Pretty Woman was one of the biggest hits of the 1990s and an era-defining rom-com, but the former head of the studio that produced the film reveals that the original script was far darker than the feel-good love story that propelled Julia Roberts to super-stardom.
“I can’t tell you how much time was spent debating,” former Disney studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg said during a Q&A at Hearst Tower in New York City, reports the New York Post‘s Page Six column.
When it was originally released in 1990, Pretty Woman was criticized for its sunny, romantic depiction of prostitution — which wouldn’t have been an issue had the filmmakers stuck to the original script.
“As a script, Pretty Woman was an R-rated movie about a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard,” said Katzenberg. “By the way, in the original version — it’s pretty dark — I think she died of an overdose. So convincing [people] that we should make that at the Walt Disney Co., and that it’s a fairy tale and a princess movie, a lot of people had a hard time seeing it. But, as they say, the rest is history.”
In the hands of director Garry Marshall (who passed away last year), Pretty Woman became far less dark and went on to become a massive hit.
To this day, the film remains Disney’s highest-grossing R-rated movie.