SHE’S HAD HER OWN FAILED RELATIONSHIPS, BUT IS NOW HAPPILY MARRIED WITH THREE CHILDREN. HOW HARD WAS IT FOR JULIA ROBERTS TO PLAY A WOMAN WHO LEAVES HER MARRIAGE TO SEARCH THE WORLD FOR PERSONAL FULFILMENT? THERE
Julia Roberts really enjoyed the eating part of her new movie, Eat Pray Love.
are times when even a pretty woman has to let herself go, and for Julia Roberts one of those moments came at a pizzeria in Naples during the making of her new film, “I ate eight slices of pizza in 45 minutes,” Roberts says. “Sure, the utter deliciousness of it wore off on slice 7, but there I was, just wolfing it down for womankind across the globe.” Eight slices? Really? “I was so excited to be in Naples that I had my character shove an entire slice of pizza into her mouth during the first take,” Roberts says, laughing. “I didn’t even know why. And there were several takes to go.”
If any of that pizza went to her hips, it’s not apparent on a cool summer morning in California’s Napa Valley as the 42-year-old actress settles in for an interview at a posh hotel. Arriving in a limousine, Roberts walks past a bar full of vacationing wine aficionados who don’t look up as she passes, and sits down to talk about
Looking willowy thin in black, pleated pants and a white-silk Givenchy shirt, Roberts wears her hair dark and flowing over her thin face, and her smile is supersized.
In the film, directed by Ryan Murphy and based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Roberts plays Gilbert, who finds herself trapped in unhealthy habits after a painful divorce and decides to make a radical break with her past, heading on an around-theworld trip that includes extended stays in Italy, India and Bali, where she respectively learns to eat, to pray and to love again. Billy Crudup plays her ex, with Javier Bardem as Gilbert’s future husband, Felipe.
“I gained under 10 pounds (4.5kg) for this movie,” Roberts says. “Let’s set the record straight, because I’ve read it was much, much more. I packed on the pounds during the Italy part of the shoot,” she says, “but then
Eat Pray Love.
C I N DY PE A R L M A N
Eat people said, ‘Oh, you’ll lose it when you film in India.”’ She rolls her eyes. “Somehow I didn’t get that memo,” she says.
It took a great deal of consideration, Roberts says, before she signed on to “When I first had lunch with Ryan, I didn’t have any clue if I’d actually do this project,” she says. “For starters, I’m a mother of three young children and this was a huge work load. This wasn’t just driving to Sony three days a week to shoot on a sound stage. It was shooting around the world. I didn’t know if I could commit my family. And the other issue was Ryan Murphy, who sat there as the most relaxed man in the world. I thought, ‘Who is this guy?”’ To her surprise, instead of giving her a hard sell, Murphy told her that he didn’t want her to take the part unless she could jump in with both feet. “He didn’t want me if I couldn’t give heart and soul,” she says. “And now I’m so glad I did the movie, because I leave it as in love with Ryan as I was on that first day.” The two are developing a new romantic comedy to shoot next year.
The biggest selling point, however, was Gilbert’s memoir, which – like millions of other women – Roberts had devoured when it first appeared. “I read the book before it was hugely popular,” she says. “I’m someone who is easily swayed. I’m always determined not to like something or to like it better than anyone else. When I heard about this book, I didn’t wait for the buzz: I bought two copies and sent one to my best friend in Chicago. I said, ‘This seems special. Let’s read it together.”’
She decided to meet Gilbert herself only after she had sorted out how she would play the character. “I didn’t want to meet her until we got to the first location, which was Rome,” Roberts says. “It was one of the smarter things I’ve done in the last four years. I knew Liz Gilbert on paper, from the book and the script, which
Eat Pray Love.