Gere/Roberts: Touchstone Pictures
Liane Bonin
July 26, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Considering that ”Pretty Woman” raked in almost $200 million at the U.S. box office, it’s hard to understand why it’s taken nine long years for Julia Roberts and Richard Gere to reteam in ”Runaway Bride” (opening Friday). After all, it hasn’t been for lack of effort. Over the years, the ”Pretty” pair have been linked to the special-effects vehicle ”Manhattan Ghost Story,” a remake of the classic ”To Catch a Thief,” and ”Intolerable Cruelty,” a project from ”Fargo” masterminds Joel and Ethan Coen. So what happened? ”You’d think, based on how successful ‘Pretty Woman’ was, there’d be a cottage industry of people writing scripts for us,” says Gere. ”And there may well be, but none of them were any good.”

At first, Gere’s leading lady wasn’t even convinced that the script for ”Runaway Bride” was up to par. ”I called her up and said, ‘Whether I do this or not, you should, because this is a great part,”’ says Gere. ”I could see her in it much more clearly than I could myself.” But Roberts told Gere she vaguely recalled having read, and passed, on the project, which had been floating around Hollywood for almost a decade. Still, she agreed to take a second look. ”We met in my office, and two days later we were making the movie,” says Gere. ”I’ve never known a picture to come together so quickly.” You call nine years and two days quickly? Only if you’re working on ”Eyes Wide Shut.”

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