Julia Roberts is rebranding herself: ‘I think we need to stop criticizing’


I had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment about Julia Roberts a few months ago. I had a series of realizations about Julia’s attempt at a “comeback,” her grand return to being the biggest movie star in the world. We’re supposed to go along with the story that Julia truly went away for years to raise her kids, but Julia worked somewhat consistently in the past decade, so just don’t pay attention to the “stay-at-home mom” branding. My realization was that Julia is actually sort of jealous of a few other actresses because they’ve carved out some interesting niches for themselves. Julia is jelly of Nicole Kidman because they’re the same age and Nicole has had a full-blown career resurgence over the past few years. Julia is also jelly of Jennifer Garner because Garner has perfected the Whole-Foods-mom-making-churchy-films branding. Julia wants a piece of that action.

So that’s what we’re getting now – Julia at 50, a small dose of churchy and a big dose of preachy, ready for her “comeback,” ready to be beloved and adored again. Are you buying it? Ha. Julia’s promoting Wonder, the film where I swear to God, I thought she was Jennifer Garner. She’s playing the mom to a kid with facial differences. Good Housekeeping profiled Julia, R.J. Palacio and Stephen Chbosky (the screenwriter/author and director). Some highlights from the feature:

On how Julia initially found out about Wonder: “It was getting tricky in my house to have a nighttime chapter book everyone would like, so I bought Wonder, and I could not put it down. I read it to the three kids [Hazel and Phinneaus, now 13, and Henry, now 10], and they were all as knocked out as I had been. I remember calling my agent after I read the book and saying, ‘I’ll play the mom!’”

Julia on how we can all work to be better humans in general: “I think we need to stop criticizing. Honestly, it’s become a sport — at lunch, online, wherever. ‘I can’t believe the way she’s wearing her hair,’ or ‘He looks so…’ It’s all so petty, and we’re grown-up people. There have to be more interesting things to note about one another…and I’m talking to myself here too, because I find the sarcasm and the criticism and stuff like that very humorous, but there’s a time when you go, ‘Well, why don’t I say all the true and kind things’”

Julia and R.J. on the power of kindness: “My mom gave me unconditional love,” says R.J. “I think that’s the one thing we can really do for our kids. Not to say that we have to be blind to their little quirks and faults, but it helps you in life.” Julia agrees, but adds, “I think some people confuse unconditional love with spoiling. None of my kids would think I have a problem with that distinction. I do love them unconditionally, and I try, when they do something wrong, to say, ‘This doesn’t change the amount of love in this house for you, but you’ve got to do your homework.’ Because I think that also makes a child feel safe.”

[From Good Housekeeping]

I have lived long enough to see Julia Roberts try to rebrand herself as an anti-criticism advocate. Julia has always been a judgmental person. She’s always been a critical person. She’s always been the biggest mean girl in the group. She publicly bullied Danny Moder’s ex-wife to get their divorce sped up. Her every move, her every word, her every thought is seeped in judgment, pettiness, criticism and bitchery (and goose-honks). What’s amazing here is that Julia Roberts is now going to be petty and critical of people who are petty and critical. We’ve gone ‘round the bend.


Photos courtesy of Robert Trachtenberg for Good Housekeeping.

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46 Responses to “Julia Roberts is rebranding herself: ‘I think we need to stop criticizing’”

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  1. M says:

    What did she say about his wife?

    • Kaiser says:

      A Low Vera.

      (she got in the middle of Danny’s divorce after she homewrecked him)

      • Radley says:

        She can’t even claim youthful bad judgement for that one. That was messed up and uncalled for. I hope she’s evolved since then, but it’s hard to get past that. I would have been ready for a fight if I were Vera. I mean fisticuffs in the streets.

      • lucy2 says:

        Danny wrecked his own home, but Julia was pretty awful in all that too.

    • Squiggisbig says:

      She wore a tshirt for a pap stroll that said “A Low Vera” on it. His wife at the time was named Vera.

      • Ankhel says:

        Vera and Danny Moder were married and had young children, so Vera tried to convince Danny not to leave. Julia was outraged, which tells you all you need to know about her.

      • Jayna says:

        @Ankhel, Danny and Vera had no children. She admitted they had problems,but they were trying to work through them before Julia entered the picture and destroyed any chance of that.

        She is happily remarried and is a mother now.

      • perplexed says:

        I’m kind of amazed she’s never lost interest in Danny Moder. I always had the impression she needed dozens of men to be interested in her to stay entertained.

  2. Tiffany says:

    The one thing Julia really benefited from was lacking on social media and instant media coverage. I think she now knows she can’t hide behind not having that benefit anymore.

  3. Reef says:

    Am I to understand Julia Roberts wants us to believe she read a book to her teen and pre-teen kids?

    • Radley says:

      That story may be a PR narrative. I mean, she called her agent, said I’ll play the mom and that was that?? Doubt it. Cool story, sis.

      Around 8 your kids don’t want you reading them bedtime stories. And really, it’s best they read on their own by that age, too. I don’t know the timeline on this, but it pings as false.

    • lucy2 says:

      The book is about 5 years old.

  4. detritus says:

    Ahahaha oh no. She won’t stop being critical, she’s just going to aim it at women who don’t meet her new standard, just wait. (she says as she criticizes Julia)

  5. minx says:

    She’s insufferable.

  6. Squiggisbig says:

    I just don’t think there’s a real space for her anymore.

    She’s too old for the rom com roles. She’s not a good actress and it doesn’t matter that she’s the same age as Nicole Kidman because Nicole is a much better actress. She has decades of stories about what a petty bully she is (her half sister, homewrecking/”a low Vera”, leaving Keifer at the altar and running off with his bff, etc) so she can’t do the cutsey Jennifer Garner thing.

