This year Julia Roberts celebrates an illustrious 30-year career as a Hollywood actress that started with her breakout role in 1988’s Mystic Pizza. But Roberts became a household name when she starred in the Cinderella story Pretty Woman about a prostitute named Vivian who falls in love with businessman Edward, played by Richard Gere. When the classic rom-com had its Broadway debut over the summer, the throwback musical served as a poignant reminder for Roberts. In her words:
Hand a symbolic tissue to Julia Roberts, because sounds like it was a bit of a rough watch for the actress. Garry Marshall was the director of Pretty Woman, and playbook co-writer for the Broadway version with the movie’s original screenwriter J.F. Lawton. Marshall died in 2016 at 81 years old, soon after working with Roberts on his last directorial project Mother’s Day. The pair also worked together on the rom-coms Runaway Bride and Valentine’s Day. In her cover interview for Entertainment Weekly, Roberts recalled a time when Marshall surprised her about the Broadway project her was working on during a lunch at her house.
Garry Marshall left a momentous mark on comedy television and film that started a a writer in ’60s with The Dick Van Dyke Show, continued in the ’70s and ’80s with The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days. He then moved over to the director’s chair producing hits like Overboard, Beaches and The Princess Diaries movies. Putting perhaps his iconic movie on Broadway was one of the last things he worked on, though he never saw it completely come together in New York City.
The Broadway version of Pretty Woman stars Samantha Barks as Vivian, who was Les MisÃ©rables’ Ã‰ponine, and Tony-winning actor Steve Kazee who was previously in the Broadway version of Once. The inclusion of Pretty Woman on Broadway continues a string of musical adaptations of popular romantic comedies such as Mean Girls, Legally Blonde and the upcoming Clueless musical which will arrive late November. Considering Pretty Woman is still one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies ever, it was only a matter of time before Julia Roberts would see another iteration of her most iconic role.
While Julia Roberts began her career as a rom-com actress, she recently said her days with the genre are likely over as she continues to take on dramatic roles. Before the end of 2018, Roberts is starring in an Amazon original series Homecoming from the creator of Mr. Robot and in family drama Ben is Back. It all started with her role in Pretty Woman that wouldn’t have put her on the map without director Garry Marshall leading her through its production.