6 Deleted Backstories That Totally Change Classic Movies

If you go through the bonus features on a DVD and watch the deleted scenes, one thing becomes immediately apparent: That shit was deleted for a reason. But, as we've discussed before, sometimes important stuff does get cut from films, and sometimes that stuff includes character moments and backstories that kind of change the whole way you look at the film.

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#6. Pretty Woman -- Julia Roberts' Character Was an Addict

In Pretty Woman, millionaire Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) offers a hooker called Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) $3,000 to spend an entire week living with him and pretending to be his date.

"I can guarantee with 83 percent certainty that I won't murder you."

Despite their differences, Vivian and Edward eventually fall in love and decide to stay together, in a perfectly happy fairy tale ending ...

The Deleted Backstory

... except for the part where Edward now has to deal with her nasty cocaine habit. Yeah, the fact that she's going through withdrawal throughout the entire movie because Edward won't let her get high certainly casts a new light on their relationship.

"That's lovely. Be right back, going to a pawn shop and an alley."

The screenplay for Pretty Woman was originally entitled $3,000 and was much darker and more dramatic. Remember that cutesy scene in the film where Edward thinks that Vivian is concealing drugs in the penthouse bathroom, but it turns out she's only holding dental floss? In the script it goes a little different:

Awesome Film (PDF)

In the finished film, Vivian claims that she doesn't use drugs, but let's examine the evidence, shall we? There are numerous points throughout the movie where Vivian appears to be unusually energetic, restless, and talkative. In fact, her loopy behavior becomes the source of a constant running gag: There are no less than five occasions in the movie where Edward tells Vivian to stop fidgeting. And, of course, fidgeting, restlessness, and manic energy are all common signs of cocaine use.

This isn't a bubble bath.

The only direct reference to cocaine in the film comes from Vivian's friend Kit, who owes a drug debt to a dealer. However, the original script reveals that Kit was a full-fledged junkie about two snorts away from an overdose. At one point, Vivian visits Kit at their apartment and it's apparent that if she chooses to stay with Edward, Kit probably will not survive much longer.

Since Pretty Woman was ultimately produced by Touchstone Pictures, a subsidiary of Disney, there's probably no way in hell the protagonist was going to be a cokehead. Ironically, considering how much money this film made for Hollywood producers, there's a huge chance some of that money went back to coke anyway.

#5. The Ring -- Rachel Passes the Curse on to a Child Murderer

In The Ring, Naomi Watts plays Rachel, a journalist who finds a mysterious cursed videotape that causes people to die seven days after watching it (the Rotten Tomatoes rating on that thing must be brutal).

"Shoddy editing, dull characters, caused girl to crawl out of my TV set and kill me. 3/10."

After finding the tape in an isolated motel, Rachel (dumbly) brings it home and shows it to her young son and ex-boyfriend, unwittingly cursing them both. After the boyfriend dies, Rachel realizes that the only way to save her son's life is to make a copy of the tape and show it to someone else, therefore passing on the curse. But who's gonna be the poor sap who will die so that her kid can live? Will she give it to a terminal cancer patient? Send it to America's Funniest Home Videos? Or what?

"I'm the only person left who still owns a VCR, so I'm pretty much fucked."

The Deleted Backstory

An early cut of the film solved this problem by introducing a new character: a charming serial child murderer/rapist played by Chris Cooper.

We're just gonna go ahead and guess that he would have worn the same facial hair as in Adaptation.

The film originally opened with Rachel doing a story on Cooper's character, who is trying to get Rachel's help to get paroled. Rachel goes "Yeah, nope" and forgets about the guy, but then remembers him when she needs to unload that pesky curse of hers. The original ending, as filmed, featured Rachel delivering the videotape to Cooper's cell, because, hey, if you just have to pass on a fatal curse to someone, it might as well be a total douche-tank.

"In fact, maybe you could organize a movie night with the other rapists or something."

So why was he cut? According to the actor, after being introduced to his character, test screening audiences spent the rest of the film asking, "Well, where's Cooper?" Audiences seemed to find this child murderer a lot more intriguing than that creepy long-haired girl climbing out of the well, so they were pretty disappointed when he didn't reappear until the end. And so the filmmakers just cut him out of the film, completely missing the opportunity to Photoshop Cooper's face onto the girl.

#4. Back to the Future Part III -- Biff's Ancestor Murdered Principal Strickland's Grandfather

Mr. Strickland is the ageless, hairless high school principal in the Back to the Future movies. In Back to the Future Part II, we see Strickland get into a hostile confrontation with a teenage Biff Tannen and confiscate his nudie magazine (disguised as a sports almanac).

He's been confiscating innocent-looking magazines for 20 years, just waiting for this moment.

Principal Strickland gave Biff so much shit during high school that, when Biff becomes the most powerful man in Hill Valley in an alternate timeline, he retaliates by burning the school down and having his thugs systematically terrorize Strickland for the next decade. So why did Strickland hate Biff so much in the first place? Granted, he probably hates everyone, but there's actually a deeper reason for their rivalry ...

The Deleted Backstory

According to a deleted scene from Back to the Future Part III, Biff's ancestor killed Strickland's grandfather in the Old West, so there's that. Strickland's grandfather was the town marshal of 1885 Hill Valley, and his biggest enemy was the notorious outlaw Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, who, of course, happens to be Biff's great-grandfather.

There's only room for one epic mustache in this town.

Curiously, Marshal Strickland is nowhere to be seen when Buford is arrested near the end of the movie, but there's an explanation for that: He's dead. In the deleted scene, Buford is on his way to his climactic gunfight with Marty when he is stopped by Strickland. Buford responds by shooting the marshal in the back and leaving him to die in the arms of his young son.

So, yeah, all things considered, Principal Strickland actually shows some admirable restraint around Biff. It must be pretty awkward when one of your students is also the descendant of the man who murdered your grandfather, we're guessing.

The scene was cut because it was too dark, but when you think about it, the implications are even worse. Strickland was killed while Buford was on his way to confront Marty -- meaning that if Marty hadn't traveled back to 1885 and changed the timeline, none of that would have happened. In other words, Marty is indirectly responsible for his principal's grandfather's death.

We know he called you names and stuff, Marty, but that was a little excessive.

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