Little-known sci-fi fact: The Fifth Element's three original stars

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Nov 14, 2013, 1:07 PM EST (Updated)

Before Bruce Willis and company stepped in, the cast of The Fifth Element looked a little different.

Writer and director Luc Besson famously began working on what would become The Fifth Element as a teenager, though the final film didn't make it to theaters until 1997, when he was 38 years old. The delay between conception and filming was in part because Besson wanted as much creative control as possible when it came time to finally make the flick, but there was also a delay in development. According to legendary fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who designed the costumes for the film, production was originally supposed to begin in 1992, but filming didn't happen "due to a lack of financing." 

Gaultier's entire career is the subject of a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and it includes some of his personal insights into making The Fifth Element with Besson. Among the artwork on display at the exhibit is Gaultier's original costume design for the character of Ruby Rhod, the relentlessly over-the-top talk-show host. 


The design also includes a story from Gaultier about the original actor who would've inhabited this costume: legendary musician Prince, who apparently dismissed the outfit as "too effeminate." But that's not the only revelation Gaultier treats us to. Apparently, back in 1992, not only was Prince on board to play Ruby Rhod, but the roles of Korben Dallas and Leeloo were set to be played by Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts.

Yes, Besson originally envisioned the starts of Lethal Weapon and Pretty Woman as the former-soldier-turned-down-on-his-luck-cab-driver and the strange woman who would save the world. Eventually, though, as the film got back on the rails a few years later, Besson opted for different casting choices, and we got Bruce Willis as Korben, Milla Jovovich as Leeloo and Chris Tucker as Ruby. The final product turned out to be a sci-fi classic, so it's hard to tell now if the original casting choices would've been better or worse than what we eventually got. One thing's for sure, though: It's really hard to picture Julia Roberts in Leeloo's first costume.

(via io9)

And check out these other little-known sci-fi facts:

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