How dark! Julia Roberts‘ Pretty Woman character, Vivian Ward, was supposed to die of an overdose in the original ending of the classic 1990 film, former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg revealed on Thursday, March 2.
“I can’t tell you how much time was spent debating,” Katzenberg said at a Q&A session at Hearst Tower in New York City, according to the New York Post‘s Page Six. “As a script, Pretty Woman was an R-rated movie about a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard. By the way, in the original version — it’s pretty dark — I think she died of an overdose.”
The film studio executive, 66, explained that Disney wasn’t thrilled with the grim ending — for obvious reasons. “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,” he said. “But, as they say, the rest is history.”
It’s no secret that the original screenplay for Pretty Woman had to be rewritten into the romantic comedy that we all know and love today. In March 2015, screenwriter J.F. Lawton opened up about the Garry Marshall–directed movie’s once-dark ending during an interview with Vanity Fair.
“If I had written the final draft, or somebody else had written the final draft, I don’t think it ever would have gotten produced,” Lawton, 56, told the publication. “I think it got produced because the original script had gone to Sundance, it was prestigious, it was viewed as serious art, so it was allowed to touch into this area of sexuality and money and prostitution and all of that. It gave Hollywood permission to do it, and then Garry was smart enough, because he’s got incredible pop instincts, to say, ‘OK, this is what people want to see, they want to see the fairy tale.'”
In the end, Pretty Woman turned out to be a huge success (and made Roberts a superstar) and remains Disney’s highest grossing R-rated film to date.