Molly Ringwald Turned Down ‘Pretty Woman’ Role: It Was an ‘Icky’ Storyline

"Julia Roberts was wonderful in it, but I didn’t really like the story," Ringwald said.
Pretty Woman
"Pretty Woman"

Molly Ringwald may have been pretty in pink, but that doesn’t mean she wanted to be a “Pretty Woman.”

The “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles” icon revealed that she turned down the lead role in the 1990 rom-com “Pretty Woman” that launched Julia Roberts’ career. Ringwald was approached to play a sex worker who is hired by a successful businessman (Richard Gere) to be his date for his stay in Los Angeles.

Julia Roberts was wonderful in it, but I didn’t really like the story,” Ringwald told The Guardian. “Even then, I felt like there was something icky about it.”

Ringwald also revealed she was rejected from “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Working Girl.”

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

Mike Nichols told Ringwald during her audition for “Working Girl” that she could not relate to the character climbing a corporate ladder: “‘She really needs to be at that moment where you feel the pain,'” Ringwald remembered Nichols telling her, adding, “‘You have your whole life ahead of you – nobody’s going to believe that of you.'”

The potentially problematic nature of “Pretty Woman” was recently debated on Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This” podcast about the Erotic ’90s. Longworth told IndieWire, though, that the film “humanizes” Roberts’ character.

“It puts forward this idea that even if you don’t agree with what she does for a living, she’s still a human being. And that feels like something almost radical for the time period,” Longworth said. “There’s so much conversation then and now about what these movies reflect about women and what they say, whether or not they’re showing women in a good light or a bad light and what they’re communicating in terms of women. And there’s so little conversation about what they’re communicating in terms of men and masculinity. Writing about ‘Pretty Woman,’ I became interested in the Richard Gere character, and this idea that [he’s the one] who has to really change his personality and his life and his way of relating to people. And, they can only have a relationship if he’s going to treat her like a human being. The male character has to change and do that.”

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