Roberts at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Jesus Henry Christ
|Born||Julia Fiona Roberts
October 28, 1967
Smyrna, Georgia, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, executive producer|
|Spouse(s)||Lyle Lovett (m. 1993–95)
Daniel Moder (m. 2002)
|Family||Eric Roberts (brother)
Lisa Roberts Gillan (sister)
Emma Roberts (niece)
Julia Fiona Roberts (born October 28, 1967) is an American actress and producer. She became a Hollywood star after headlining the romantic comedy Pretty Woman (1990), which grossed $464 million worldwide. After winning two Golden Globe Awards and also receiving Academy Award nominations for Steel Magnolias (1989) and Pretty Woman, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Erin Brockovich (2000).
Her films Mystic Pizza (1988), The Pelican Brief (1993), My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), Conspiracy Theory (1997), Notting Hill (1999), Runaway Bride (1999), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Ocean's Twelve (2004), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Valentine's Day (2010), Eat Pray Love (2010), and Mirror Mirror (2012) have collectively brought box office receipts of over $2.6 billion, making her one of the most successful actresses in terms of box office receipts. In 2013, she appeared in August: Osage County, for which she received her fourth Academy Award nomination.
Roberts was one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, topping The Hollywood Reporter's annual "power list" of top-earning female stars from 2005 to 2006. Her fee for 1990's Pretty Woman was $300,000; in 2003, she was paid an unprecedented $25 million for her role in Mona Lisa Smile (2003). As of 2010, Roberts's net worth was estimated to be $140 million. She has been named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" eleven times, tied with Halle Berry. In 2011, she was named one of the "100 Hottest Women of All-Time" by Men's Health.
Early life and family
Roberts was born in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou (née Bredemus; b. 1934) and Walter Grady Roberts (1933–1977). She is of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. Her father was a Baptist, her mother a Roman Catholic, and she was raised a Catholic. Her older brother, Eric Roberts, from whom she was estranged until 2004, sister Lisa Roberts Gillan, and niece Emma Roberts, are also actors. Roberts's parents, one-time actors and playwrights, met while performing theatrical productions for the armed forces. They later co-founded the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, off Juniper Street in Midtown. They ran a children's acting school in Decatur, Georgia, while they were expecting Julia. The children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King attended the school with Walter Roberts acting as Yolanda Denise King's acting coach. As a thank-you for their service, Mrs. King paid Mrs. Roberts's hospital bill when Julia was born.
Her parents married in 1965. Roberts's mother filed for divorce in 1971; the divorce was finalized in early 1972. From 1972 Roberts lived in Smyrna, Georgia, where she attended Fitzhugh Lee Elementary School, Griffin Middle School, and Campbell High School. In 1972, her mother married Michael Motes, who was abusive and often unemployed; Julia despised him. The couple had a daughter, Nancy Motes, who died at 37 on February 9, 2014 of an apparent drug overdose. The marriage ended in 1983, with Betty Lou divorcing Motes on cruelty grounds; she stated that marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. Roberts's own father died of cancer when she was ten.
Roberts wanted to be a veterinarian as a child. She also played the clarinet in her school band. After graduating from Smyrna's Campbell High School, she attended Georgia State University, but did not graduate. She later headed to New York to pursue a career in acting. Once there, she signed with the Click Modeling Agency and enrolled in acting classes.
Roberts made her first big screen appearance in the film Satisfaction (1988), released on February 12, 1988, alongside Liam Neeson and Justine Bateman, as a band member looking for a summer gig. She had previously performed a small role opposite her brother, Eric, in Blood Red (she has two words of dialogue), filmed in 1987 and released in 1989. Her first television appearance was as a juvenile rape victim in the initial season of the series Crime Story with Dennis Farina, in the episode titled "The Survivor", broadcast on February 13, 1987. Her first critical success with moviegoers was her performance in the independent film Mystic Pizza in 1988; that same year, she had a role in the fourth season finale of Miami Vice. In 1989, she was featured in Steel Magnolias, as a young bride with diabetes, and received both her first Academy Award nomination (as Best Supporting Actress) and first Golden Globe Award win (Motion Picture Best Supporting Actress) for her performance.
Roberts became known to worldwide audiences when she starred with Richard Gere in the Cinderella/Pygmalionesque story, Pretty Woman, in 1990. Roberts won the role after Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Karen Allen, and Daryl Hannah (her co-star in Steel Magnolias) turned it down. The role also earned her a second Oscar nomination, this time as Best Actress, and second Golden Globe Award win, as Motion Picture Best Actress (Musical or Comedy). Her next box office success was the thriller Sleeping with the Enemy, playing a battered wife who escapes her abusive husband, played by Patrick Bergin, and begins a new life in Iowa. She played Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991, and also played a nurse in the 1991 film, Dying Young. This work was followed by a two-year hiatus, during which she made no films other than a cameo appearance in Robert Altman's The Player (1992). In early 1993, she was the subject of a People magazine cover story asking, "What Happened to Julia Roberts?" She was offered the role of Annie Reed in Sleepless in Seattle (1993), but turned it down.
