Did Molly Ringwald Decline the Part of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman?

Find out in the most recent episode of Movie Legends Revealed if Molly Ringwald actually turned down the role of Pretty Woman played by Julia Roberts. One of the most notable aspects of film and television legends is researching the actors who declined iconic roles. It’s always intriguing to consider who could have been cast in a major role and why they weren’t. Did they decline the role? Did the producers reject THEM? Over the years, I’ve written a number of these types of legends, such as how two 1980s teen stars had to pass on Breaking Bad before Bryan Cranston was offered a role, or how Burt Reynolds turned down a role written specifically for him in Terms of Endearment in favor of the silly race car film Stroker Ace (his replacement won the Oscar that Reynolds never won in his career, and desperately wanted). The legend that Chuck Norris turned down the role of John Kresse in Karate Kid because he felt it was disrespectful to karate is not always true (never happened). Then there are the truly bizarre ones, such as Molly Ringwald and Pretty Woman.

In the late 1980s, Pretty Woman originated in the mind of an unemployed screenwriter named J.F. Lawton, who told Vanity Fair, “I was a screenwriter who was trying to get a job, I was working in post-production and I was trying to sell scripts, and I had been writing all of these ninja scripts and comedies, and I just couldn’t get any attention. I had written a script titled Red Sneakers, which was about a one-legged lesbian stand-up comedian who was an alcoholic, when I decided I needed to do something more serious and dramatic. I received a great deal of attention after releasing this script. People were extremely curious! People were conversing with me.”

Regardless, what does this imply for the legend? I believe that the legend implies that Molly Ringwald turned down the role in Pretty Woman as it was written, because THAT is a good role. THAT is a role that you would be surprised to see rejected. The role in 3000, however, was rejected by SO MANY actors that it would be misleading to say that Molly Ringwald turned down the Pretty Woman role, so I’ll stick with this urban legend. Check out my Movie Legends Exposed archive for more urban legends about the film industry.

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