Julia Roberts’ role in Pretty Woman was originally turned down by this 80s icon

Was it a big mistake, huge, on the part of this 80s teen favorite?

Julia Roberts' role in Pretty Woman almost went to Molly Ringwald
(Image credit: Buena Vista/Getty Images)

Julia Roberts isn’t exactly short of a few hit movies, but it’s fair to assume that many people will first think of Pretty Woman when asked to name one of her films.

It was, after all, her breakout role where she proved she could lead a movie.

Before 1990’s Pretty Woman – which is now a beloved classic but had a totally different, dark ending to begin with - Julia had starred in well-received movies like Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias, holding her own against heavyweights like Dolly Parton, Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine.

But she wasn’t the leading lady we know and adore today.

Now, with an Oscar under her belt and the fact her movies have grossed over $3.9 billion globally, she’s one of Hollywood's most bankable stars – and perhaps the last true Movie Star. But could it all have turned out so differently?

Molly Ringwald found the original script for Pretty Woman "icky"

(Image credit: Getty)

Well, according to one actress – a well-known John Hughes heroine - Julia’s Pretty Woman role could have been hers.

That’s right, Molly Ringwald has made the startling revelation that she could’ve been the feisty Vivian, who charms Richard Gere’s billionaire Edward and rescues herself from a life of prostitution.

Molly was one of the biggest stars of the 1980s, giving young women a heroine they could root for and relate to in teen classics like The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.

Despite being impossible to avoid at slumber parties in the 80s, Molly has recently shared that her now teen daughter refuses to watch her classics. Well, if her daughter won’t watch The Breakfast Club, she likely wouldn’t have liked watching her mom take on grittier roles.

Molly Ringwald is now a regular on hit TV shows including Riverdale

(Image credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Molly opened up on the difficulties she faced navigating being the ‘It Girl’ of the 1980s while trying to break out into more adult, complex roles and away from the teen queen lane she had dominated.

“I didn’t really feel like darker roles were available to me,” she explained. “The ones that I wanted to do, I didn’t get. I was too young for certain roles. I was at this weird in-between stage.”

As she tried to navigate the industry, she revealed she started to down some of the more grown up roles offered to her – one of which was Julia Roberts’ role in Pretty Woman.

Molly explained that, despite thinking Julia “was wonderful” in the now legendary romcom, she “didn’t really like the story. Even then, I felt like there was something icky about it.”

During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) in 2012, Molly had previously mentioned being up for the role. “I think I saw an early draft and it was called $3,000.” she wrote. “The script was okay but I gotta say, Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that.”

Molly has since gone on to star in Netflix’s Riverdale series and Hulu’s The Bear.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.