How Old Was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman?

Who couldn’t love Vivian Ward, Julia Roberts’ character in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman”? She’s a straightforward and strong-willed young woman who knows how to drive a stick and looks great even with that distractingly stiff wig on. She’s also a sex worker, which no doubt had some influence on her personality, giving her experiences that would make her wise beyond her years. 

How Old Was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman


Playing a sex worker was a first for Roberts, a relatively new actress at the time, and it was definitely a risk career-wise. But Roberts was no stranger to playing complex characters. “Pretty Woman” was released just one year after “Steel Magnolias,” in which Roberts played Shelby Eatenton Latcherie, a woman with severe diabetes who wants to be a mother so desperately that she would sacrifice her life to have a baby. The performance would ultimately earn her the 1990 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

Success in “Steel Magnolias” aside, Roberts almost didn’t star in “Pretty Woman” at all, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan both almost snagging the role of Vivian. The film — originally entitled “3,000” — was conceived by screenwriter J.F. Lawton as a drama about the dangerous lives of Hollywood sex workers in the late 1980s (via Biography). The movie would have ended on a much bleaker note had it not been for the original production company, Vestron Pictures, going out of business. While Roberts had secured the role before Vestron went under, director Garry Marshall’s light-hearted alterations to the story would align the film better with Roberts’ acting experience.

Being only a couple of years into her acting career by the time “Pretty Woman” hit theaters, Julia Roberts must have been fairly young in the film. Keep reading to find out just how young she was.

Julia Roberts didn’t stay in the background for long. Her first acting credit was for her 1987 appearance on the television series “Crime Story,” in which she played a small role as a survivor of sexual assault (via IMDb). It would only be another year until she landed her first major role as Daisy in “Mystic Pizza.” “Steel Magnolias” would be released the following year, and then came “Pretty Woman.” These back-to-back projects propelled Roberts into the spotlight, establishing her as a talented young starlet who could handle both romantic comedies and dramas.

The filming of “Pretty Woman” commenced July 24, 1989, and continued for nearly three months, wrapping October 18, 1989. Roberts was born October 28, 1967, making her only 22 years old when “Pretty Woman” was shot! The actress was so young to already be so successful, and her skill in “Pretty Woman” is even more impressive given the fact that she played her role so effortlessly opposite Richard Gere, who turned 41 during the filming period — making him just over 18 years her senior. Despite the age gap, the two had such great onscreen chemistry that they teamed up again for the 1999 movie “Runaway Bride” (and they have a great offscreen friendship, too).

Roberts’ performance in “Pretty Woman” would earn her the 1991 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), a well-deserved accolade for her. So, next time someone says you’re too young to achieve great things, point them to Julia Roberts’ acting career — enough said.

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