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The Truth About Pretty Woman's Famous Jewelry Box Scene

Now one of the most famous romantic comedies of all time, Pretty Woman, directed by Garry Marshall, came out in 1990. It stars Julia Roberts in one of her most recognizable roles as Vivian Ward, the kind, good-natured Hollywood sex worker. When Vivian is hired by a wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), to act as his girlfriend for the week, the two end up falling in love.

The rom-com — which almost had way more of a downer ending — is full of memorable moments, such as when Vivian tells off a salesperson who wouldn't help her ("BIG mistake! Big! Huge!") and the final scene on the fire escape when Vivian gets her happy ending. But there's one scene, in particular, that is perhaps most closely associated with Vivian and Edward's story.

This moment, of course, is the jewelry box scene. In it, Vivian appears in a gorgeous red dress, ready to go out for the evening, when Edward tells her the outfit is missing something. He then pulls out a necklace box and, as Vivian is delicately reaching her hand in to touch it, Edward quickly snaps it shut. Vivian erupts in laughter. It's an incredibly charming scene and understandably became instantly iconic. But there's a fascinating story behind the interaction.

The jewelry box scene in Pretty Woman was unscripted

Director Garry Marshall revealed back in 2012 that the jewelry box moment was actually not in Pretty Woman's script. He told Entertainment Tonight that it was originally intended as a prank on Roberts and that he figured it would be a fun moment to go in the film's gag reel, where movie mistakes often end up.

Marshall explained that Roberts, just 23 years old at the time of filming, would often show up to set pretty tired in the mornings after partying at night. Marshall continued, "I said, 'Richard, you gotta wake her up a little, so when she reaches for the box, slam it.' It was a soft box. I would never hurt her."

Marshall, with the editing team, then decided at the very last minute to include the laughing scene in the film — and it fits perfectly as a silly moment between the two love interests before the camera cuts to Edward putting the necklace on Vivian. In the interview, Marshall acknowledged how the sweet interaction became "the trademark of the movie."