Julia Roberts is ruling the big & small screen
After a lifetime in film, JULIA ROBERTS is making a television series. Why, some will ask? Because she wants to, says Deborah Herd
WHEN I STARTED WRITING THIS ARTICLE, I asked my 13-year-old daughter if she knows who Julia Roberts is. ‘Of course,’ she said, giving me that look that says ‘I may be a child but I’m not an idiot.’ Then she rattled off some of her recent films – Wonder, Mother’s Day, Eat Pray Love – as if to prove her point. ‘And Notting Hill. Or was that Sandra Bullock?’ she asked.
‘That was Julia Roberts,’ I confirmed. ‘What about Pretty Woman? Have you seen that?’
‘It’s a 16,’ said Jemima, who (long may it last) refuses to watch movies above her age limit.
‘Are you sure?’ I asked, googling the Pygmalion- inspired story of a prostitute (Julia) who falls for Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman. Jemima is right, but what surprised me more was the fact that the romcom that shot the actress to superstardom was made as far back as 1990. Julia Roberts has been the queen of Hollywood for almost 30 years.
Since then, she’s made no less than one movie a year. The only year she didn’t make a movie was 2005, after she and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, welcomed twins Hazel and Phinnaeus. In 2007, when son Henry joined the twins, she made Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks.
But it was the year 2000, 10 years after Pretty Woman, when Julia’s star reached a stratosphere of its own. She became the first actress to command $20-million (about R280-million) for a movie. The film was Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich, which also garnered her the Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe. The same year, she became the first actress to make The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 50 most influential women in show business and People magazine named her the most beautiful person in the world – for the second time. In 2017, a few months before she turned 50, she was awarded the title again for a record-breaking fifth time. It’s hard to argue with that smile.
Since having children, Julia has eased up on the number of films she’s made, fitting each around her life as a self-declared ‘soccer mom’. She has said in interviews that when the kids were younger, she took them on location. Now, movies slot around family life.
Away from her career, Julia has chosen a private life in Malibu where, when she is spotted, she’s dressed casually for the neighbourhood goods market rather than for Rodeo Drive. A good evening, she says, is having dinner with her family, followed by a board game. Her favourite is mah jong.
Late last year, her first-ever TV show, Homecoming, started streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The psychological thriller is based on a podcast and co-stars Bobby Cannavale, Dermot Mulroney and Sissy Spacek – all film stars. Julia says she thinks the story, which is based on two different timelines and has earned rave reviews, is ‘served better’ as a TV show.
If Julia walks into a room packed with Hollywood A-listers there isn’t one whose star shines brighter. She has had – and still has – a career and life that others can only hope to follow.
When you’re the biggest movie star of your generation, it doesn’t matter how a show is screened. It matters only that you want to do it.