Long before the world saw Julia Roberts in her breakthrough role as Vivian Ward in 1990's Pretty Woman, the actress was actually having doubts about playing the character that made her a household name.
In a new Variety interview, the 51-year-old actress says she "had no business being in a movie like that," opposite Richard Gere as Edward Lewis.
"I get the part. The studio that had it -- this small movie company folded over the weekend -- and by Monday, I didn't have a job," Roberts recalls in her Variety Studio: Actors on Actors interview with Patricia Arquette, who also auditioned for the role. "So the script -- there was one producer that stayed with the script -- and then it went to Disney. And I thought, 'Went to Disney? Are they going to animate it? Like how does this become a Disney movie?'"
"Then when [director] Garry Marshall came on, and I think because he's a great human being, he met me just 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 continues. "And they changed the whole thing. And it became something more that is in my wheelhouse."
As for being called "America's Sweetheart" at the time, Roberts admits she's "very unemotional about stuff like that."
"This went very Barbara Walters," she jokes. "I don't feel that I have to live up to something. But I've never been a person that attracted musician energy, where people see a musician in the grocery store, and you go, 'Oh, my god.' I get this kind of energy, like, 'You cut your hair. It still looks cute.'"
Following the success of Pretty Woman, Roberts became the highest-paid actress in Hollywood throughout most of the 1990s and in the first half of the 2000s. "It all seemed kind of ridiculous in a comical way," she remembers. "I thought, 'Oh OK, sure. This is ridiculous, but I'll be part of this party.'"
"And I feel like there are so many -- particularly someone like Barbra Streisand, I think of, that I'm just walking in a path that she has hacked out with a machete," Roberts continues. "So to be a little part of, you know, the gardener that’s picking some weeds that have come up since these incredible women before me have really made a path for all of us to be artists in our own right and to be able to pick and choose the things that we want to do and the way that we want to express ourselves as artists, it was nice to feel that I had a little puzzle piece to that."