The movie that inspired viewers to ride off into the sunset on horseback with their true love and to eat eggs Benedict. While it may have been years since Runaway Bride debuted in the late 1990s, the rom-com remains as endearing and clever every time fans rewatch it.
First released in July 1999, Runaway Bride was a smash hit that reunited Julia Roberts, Richard Gere and director Garry Marshall nine years after they struck gold with Pretty Woman. The flick followed small-town girl Maggie Carpenter (Roberts) who’s so commitment-phobic that she ran away from her wedding plans three different times and divorced newspaper columnist Ike Graham (Gere) is intent on writing an exposé about the serial almost-bride. As he sticks around town longer, in true rom-com fashion, the pair gets to know one another and soon falls in love.
While Roberts and Gere had history and chemistry together ever since Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride initially wasn’t meant to star them too. Before Marshall (who died in 2016) was attached to direct the picture, a whole slate of Hollywood mega-stars were brought in to test for the roles of Maggie and Ike, including Harrison Ford, Geena Davis, Demi Moore, Mel Gibson, Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. It took nearly 10 years to get the movie made before it became the romantic gem it’s now recognizable as.
By 1996, Bullock was an early frontrunner for the role of Maggie before the producers and writers completely overhauled the script. From there, producers sought a younger cast for the roles and asked Affleck and Tea Leoni to read the parts. However, Affleck soon passed on the role before Gere was approached next.
Lakeshore Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rosenberg recalled to the Los Angeles Times in August 1999 that he gave the Nights in Rodanthe actor the updated script right away once it was polished.
After Gere read the script, the actor called him up and said, “I love it. If you can get Julia, I’m in.” At the time, Rosenberg told the news outlet, “People have been trying to get them back together for nine years. And suddenly it happened — it was all settled in a week.”
Finding the right director was equally as hard as finding the stars.
“Most directors don’t look at romantic comedies as a good vehicle for them,” producer Robert Cort also told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “Until Garry Marshall came in, our directors always had some reservations about the material.” In fact, it took Marshall serious convincing from both Roberts and Gere to reunite for this flick. But he eventually gave in.
Coming back together was natural for the three household names, but this time, Gere was more than ready to bring the funny. “Richard had been very cautious on Pretty Woman, but this time he was a lot more willing to be funny,” Marshall previously told the California newspaper. “Mostly we talked in our own little shorthand. All I had to do was yell ‘Action’ and ‘Shut up.’”
While Runaway Bride performed decently at the box office, many viewers still believe it can’t hold a candle to Pretty Woman‘s Cinderella story — including its stars.
”Whatever that magic was in the first movie, you can’t make that happen,” Gere told Entertainment Weekly in August 2012. “While there’s some wonderful stuff in the movie, it certainly didn’t have the magic of the first one. The expectation that it was going to have that same kind of delicious magic was irresponsible. It was a different movie, it was a different time, she was in a different place, I was in a different place.”
Scroll down to see where the cast of Runaway Bride is now: