Julia Roberts: Rom-coms ‘just don’t work at a certain point of life experience’

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I’m trying to remember when I last watched a romantic-comedy from start to finish. Did Destination Wedding count as a rom-com? It was billed as a rom-com but it was a lot darker than traditional rom-coms. To be fair, few people are writing rom-coms and few people are making them. Everything is superheroes and historical bio-pics these days. Oh, I just remembered: Begin Again Home Again, with Reese Witherspoon. I watched that and it was… okay. Sometimes I do need something lighter, and sometimes I just want to see two pretty people fall in love. But if anyone out there is still writing rom-coms, don’t ask Julia to play one of the roles. She thinks she’s too old for them.

Julia Roberts built her career starring in some of the most enduring romantic comedies of the modern film era. However, fans shouldn’t hold their breath when it comes to seeing her starring in any in the future. ET’s Keltie Knight spoke with Roberts in Los Angeles on Sunday, where the Oscar winner was promoting her upcoming drama thriller series Homecoming, and she admitted that she feels she’s had too much life experience to convincingly star in a rom-com at this point.

“Unless we [play] the parents of the people that are rom-com-ing,” Roberts, 50, explained. “There came a point in my career where people thought I had turned on romantic comedies, which I love them, I love to be in them, I love to watch them. But sometimes, they just don’t work at a certain point of life experience.”

For Roberts, the disconnect comes when the audience doesn’t believe that the actors in the film aren’t naive and emotionally juvenile, as the characters in rom-coms tend to be to allow for the zany situations and farcical hijinks inherent in the genre.

“It’s not about age, it’s just about what people know that you know,” Roberts explained.

[From ET]

I sort of understand what she means once you get past the headline of “Julia says she’s too old for rom-coms.” It’s not that she’s really too old to play a romantic lead, it’s that the handful of romances written these days are for younger actors, and Julia would look like an a–hole if she was still doing sh-t like Runaway Bride (which I hated then and I hate even more now). Whenever people talk about “oh, rom-coms don’t work at this point,” I always point out that Mindy Kaling expanded her love of rom-coms to a TV show - The Mindy Project – which sort of redefined rom-coms for me because that show was so smart. There were hijinks and zany situations, but there was an emotional core, a romantic center. I hate to admit it, but if Mindy Kaling wrote an adult rom-com for Julia Roberts, I would watch the sh-t out of it.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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83 Responses to “Julia Roberts: Rom-coms ‘just don’t work at a certain point of life experience’”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    I don’t think I’m going to survive her latest Oscar campaign.

    As for rom coms, Juliet, Naked with Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd is a nice one.

    • VirgiliaCoriolanus says:

      Did you watch “Destination Wedding” with Keanu and Winona? It is on amazon prime. I LOVED it, and it is a romcom for adults. They are both fully fledged adults of a “certain age”, both of them have demanding careers, both of them have been hurt before, and they don’t change each other–rather they reveal each other’s vulnerabilities and desires. I don’t consider Keanu to be a good actor at all (his brand of acting works for the John Wicke films, etc), but he was at his best in this film.

      • Lightpurple says:

        I did see it. I really wanted to like it. Despite the fact that I love both Keanu and Winona, I didn’t like that film at all. I found it very stilted. Great performance by the mountain lion though. We need more comedic mountain lions.

        Juliet, Naked is still in some theaters and I really enjoyed it. Despite Hawke getting most of the press for it, it is really Rose’s film and she shines in it.

      • Harla says:

        I watched it and thought I was watching John Wick at a Destination Wedding! Now that I’d pay double to watch!!

      • VirgiliaCoriolanus says:

        Oh and Book Club. I admit, I think Andy Garcia is sexy sexy so I went to see it just because of him…….it was a cute film and I loved his and Diane Keaton’s storyline. I was literally the only one in my theater who watched it too.

      • LT says:

        Book club was adorable!

    • Christin says:

      After seeing two posts in two days, my first reaction was – when will this end?

      She should give up the rebranding and play a famous, wealthy marriage wrecking ball who incessantly invades the lives of a working guy and his wife. Wardrobe would need to include a homemade t-shirt dissing the wife, who is trying to hang on to her marriage.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        sick burn…I LOVE this post.

      • cupcake says:

        GAWD, I love this post!!

      • Christin says:

        I followed that tabloid stories of that era too closely, I guess.

        The guy also needs to have a talkative sister (who supports the wife), and (sadly) his mother dies during the ensuing chaos. And the wealthy woman insists on being at the funeral.

      • Earthbound Misfit says:

        Wow. That was 16 years ago. Let it go.

      • Christin says:

        Hi, Julia! I guess Earthbound is a take on the “earth mother” previous branding, of a few years ago.

        People on here have good memories. Guess that’s a little inconvenient for touchy celebs and their publicists/stans.

      • Oliviajoy says:

        Yes!!!!! Shes a homewrecker which seems to be forgotten by a lot of people. She tried to pay off Danny’s wife so she’d give him a quickie divorce and when Vera refused she wore that sh***y shirt as if to publicly shame the wife of the home she wrecked. She tries to pass herself off as so sweet and down to earth and she’s far from it. I still think they will end up divorced at some point.

    • Esmom says:

      Juliet, Naked was a great book. Somehow I had no idea it was made into a film. Thanks for letting me know!

    • SK says:

      Yessss my husband and I loved Juliet, naked

    • Diana says:

      I thought 40 year old Virgin was a beautiful wacky Rom-Com. But I agree there are few written & that is the problem.

  2. Who ARE these people? says:

    Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. …was it “Something’s Gotta Give”? That used life experience beautifully.

    • DesertReal says:

      I came here to say exactly this!
      Something’s Gotta Give (no matter how angry I get at who she chooses at the end) and It’s Complicated are 2 of my faves that are about people in their…what? 40s to 70s? I’m 33 and I’ve watched them more times than I can attach a number to.
      Just because you live longer doesn’t mean you stop having certian types of experiences. But then again I haven’t liked anything Julia Roberts has said in a long time so…

      • perplexed says:

        I watch that movie for Keanu. He’s a really hot doctor.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        yes, exactly. Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated are two very funny romcoms where the leads are “old”.

        just because you aren’t getting cast in them anymore, Jules, doesn’t mean you couldn’t DO them.

        it’s just that directors and casting folks think you can’t do them.

        and TOTES agree about Keanu the hot doc…whew!

        ETA: older romcoms players aren’t a new thing, either. I remember a great, funny movie with Sally Field and James Garner called Murphy’s Romance that was really enjoyable. she was about 40 and he was almost 60, I believe.

      • jan90067 says:

        LOVE those movies (and rewatched them recently in fact!). You can have a great rom-com with older adults, IF you write for THEIR experiences, not the experience of “never-been-I-love, stars-in-their-eyes” young adults. To paraphrase: IT’S THE WRITING, STUPID!

      • Esmom says:

        Yes. I’m actually kinda baffled that she would say that. It’s essentially saying people her age and older can’t have romantic experiences, which is really sad. I know a guy her age who lost his wife about five years ago and is now in a new romance…He is so loved up and happy and adventurous, yet still grounded because he’s got young adult children. It’s something to behold.

        She could expand the genre if she wanted to.

      • BB says:

        I was also going to say It’s Complicated, love that movie

    • L84Tea says:

      I LOVE that movie!!

    • minx says:

      Streep and Keaton could play older love interests because they have charm and you like them. