Why Julia Roberts stopped making romantic comedies (and why this year she will return to them)

In a recent interview with The New York Times, actress Julia Roberts explained the three reasons why she hasn’t done a romantic comedy in 20 years. First, she hasn’t found a script that lives up to her classics like Pretty Woman, Notting Hill or My Best Friend’s Wedding. Second, her role as a homemaker and mother of three has kept her happily busy. And in the third motif, Roberts dares to explore her own subconscious: “Perhaps it was a reaction to having a happy life. Why would I want to leave a happy life to pretend I have a happy life? Which leads to another question: Did Julia Roberts make six romantic comedies in 12 years to make up for the unhappiness she felt in her personal life?

Why Julia Roberts stopped making romantic comedies

“I’m just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia, who wanted to be in movies and get attention,” admitted the actress, who achieved both in spectacular fashion. In 1986, three days after graduating from her high school in Smyrna, a suburban Atlanta town of 30,000, Roberts moved to New York to pursue her dream. Two years later she was leading the cast of Mystic Pizza, which was a surprise hit, and at 23 she already had two Golden Globes and two Oscar nominations (for Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman ). At that time she fell on her shoulders the title of “America’s sweetheart”.

The entire country, and by extension the world, seemed to have fallen in love with Julia Roberts. Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall called her “a cross between Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and Bambi.” The press melted away from her when describing her hair, her legs, or her smile. Peter Travers admired in Rolling Stone that “his smile is the closest cinema has come to capturing sunlight.” She had such a stage presence that people imagined her taller than she really is: the first thing Steven Spielberg told her when he met her was that he expected her to be over six feet tall (Roberts is 5’7″). Roberts represented an impossible feminine ideal full of contradictions. She is classic but contemporary. Innocent, but sophisticated. Fragile, but strong. Uneducated, but savvy. And with a laugh that sounded as vulgar as magical. Her co-star Sally Field highlighted her vulnerability: “There’s something that makes you want to take care of her. The men think that she is extraordinarily beautiful and the women think that they went to school with her, that she could be best friends with her.”

There has always been talked of the actress’s ability to seduce over short distances and to make each person with whom she interacts feel good. Director Steven Soderbergh summed it up: “Her smile of hers can transform a room. And her laugh contains so much joy, it’s so vulnerable, that you find yourself doing anything to hear it again.” Audrey Hepburn herself seemed to crown her heir when she, being too ill to collect the Screen Actors Guild honorary award, sent Roberts as her representative. “Thank you to everyone who turned an unknown, insecure, inexperienced, scrawny woman into a commercial product,” Roberts said on behalf of Hepburn.

All the Hollywood scripts passed by his table. She was even offered to play the black slave liberator Harriet Tubman (a project that was finally starred by a black actress, Cynthia Erivo, in 2019). But just a year after reaching the top of it with Pretty Woman, the press was speculating that Roberts was an alcoholic, anorexic, a heroin addict, or all three.

The summer of 1991 was declared open hunting season against Julia Roberts. The trigger was the cancellation of her wedding to Kiefer Sutherland three days before the ceremony, which was to be held at the Fox studios. Her five-day stay in a hospital sparked all kinds of rumors and her tendency to have relationships with classmates cast (Liam Neeson in Satisfaction, Dylan McDermott in Steel Magnolias, Sutherland in Deadline ) made her an obsession with the tabloids and their readers. America’s girlfriend couldn’t find anyone who wanted her.

Roberts took refuge in an Irish town with actor Jason Patric. The receptionist then gave an interview in which she described her as “exhausted” and she inevitably stopped at her disappointing hair: “She had a straw-orange color that looked like a misplaced dye.” Rumors of a “difficult actress” began: that she had thrown away her slippers or that on the set of Hook (1991) she was nicknamed “Tinkerhell” (a play on words between the name of her character, Tinkerbell, and “hell”). Spielberg, instead of coming to her defense, admitted on the television show 60 Minutes that with all the wedding fuss canceled “it wasn’t a good time to be working with her.” Jason Patrick testified, after the breakup of their brief relationship, that she had brought all that attention and all that trouble on her own to become more famous. Even a journalist from Vanity Fair snapped at him , in the middle of a cover interview, “you are famous for being a good actress and you are infamous for the actors you have fucked”.

Roberts herself analyzed the celebrity cycle. She pointed out that the first mistake is to consider movie stars superior beings. “It puts us on a level above other people. And then the situation becomes tense because first, they make you someone different from them, and then they are offended by that position: ‘What do you do better than me?’ This causes discomfort. And the rumors and the gossip not only bring you down to the level where you started but even lower, to be able to say: ‘Well, look, he was never better than the others.’ A year after earning $7 million per film, the actress received an offer from Larry Flynt to pose nude for his Hustler magazine. The price? One million dollars. And then Julia Roberts disappeared.

Where is Julia?

To this day, it remains unknown what Roberts did during the two years she spent completely away from the spotlight. In 1993 she reappeared married (with singer Lyle Lovett) and the public received her with open arms (thanks to the thriller The Pelican Brief, which hid Roberts’s smile until the last shot), but that triumphant return remained a mirage. Less than two years later she was divorced and chaining one failure after another: I like trouble, Something to talk about, Mary Reilly or Michael Collins were perceived as attempts by Roberts to break with the image of a friendly romantic heroine of her.

