would’ve been had she taken Julia Robert’s role in Pretty Woman…
So, why on Earth would Jennifer, who was a rising star at the time, reject the lead position in a beloved movie that’s gone on to make millions and launch Julia Roberts’ career?
Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts’ career. Prior to making the 1990 Garry Marshall flick, Julia had been in only a handful of projects. Her role as Daisy in Mystic Pizza allowed her to get into audition rooms she wouldn’t have otherwise been invited into. This was followed up with a supporting role in the star-studded ensemble film, Steel Magnolias. But it wasn’t until 1990 when Julia was cast in a leading role in a film that really centered on her.
As much as Pretty Woman is a movie about two very different people, there’s no doubt that the flick is really more about Julia’s Vivian Ward. The film was also a vehicle for Julia’s massive stardom and leading-woman status. To this day, Julia remains grateful for the opportunity to have been cast in this beloved film. So, it’s pretty crazy that she almost didn’t take the role as the film itself was originally much, much different.
It was this fact that also deterred Jennifer Connelly from accepting the leading role.
According to Vanity Fair, the original script for Pretty Woman was far more adult and far darker than the sweet romantic comedy that we know and love. J.F. Lawton’s original idea even had the Vivian character die at the end. In short, it didn’t have the happy ending that the studio really wanted
Pretty Woman was originally being developed by one studio and then it changed hands to Disney, who had even stronger opinions about decreasing the more mature aspects of the story.
J.F. Lawton’s original work drew inspiration from films like The Last Detail and Wall Street. It was more realistic… and it wasn’t fluff. But it also wasn’t something J.F. was overly protective of. The darker original screenplay broke him into the industry and he was just happy to have his work produced by people who actually cared… even if they wanted to dramatically change the story’s tone.
Additionally, producer Laura Ziskin tried to hammer home the idea that a wealthy man shouldn’t just swoop in and rescue an impoverished escort. She wanted a balance to that. Essentially, that the Vivian character would save Richard Gere’s Edward Lewis just as much as he saved her. Laura made sure that director Gary Marshall, who was extremely established at the time, did a re-write of his own. This re-write ultimately changed Pretty Woman into the classic movie
At the time, Jennifer was seen as one of the most desirable and upcoming stars thanks to her work in Once Upon A Time In America, Seven Minutes In Heaven, and, most notably, Labyrinth with David Bowie.
Being cast in Pretty Woman would have easily made Jennifer a household name and set her up for some tremendous roles. But, according to Cosmopolitan, Jennifer withdrew her name from the running. Just like Molly Ringwald, Jennifer felt that she was too young to play a prostitute in such a dark movie.
As the movie went through tonal changed, Julia Roberts was eventually cast, despite her not being Disney’s first choice. Of course, this choice made Julia a major star.
Given the fact that the movie went through a dramatic shift in tone, we wonder if Jennifer has any regrets about turning it down?
Of course, few people had the foresight to know that Pretty Woman would change so much. Therefore, Jennifer likely made an intelligent and honest choice when it was initially offered to her. After all, taking a role that was THAT dark, edgy, and sexualized would have likely put her career on a very different course.
Rather than take a leading role she felt uncomfortable with, Jennifer made the choice to protect her own integrity and safety… which is pretty admirable
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