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

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:

Vader WASN'T originally going to be Luke's father

The incredibly small fee Lucas got paid for his first movie

Minority Report started as a Total Recall sequel

Michael Keaton was supposed to be Jack on Lost

How Whedon accidentally got Angel cancelled

How Nick Fury (all 3 of him) got that eyepatch

Spock's Vulcan nerve pinch? It started as a punch

How Star Trek was saved by ... Lucille Ball?

The REAL reason Han was frozen in carbonite

Why Stan Lee put a hyphen in Spider-Man

S.H.I.E.L.D. almost had a VERY different acronym

What Tolkien REALLY wanted to call the 3 Rings volumes

Whedon spent 7 weeks rewriting 'generic' Waterworld script

Originally, Wonder Woman was the JSA's secretary

The Thing once had a happy(ish) ending

Lucas wanted Indiana Jones 2 to be a dinosaur movie

Stan Lee thought Marvel's readers would HATE Iron Man (at first)

Know Yoda's original first name, we do

Uhura's famed Trek kiss wasn't meant to be with Kirk

Studio execs pushed for Chewbacca to wear pants

Millennium Falcon appeared in Blade Runner

Ripley was supposed to DIE at the end of Alien

Homeless James Cameron sold Terminator script for $1

Why Tron's FX got snubbed for an Oscar

Jewel Staite played Amy Pond in Supernatural

Toshiro Mifune turned down Vader role

How a mime saved the original RoboCop

Lucas originally wanted FOUR trilogies

Why Soylent Green was called Soylent Green

R2-D2 appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Gandalf wasn't going to be named Gandalf

A computer glitch almost killed Toy Story 2

The incredibly filthy joke hidden in Willy Wonka

Kirk wasn't Wrath of Khan's only father

The accident that gave us the lightsaber

Scully stood on a box to film X-Files

Kirk's Trek hot rod was Catwoman's, too

James Cameron played the Alien Queen

Why HAL 9000 sang 'Daisy' in 2001

What inspired Alien chestburster scene

3 ways George Lucas' wife saved Star Wars

The brawl that got Mel Gibson the Mad Max gig

James Doohan was shot six times on D-Day

Tolkien killed a Beatles LOTR movie

How Ghostbusters pissed off Isaac Asimov

The lyrics to Star Trek's opening theme

The famous "Wilhelm scream"

More from around the web