In the late ’80s, struggling screenwriter J.F. Lawton spent his coffee breaks at his local Hollywood Boulevard doughnut shop, talking with the hookers who worked the boulevard each night. They told him tales of neglectful childhoods, drug abuse and bizarre sexual requests — like the man who hired a pro for a threesome with him and his blowup doll.
Lawton also heard about girls swept off to temporary lives of luxury by rich clients, only to then be dumped back on the streets. One told of “tearing up” at a “Broadway-type” play; another was bewildered by the utensils at a fancy restaurant.
Little did these women know that their sad tales would become the foundation for one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time.
In the Julia Roberts-Richard Gere classic “Pretty Woman,” which was released 20 years ago today, Roberts played Vivian Ward, a streetwalker hired by corporate raider Edward Lewis (Gere) as his escort. Vivian spends a week in Lewis’ privileged existence, and they fall in love.
But the early versions of Lawton’s script, which was then called “Three Thousand,” depicted a darker life for Vivian, complete with drug problems and an ending that placed her back in her pitiful world.