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Julia Roberts Turned Down A Role In An Oscar-Nominated Film That Made $227 Million At The Box Office
2023/09/27

Julia Roberts is one of the most famous actresses in the world. Her career began with appearances in the films Mystic Pizza from 1988 and Steel Magnolias from 1989. Her career was never the same, however, after Pretty Woman was released.

The film took Roberts' career to new heights, making her an acclaimed staple of 90s romantic comedies.

But Roberts didn't accept every role that came her way. There was one role that Roberts turned down which ended up going to Meg Ryan. The film would go on to be an Academy Award-nominated classic.

Why Julia Roberts Turned Down The Role In 'Sleepless In Seattle'

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks starred in Sleepless In Seattle, which became a classic film.

The romantic love story became staples of both 90s films and their respective filmography. It was even nominated at the Academy Awards.

But Ryan wasn't the first choice to play the lead female role. Roberts revealed years later that she was initially approached to star in the film.

"I'd been offered Sleepless in Seattle, but couldn't do it," she told InStyle Magazine. "[Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town, you know?"

As Roberts hinted, she was working on Pretty Woman at the same time, hence why she turned down the role.

"I always feel like there is room for everybody," Roberts added. "I don't consider myself really all that ambitious. When I didn't get a part – even when I was younger and needing to pay my rent – I would think, 'Oh, someone else got it. She's going to be so good.' I never felt sour grapes."

'Pretty Woman' Was Originally A Much Darker Film

When speaking to Patricia Arquette for Variety's "Actors on Actors" interview, Roberts spoke about the initial incarnation of Pretty Woman. The film was originally titled 3000 and it was written by J.F Lawton.

"That movie was really dark and the ending was really heavy," Arquette said. "It really read like a dark gritty art movie.

"

Arquette had auditioned for the lead role, but it ultimately went to Roberts. During their conversation, Roberts talked about how the original film folded and why it was a blessing in disguise.

"I had no business being in a movie like that," Roberts said.

Roberts said that the original script tossed her character Vivian Ward out of a car, "threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away leaving her in some dirty alley."

The movie company who was going to make 3000 ended up folding, leaving Roberts without a job.

"There was one producer that stayed with the script and then it went to Disney.

And I went, went to Disney? Are they gonna animate it? How does this become a Disney movie?'"

Garry Marshal was now added as director, and Roberts said he wanted to at least meet her, since she was going to be in the original film.

"I think because he's a great human being, he met with me because I had once had the job and he felt it would only be fair to at least meet me since I had this job for three days and then lost it," she said.

Roberts said they proceeded to change it into something she felt more comfortable with. When Arquette suggested redoing the original version, Roberts protested.

"I couldn't do it then, I couldn't do it now," she said.

"Thank god it fell apart."

Roberts' Career Skyrocketed After The Success Of 'Pretty Woman'

After Pretty Woman, Roberts' career soared. She became one of the most famous and beloved actresses on the planet.

She became a staple in romantic comedies in films such as My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997, Notting Hill in 1999, and Runaway Bride that same year. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress thanks to her role the 2000 film Erin Brockovich.

Roberts has also received a British Academy Film Award and three Golden Globe Awards during her career. She was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role in the 2014 television film The Normal Heart.

There's no question that Roberts truly excels at acting. Her illustrious career is proof of that.

Another thing Roberts also excels at is balancing her personal and professional life.

"[The question I'd never want to be asked again is] 'how do you do it all?'" Roberts said. "Because (a) I'm not nearly as busy as people think. (b) Half of everything just doesn't get done."

"As long as no one is in tears, nobody smells bad and everyone's sleeping peacefully, I've done my job. And (c) I have a supportive group of girlfriends, a great husband and an understanding family. The rest gets done with grit, spit and a whole lot of duct tape."

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