The prostitution fairy tale Pretty Woman was a big box-office success and made Julia Roberts an overnight star, but the film originally had a much darker ending than the happily-ever-after that director Garry Marshall produced. The original ending of the film as written by J.F. Lawton (who also penned the cinema classics Under Siege and Chain Reaction)–entitled $3,000 in a nod to the cost of hiring a prostitute for a week–was, according to Roberts, a “really dark and depressing, horrible, terrible story about two horrible people and my character was this drug addict, a bad-tempered, foulmouthed, ill-humored, poorly educated hooker who had this week-long experience with a foulmouthed, ill-tempered, bad-humored, very wealthy, handsome but horrible man and it was just a grisly, ugly story about these two people.”
In Lawton’s original script, Roberts’ character was a crack-addict, and Richard Gere’s character had a girlfriend, and the two leads don’t end up together. Lawton rewrote the story to make it more of a love story. “Garry was a little nervous about making the ending too upbeat, because the script was well respected in Hollywood and he didn’t want to be accused of being the guy who turned it into fluff,” Lawton tells Turner Classic Movies. “I did two drafts that made it more of a love story – they got together at the end. I took out the fact that he had a girlfriend he was cheating on with her and a few other things, and Disney’s reaction was that I’d gone too far, lightened it up too much.” Lawton must have made the story too light; he was fired and replaced by other writers, and the rest is Hollywood history, and little girls have dreamed about growing up and becoming Hollywood hookers ever since.