Roberts co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief (1993), based on John Grisham's 1992 novel of the same name. In 1996, she appeared in season 2 of Friends (episode 13 "The One After the Superbowl"). Roberts recorded her scenes from January 6–8, 1996. She had a relationship with cast member Matthew Perry at the time, and an audience member said about their on-screen kiss, "Julia looked at Matt and said 'I'm glad we rehearsed this over the weekend'." She was offered the role of Lucy Eleanor Moderatz in While You Were Sleeping (1995), but turned it down.
Roberts co-starred with Liam Neeson in Michael Collins (1996). Over the next few years, she starred in Stephen Frears' Mary Reilly (1996), followed by My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997. In 1998, she appeared on Sesame Street opposite the character Elmo, demonstrating her ability to change emotions. She was offered the role of Viola de Lesseps in Shakespeare in Love (1998), but turned it down. She starred in the films Stepmom (1998), alongside Susan Sarandon, Notting Hill (1999), with Hugh Grant, and, also in 1999, in Runaway Bride, her second film with Richard Gere. Roberts was a guest star on the Law & Order television series episode "Empire" with series regular Benjamin Bratt (at that time her boyfriend). She earned a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
In 2001, Roberts received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich, who helped wage a successful lawsuit against energy giant Pacific Gas & Electric. While presenting the Best Actor Award to Denzel Washington the following year she made a gaffe, saying she was glad that Tom Conti wasn't there. She meant the conductor, Bill Conti, who had tried to hasten the conclusion of her Oscar speech the previous year, but instead named the Scottish actor.
Roberts' first film following Erin Brockovich was the romantic comedy America's Sweethearts along with Billy Crystal, John Cusack, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Directed by Joe Roth, the Hollywood farce centers on a supercouple, Gwen and Eddie, who separate when she dumps him for another man. Roberts portrayed Gwen's once-overweight sister and assistant who has been secretly in love with Eddie (Cusack) for years. Reviews of the film were generally unfavorable: critics' felt that despite its famous cast, the movie lacked "sympathetic characters" and was "only funny in spurts." A commercial success, it grossed over $138 million worldwide however. Later in 2001 she starred in Gore Verbinski's road gangster comedy, The Mexican, giving her a chance to work with long-time friend, Brad Pitt. The film's script was originally intended to be filmed as an independent production without major motion picture stars, but Roberts and Pitt, who had for some time been looking for a project they could do together, learned about it and decided to sign on. Though advertised as a typical romantic comedy star vehicle, the film does not focus solely on the Pitt/Roberts relationship and the two shared relatively little screen time together. Ultimately, The Mexican earned $66.8 million at the U.S. box office.
In fall 2001, Roberts teamed with Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh for Ocean's Eleven (2001), a comedy-crime caper film and remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name, featuring an ensemble cast also including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. Roberts played the ex-wife of leader Danny Ocean (Clooney), originally played by Angie Dickinson, who is flirting with a casino owner, played by Andy Garcia. In preparation for her role, Roberts studied Dickinson's performance by watching the original film at least seven times in order to get her part right. A success with critics and at the box office alike, Ocean's Eleven became the fifth highest-grossing film of the year with a total of $450 million worldwide.
In 2003, Roberts was cast in Mike Newell's drama film Mona Lisa Smile, also starring Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Julia Stiles. Roberts received a record $25 million for her portrayal of a forward-thinking art history professor at Wellesley College in 1953, who teaches conservative students to question their traditional societal roles – the highest ever earned by an actress then. The film garnered largely lukewarm reviews by critics who found it "predictable and safe".
In 2004, Roberts replaced Cate Blanchett in Mike Nichols's Closer, a romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. Also starring Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, Closer explores the relationships of a quartet of lovers tangled in a web of love, lust, sex and betrayal. Also in 2004, the actress reprised the role of Tess Ocean in Soderbergh's crime comedy sequel Ocean's Twelve. Less favored than Eleven, the film became another major success at the box offices with a gross of $363 million worldwide, mostly from its international run. Unlike all the male cast members, Roberts did not appear in her role as Tess Ocean in the series' third and final installment Ocean's Thirteen (2007) due to script issues. In 2005, she was featured in the music video for the single "Dreamgirl" by the Dave Matthews Band; it was her first music video appearance.
Roberts had two films released in 2006: The Ant Bully and Charlotte's Web. Both films were animated features for which she provided voice acting. Her next film was Charlie Wilson's War (2007), with Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Mike Nichols and based on the book by former CBS journalist George Crile; it was released on December 21, 2007. Fireflies in the Garden (2008), also starring Ryan Reynolds and Willem Dafoe, was released at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2008 and was subsequently shown in European cinemas; it did not get a North American release until 2011.