    Maybe she could make a comeback playing villains? Kind of like a female Wilhelm DeFoe.

    • Jussie says:

      I think there’s a lot of space for her. But it’s not ‘movie star’ space, and it’s not critically acclaimed ‘prestige’ space. She’s always been in these middle of the road rom-coms and dramas. That was the stuff of movie stars in the 90′s and early 00′s, but now it’s just counter-programming, an afterthought.

      She’ll work just fine, but she’s a legacy movie star now, not an actual one. Whether her ego can take that or not I don’t know.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Exactly. She’s aged out of her niche and isn’t talented enough as an actress to do the roles Nicole is doing. She should move into lifestyle or something. Pull a Goop like Paltrow.

      • Raina says:

        Not in love with Julia but what is this crap I’m reading here about 50 being Too old for romcoms? Or assuming someone’s time has come and gone. That is serious nonsense. Especially in this day and age and certainly not something I hear happening to men nearly as much. So in a decade I should just get ready to go off into the sunset and hang it up? Age is a state of mind. There is still a lot for people to accomplish at 50, 60, whatever. Criticize her for her attitude, acting, anything relevant to her job. But her age has zero to do with it. 50 don’t look like it used to.

      • Huckle says:

        I totally agree with you Raina. A lot of the commenters on this site are really ageist while yelling about feminism and acceptance.

    • Nan says:

      Squiggisbig: Lol, “she could make a comeback playing villains” – YES!!!! Why doesn’t someone write an insane female serial killer script for her where she wears the skin of her victims or something? She’s SCARY!! Why don’t casting agents see this? Lol! I loved this whole Kaiser post because I am so not a fan of catty old stuck-up Julia Roberts.

  7. Astrid says:

    Nope. not buying it. Her time has come and gone.

    • Christin says:

      That’s my take as well. She just isn’t likeable once you get past the big grin and couple of PR soundbites.

      I fully believe that she realized her Star was tarnished after she picked up her ‘hot husband’ and she’s been waiting /trying to resurface the last few years. Keep trying, Jules.

  8. Angel says:

    When she went away she was on top and she honestly thought she could leave for however long and come back at the same level. Well sorry, the world goes on without you, and your older, you can’t make the same rom coms you could before, or be the younger step-mom…you are the first wife now. And she doesn’t want to be that.

  9. Jayna says:

    Wonder is doing amazingly critically and an A-plus Cinemascore, and with a much higher-than-projected box office. They say it nearly doubled expectations box-office-wise coming in at 27 million opening weekend. My sister and niece loved it.

  10. Lucy says:

    All I have to say is that Wonder is a lovely little book (I do recommend it in case anyone is interested), and that I enjoy Chbosky’s work. The movie’s getting pretty good reviews from what I’ve seen.

  11. Valiantly Varnished says:

    The reason why she doesn’t have the career and roles that Kidman has is that she is not even close to being as good an actress. Simple as that. Mix that with her being generally unlikeable and I have a feeling that Hollywood is perfectly happy to NOT cast her in roles

    • lucy2 says:

      Kidman also doesn’t seem to have much vanity about her roles, and will take parts in tiny movies if she is interested in the character. I don’t think Julia has ever done that, her resume is all studio produced, mass market kind of stuff. Which is fine if that’s what an actor likes, but it doesn’t leave too much room for artistry and growth, IMO.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        I completely agree. Julia never cultivated a prestige reputation as an actress or worked on smaller films. She was all about those 20mil paychecks. Which is fine – but to expect that at 50 Hollywood will magically start to see her in a different light is laughable. They aren’t that imaginative and she’s not that talented.

      • emma33 says:

        Yes, good points! I can’t even think of a low-budget, alternative-type movie that Julia has been in, but I can probably list 3 off the top of my head for Nicole. Interestingly, Nicole also moved away from Hollywood and has young kids but has managed to keep her career going strong, probably because she is a lot more flexible and gifted than Julia.

      • perplexed says:

        I think she tried during her 20s to do movies where she could transform (i.e Mary Reilly — she looked so weird in that one). But nobody wanted to see her in those kinds of movies.

      • Jayna says:

        She was in Soderbergh’s very small budget picture Full Frontal, but I don’t know what size part she had.

  12. Jag says:

    She bullied her sister so much that she committed suicide and left a note about it. I can’t stand Julia.

    • April says:

      She’s a covert narcissist. That’s what they do. Everyone thinks they are so great, but they like to be mean and cruel to vulnerable people.

      • Carrie1 says:

        Yep. Her sister and the circumstances around her final years with Julia ostracizing her from their mom really was cruel. All of it. Often wondered what her husband thinks of her since.

  13. Ginger says:

    I work in entertainment; she’s well known as one of the meanest people in the business.

  14. DiegoInSF says:

    I can see her envying Nicole’s career but Garner’s? She doesn’t have one!

  15. Emilymoon says:

    UG No thank you. Is she pretending she wasn’t making movies for the last 10 years because she did, that one with George Clooney and a few others I can think of, but they just weren’t successful so she is trying to market that she has chosen to leave.

    She appeals to a certain American demographic, the ones who do not want to see anything too ‘artsy’, sorry to sound like a snob.

    As a disability activists I am giving Wonder a big fat PASS, sick of the only representation of disability in film being pity and inspiration tropes (especially for children), so very over the whole narrative designed to make ‘normals’ (non-disabled people) feel good about themselves.

  16. perplexed says:

    She’s a hypocrite, but somehow she manages whatever she has to say sound believable. So, in some ways, I do think she’s a pretty good actress.

  17. Layla Love says:

    Please get make her go away. New blood with talent is needed. I’m sick of her whinny horsey face .

  18. Jules says:

    She seems wildly insecure and mega mean girl.