“Julia is resisting making the movies that the public wants to see of her,” noted a Hollywood executive. “I wonder how long the patience of the public will last. Julia wants to be Meryl Streep, but she is not. She is a movie star trying to be an actress.” In 1996 the magazine Fotogramas wrote: “she predicted a promising future in the cinema, but her presence did not fully consolidate. Despite this, she marked an era.” Officially Julia Roberts was an old glory with 28 years.

But in 1997 the actress finally embraced her stardom and decided to play the best role of her career: Julia Roberts. My Best Friend’s Wedding was billed as “Julia Roberts Plays Bad” and certainly only she could have pulled off such an unlikable character on paper. She played a woman who, despite succeeding professionally, felt like a spinster because she was already 27 years old, so she tried to boycott her friend’s wedding to win him over. In her recent interview for The New York Times, the actress assures that her decision to return to the romantic comedy was not due to a premeditated strategy but, as Hollywood works, it is hard to believe that there was not some intention to reconcile with the public: she even recovered, after six years, the hair long and shiny with which she had become famous.

The actress would begin to apply her sense of humor to her own films. She was about winking at the public in what, although they may not seem like it today, were very risky decisions. Whereas in Runaway Bride she played a woman from a Midwestern town who ran away from all her weddings eight years after Kiefer Sutherland’s sit-in, Notting Hill directly proposed a corkscrew jump: Roberts played the most famous actress in the world. world, persecuted by the paparazzi and cornered by systemic machismo. The actress said that she accepted her role, among other things, because she knew that everyone was going to assume that her character was based on her. But Notting HillIt wasn’t so much a movie about Julia Roberts as it was a movie about her stardom. And, far from being perceived as a narcissistic boutade, by the end of the film, the audience was once again in love with Roberts.

At this time the actress learned to deal with the press. When she read in a magazine that Sandra Bullock had replaced her as “the woman most Americans want to date at the bowling alley,” she decided to give Vanity Fair a cover interview at a bowling alley. One night she was photographed dancing with Ethan Hawke and she reacted by demarcating her freedom to “dance” with whoever she wanted: “I love dancing and I’m going to keep dancing. In fact, I plan to dance as much as I can with as many people as possible. I’m going to dance until I fall flat.” In 2005, he gave an interview lying in a hospital bed seven months pregnant. “Listen,” she told the reporter, pointing to her twin’s heartbeat, “that’s her. And that’s him. Isn’t that amazing?” After all, she is aware that this closeness is what made her a star. She herself says that people come to greet her as if she were an old friend of hers. “They tell me ‘My daughter is just like you, or ‘You’ve cut her hair… well, she’ll grow up”.

hello real life

Throughout the first decade of her career, Julia Roberts reached an unprecedented power in Hollywood: she was the only woman among the few stars capable of guaranteeing a box office number 1 with her sole presence, the only one with a contractual clause to approve her co-star; She was the first actress to accumulate 1 billion euros at the box office and the first to equal the maximum salary of the actors when she received 19 million euros for Erin Brockovich. That milestone was crowned with an Oscar in 2001 and marked a turning point in her career: since then, Roberts has not shot any romantic comedy.

As in Notting Hill, Roberts only found love when he stopped trying with stars and gave an anonymous man a chance. In 2003 she married cameraman Danny Moder, they had three children, and she began living her own romantic comedy. The one who was the most famous woman in the world recognizes that she “vibrates” with daily successes such as making homemade pasta and that it turns out delicious. She assures us that she would love to reach more milestones in her career to impress her husband and her children. And she is “proud” of getting up early every day to prepare breakfast, take her children to school and return from her walk in the countryside in time to prepare dinner: “Now that I am a desperately satisfied housewife I do not work so much”.

The last two decades of her career are filled with supporting characters ( Ocean’s Eleven, Mirror Mirror ), mother roles ( Wonder, Ben Is Back ), and prestige dramas ( Closer, August ). In the series Homecoming she played a government employee so gray that, in the only moment of the ten episodes in which she laughed, the scene was cut abruptly so that the viewer understood that this was not the Julia Roberts that she expected. . But this year yes. The actress returns to romantic comedy with Ticket To Paradise (which opens in September).

After reading the script, he made the only condition that his partner is George Clooney: “This movie would only work if he did it.” The actor accepted. The good news is that she herself claims that her muscles for her romantic comedy are still in top form.

Last week he premiered the series Gaslit on Starzplay, his first role in four years. She plays the wife of Nixon campaign manager Martha Mitchell, who played a key role in the Watergate affair. The character analyzes the journalist David Marchese, and offers “the complete Julia experience”. “Martha’s brightest moments give Roberts a chance to exude the charisma and sass that lit up his earlier, lighter films. Then, as the story goes into the more sinister territory, she turns to the darker, finer work that has defined the last few years of her career.” In the first scene of the series, a young girl watches her on television without being able to take her eyes off her. “God, she’s so cheesy,” she murmurs to herself. “Although I like her smile, really.”

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