Roberts made her Broadway debut on April 19, 2006 as Nan in a revival of Richard Greenberg's 1997 play Three Days of Rain opposite Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. Although the play grossed nearly US$1 million in ticket sales during its first week and was a commercial success throughout its limited run, her performance drew criticism. Ben Brantley of The New York Times described Roberts as being fraught with "self-consciousness (especially in the first act) [and] only glancingly acquainted with the two characters she plays." Brantley also criticized the production of "Greenberg's slender, elegant play," writing that "it's almost impossible to discern its artistic virtues from this wooden and splintered interpretation, directed by Joe Mantello." Writing in The New York Post, Clive Barnes declared, "Hated the play. To be sadly honest, even hated her. At least I liked the rain—even if three days of it can seem an eternity." Three Days of Rain received two Tony Award nominations in stagecraft categories. In 2009, Lancôme announced that Roberts would become their global ambassador for their company.
Roberts starred with Clive Owen in the comedy-thriller Duplicity for which she received her seventh Golden Globe nomination. In 2010, she appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day, with Cooper, and starred in the film adaptation of Eat Pray Love. Eat Pray Love had the highest debut at the box office for Roberts in a top-billed role since America's Sweethearts. Later in the year, she signed a five-year extension with Lancôme for GB£32 million (US$50 million). In 2011, she co-starred as Mercedes Tainot opposite Tom Hanks who directed and played the title role in the romantic comedy Larry Crowne. The movie received generally bad reviews with only 35% of the 175 Rotten Tomatoes reviews giving it high ratings, although Roberts's comedic performance was praised. Roberts appeared in the 2012 Tarsem Singh adaptation of Snow White, titled Mirror Mirror, playing the Evil Queen.
In 2013, Roberts appeared in August: Osage County, playing one of Meryl Streep's character's three daughters. Her performance in it earned her nominations for the Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, amongst other accolades. It was her fourth Academy Award nomination.
American Girl films
Roberts has brought to life some of the books from American Girl as films, serving as executive producer alongside her sister Lisa. The company's product lines and services are focused on pre-teen-girl characters from various periods of American history, embodied as dolls and featured in narratives including books and movies. Roberts has produced four movies.
Relationships and marriages
Roberts reportedly had romantic relationships with actors Jason Patric, Liam Neeson, Kiefer Sutherland, Dylan McDermott, and Matthew Perry. On June 25, 1993, she married country singer Lyle Lovett; the wedding took place at St. James Lutheran Church in Marion, Indiana. They separated in March 1995 and subsequently divorced. From 1998 to 2001, Roberts dated actor Benjamin Bratt.
Roberts and her husband, cameraman Daniel Moder, met on the set of her film The Mexican in 2000, while she was still dating Bratt. At the time, Moder was married to Vera Steimberg. He filed for divorce a little over a year later, and after it was finalized, he and Roberts wed on July 4, 2002, at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico. Together, they have three children: twins Hazel Patricia and Phinnaeus "Finn" Walter Moder (born November 28, 2004) and Henry Daniel Moder (born June 18, 2007).
Roberts disclosed in a 2010 interview for Elle magazine that she believes in and practices Hinduism. Roberts is a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji). A picture of Neem Karoli Baba drew Roberts to Hinduism.
In September 2009, Swami Daram Dev of Ashram Hari Mandir in Pataudi, where Roberts was shooting Eat Pray Love, gave her children new names after Hindu gods: Laxmi for Hazel, Ganesh for Phinnaeus and Krishna Balram for Henry.
Roberts has given her time and resources to UNICEF as well as to other charitable organizations. On May 10, 1995, Roberts arrived in Port-au-Prince, as she said, "to educate myself". The poverty she found was overwhelming. "My heart is just bursting", she said. UNICEF officials hoped that her six-day visit would trigger an outburst of giving: $10 million in aid was sought at the time.
In 2000, Roberts narrated Silent Angels, a documentary about Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder, which was shot in Los Angeles, Baltimore and New York. The documentary was designed to help raise public awareness about the disease. In July 2006, Earth Biofuels announced Roberts as a spokeswoman for the company and as chair of the company's newly formed Advisory Board promoting the use of renewable fuels. She also supports Gucci's "Chime For Change" campaign that aims to spread female empowerment.
Awards and nominations
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- "Julia Roberts takes up Hinduism". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. August 6, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
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- "UNICEF's Newest Goodwill Ambassador". Jet 88 (3): 12. May 29, 1995.
- Karmali, Sarah (February 28, 2013). "Beyoncé Leads New Gucci Empowerment Campaign". Vogue. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
- Mark Bego. Julia Roberts: America's Sweetheart (New York: AMI Books, 2003). ISBN 1932270094.
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