THE US$4 Billion Question
SHE'S STILL ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S BIGGEST PULLS, ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, FACE OF A FRENCH FASHION ICON AND A HAPPY FAMILY WOMAN. AND SHE NEVER EVEN WANTED TO ACT. HERE'S TO JULIA ROBERTS – AND THE BEST BACK-UP CAREER IN MODERN HISTORY
Julia Roberts never wanted to be an actress: her family treaded the boards and besides, she much preferred spending time with wildlife. Sure, she played a mean clarinet. But band practice aside, Roberts was committed to animals. The self-confessed ' coaster' and native of a small town in northern Georgia would never have guessed that less than three decades later she'd be one of Hollywood's biggest stars and owner of a globally recognised face used to sell one of France's best-loved cosmetics brands. No. But it was all to come, after Roberts figured she had "an inability to deal with science on a brainiac kind of level" and slipped into a lucrative second career.
The love for animals wasn't lost. In 2000 Roberts tripped to central Asia, where, in the green, reedy steppe of sub-Siberian Mongolia, she shot a documentary on the majesty of the Mongolian mustang – Przewalski's Horse – for PBS. By then she was no longer the boy-shy band camp nerd but a global star, despite repeated pleas that she was still an "utterly average total geek". At the turn of the 21st century Julia Roberts was a household name; a Hollywood heavyweight and veteran of a rock 'n' roll romance-turned-sour.
Average she may have been, but average, come 2000, Roberts most definitely was not. Hers is a career that shot up early and just kept on going. "Julia Roberts: that's a movie star," said Kate Winslet once. This is the story of a woman who has become a byword for fame. But, of course, it wasn't always that way.
Julia Roberts was born in Smyrna, a town of 50,000 on the banks of Georgia's bucolic Chattanoochee River and nestled deep in the Bible Belt. Mum and dad, Betty Lou and Walter, were playwrights and actors who founded a workshop in the nearby metropolis of Atlanta. Roberts' elder brother (Eric) and younger sister (Lisa) would both go on to forge successful careers in Hollywood. But despite Julia's unconcern for acting she'd become the best-known of the three.
That trajectory began when she left high school in 1985 and, throwing aside her dream of working as a