It was the movie that cemented Julia Roberts' status as the rom-com queen of the 1990s.

But the actress has revealed Pretty Woman was originally supposed to be a far darker tale and brace yourselves, it's grim.

Roberts revealed she had been cast in the movie when it was originally called 3000 while being interviewed by Patricia Arquette for Variety's latest Actors on Actors conversation.

During the interview Arquette revealed she had missed out on the role of Vivian Ward in 3000 that eventually went to Roberts.

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The first script saw Julia Roberts' character meet a far grittier end. Photo / Getty Images
The first script saw Julia Roberts' character meet a far grittier end. Photo / Getty Images

Arquette said most fans of Pretty Woman would be surprised to know it was originally known as 3000 and had a "pretty heavy" ending.

"Threw her out of the car, threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley," Roberts recalled.

"Right. So it really read like a gritty art movie. When you first read it, it was that incarnation," Arquette added.

Roberts explained she had won the role but then the production company went bust over the weekend "and by Monday, I didn't have a job".

"There was one producer that stayed with the script, and it went to Disney. I thought, 'Went to Disney? Are they going to animate it?'" Roberts said.

"(Director) Garry Marshall came on, and because he's a great human being, he felt it would only be fair to meet me, since I had this job for three days and lost it.

"And they changed the whole thing. And it became more something that is in my wheelhouse."

Marshall's version of Pretty Woman starring Roberts and Richard Gere was released in 1990 and is now one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time.

It also launched the careers of Gere and Roberts, with the actress going on to star in a string of romantic comedy box office smashes.

In 2017 former Disney studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg revealed that changing Pretty Woman into a romantic comedy took some convincing.

Pretty Woman starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere and was released in 1990. Photo / Getty Images
Pretty Woman starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere and was released in 1990. Photo / Getty Images

"As a script, Pretty Woman was an R-rated movie about a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard. By the way, in the original version — it's pretty dark — I think she died of an overdose," he said.

"So convincing (people) that we should make that at the Walt Disney Co, and that it's a fairy tale and a princess movie, a lot of people had a hard time seeing it. But, as they say, the rest is history."

In 2015 scriptwriter J.F. Lawton told People that the movie was supposed to end with Vivian and her friend Kit on a bus for Disneyland to spend Edward's money while Vivian "stares out emptily ahead".

But the ending was later changed to Edward arriving at Vivian's rundown apartment and conquering his fear of heights to scale a fire escape and 'rescue' her.