Richard Gere Pays Tribute To Late ‘Pretty Woman’ Director Garry Marshall

Richard Gere is remembering late Hollywood director Garry Marshall, who died at age 81 from complications of pneumonia. After the death of the Hollywood legend was announced, Gere issued a statement about his former boss, who directed him in the hit romantic comedies Pretty Woman and The Runaway Bride. Gere described the late film and TV creator as “one of the funniest men who ever lived.”

“Garry, of course, was one of those truly important people one is blessed to meet in one’s lifetime,” Gere said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. “Besides being the pulse and life force of Pretty Woman — a steady helmsman on a ship that could have easily capsized — he was a super fine and decent man, husband and father who brought real joy and love and infectious good spirits to everything and everyone he crossed paths with.”

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Gere went on to describe how beloved the late TV and movie director was.

“Everyone loved Garry,” Richard said. “He was a mentor and a cheerleader and one of the funniest men who ever lived. He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Richard Gere said he turned down the part in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman several times before his eventual co-star, Julia Roberts, convinced him to take it during a phone call with Marshall. Roberts revealed that the famed director left her and Richard Gere alone in a room to get to know each other.

“To be honest, I didn’t know if I was doing this movie yet,” Richard said. “[Julia’s] across the desk, we’re getting to know each other, we’re flirty-flirty, nice-nice. And [Garry] calls up and it’s kind of like, ‘How’s it going?’ And I’m going, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and she takes a piece of paper. She turns it around, and she pushes it to me. It said, ‘Please say yes.’ It was so sweet. And I was like [miming talking on the phone], ‘I just said yes.'”

During an appearance on CBS’ The Talk earlier this year, the Pretty Woman director revealed that Gere ultimately got naked on the set of the 1990 movie. While Julia Roberts was against doing any nude scenes, Gere had a different attitude.

“Richard Gere on the other hand…by the third day of the picture, he came on the set, he took all of his clothes off,” Marshall explained. “Because he said everybody’s talking about the movies he had done nude – he took his clothes off and they all said, ‘look there he is’…and he said, ‘fine let’s move on.’ I must say, there was an applause when he did that!”

Gere, Roberts, and Marshall also made a pact that there would not be a Pretty Woman 2 unless they all agreed to it. They never made a sequel.

Richard Gere went on to co-star with Julia Roberts in another Marshall movie, The Runaway Bride, in 1999. In an interview with Access Hollywood, the famous director revealed that he used a trick to get Gere and Roberts to appear that they were in love during one particularly challenging shoot. Marshall explained that Gere and Roberts were both in a bad mood on location one day, and they couldn’t look each other in the eye during a scene when they were supposed to be madly in love. The clever director revealed that he got a kite and had it flying in the sky to make the actors look up!

Earlier this year, Marshall talked about the upcoming Pretty Woman musical, telling Vanity Fair that he wanted to expand upon Richard Gere’s character, Edward, for the stage show.

“I must confess that the original Pretty Woman was terrific and a hit, but I always felt that creatively I didn’t do justice to Richard Gere’s character,” Garry said. “So in the musical, we have some great, new moments for Richard’s character. Julia Roberts has already said, ‘I’m coming to opening night.’…We’re still in the creative process, but I think there’s a couple of different things that I can do to help make the Broadway musical even better and certainly more positive.”

Marshall’s plans to flesh out Gere’s character for a musical version of the story included delving more into Edward’s background and relationship with his father.

Take a look at the video below to see Richard Gere and the Pretty Woman cast reuniting for the first time in 25 years for the anniversary of the classic movie.

[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]