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WATCH: Marlene King Reveals the De-Gaying of Coming of Age Classic Now and Then

WATCH: Marlene King Reveals the De-Gaying of Coming of Age Classic 'Now and Then'

WATCH: Marlene King Reveals the De-Gaying of Coming of Age Classic 'Now and Then'

Rosie O'Donnell's character, Roberta, was supposed to be a lesbian, but test screenings scared off the studio, King says.

Now and Then, the popular 1995 movie in which four women recall a special summer in their youth, had Rosie O’Donnell’s character changed from lesbian to straight at the last minute, raising the ire of O’Donnell, screenwriter Marlene King has revealed.

 “The script was written, and then we shot [the movie] with the intention of Roberta being gay,” King, an out lesbian who’s now best known as the Pretty Little Liars showrunner, told Entertainment Tonight in an interview (watch below) for the 20th anniversary of the autobiographical film’s release.

The reaction of test audiences meant that had to change, King told ET. They “freaked out,” she said, over a scene in which ob-gyn Roberta, played by O’Donnell, treats Rita Wilson’s character, Chrissy, who has gone into labor.

“They were like, ‘Ew, she’s a lesbian and she’s looking at her vagina!’ And we were like, ‘What? Seriously? Do you really care?’” King recalled. But that happened over and over, so at the behest of New Line Cinema, a line was added in which Chrissy says, “Roberta, for example, has chosen to be alternative. She lives in sin with her boyfriend, but she is still normal.”

This wasn’t King’s decision, she said. “Rosie was really upset when they changed it at the last minute, and we all were,” she added.

The one thing she would change about the movie, King said, is to restore Roberta’s lesbian identity. It would “add an interesting layer to her character,” she told ET, noting that the 1995 reaction “just shows you how backwards it was, and how much times have changed.”

Otherwise, King’s quite satisfied with the film, which also featured Christina Ricci as the teenager Roberta, Ashleigh Aston Moore as the younger Chrissy, Melanie Griffith and Thora Birch as the older and younger versions of Teeny, and Gaby Hoffmann and Demi Moore as the teen and adult Samantha.

King hears from mothers who are sharing the film with their daughters, she told Entertainment Weekly. It’s become an “iconic movie” because of its portrayal of “positive girl friendships,” something that also figures in PLL, she said.

“In this age of bullying that’s so atrocious on social media, I love any movie or TV show that models or shows girls how they should behave with each other,” she told the magazine. “I’ve always said that with Pretty Little Liars and with Now and Then the appeal is the unconditional friendship and unconditional love that these girls have together. That’s the wish fulfillment.”

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Trudy Ring