Let’s be real: Back in the day, we all sobbed happy/sad tears uncontrollably while watching the ending of the quintessential wedding hijinks movie, 1997’s My Best Friend's Wedding. I mean, when Julia Roberts’ character Julianne loses her true love to Cameron Diaz’s Kimmy, but still has her bestie George faithfully by her side to pick up the pieces, all while wearing a very, um, striking lilac maid of honor gown, we thought we might never feel anything other than bittersweet emotion ever again. But as it turns out, the classic film actually almost ended very different.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, My Best Friend's Wedding director P.J. Hogan revealed 20 years after the fact that when the film first wrapped, test audiences hated it—and they hated Julianne.
“They wanted her dead,” Hogan said. “They just couldn’t understand her motives.”
This wouldn’t fly with studio execs, according to Hogan, especially since in those days, Roberts was basically America’s sweetheart. Thus, Hogan says he was forced to come up with a new way to satisfy the studio and make audiences feel warm and fuzzy at the same time. At first, Julianne was supposed to end up with a random, never-introduced character played by Sex and the City’s John Corbett. But eventually, the movie’s creators opted to focus on George, Julianne’s other best friend (not the one getting married), played by Rupert Everett. Hogan said that originally, the character wasn’t all that prominent in the film, but it turned out he would become the perfect fix for a happier film.
“We expanded his character,” Hogan says of George. “Every time Julianne talked to him, she’d explain why she was doing these terrible things; he’s her conscience throughout. Whenever she was being particularly devious, I’d have her phone Rupert’s character and he would call her out on it.”
In fact, adding more of George to the movie actually happened after filming had already wrapped. He revealed that Roberts came in eight months after shooting had ended (wearing a wig to hide a new haircut, no less) to film the ending we know and love with Everett.
“It would have been such a downer of an ending if George hadn’t shown up,” Hogan said. “That one scene somehow gave the audience permission to forgive Julianne. Those last five minutes really made the whole movie work.”
Now, each morning when you wake up, say a little prayer that everything turned out the way it did in the end.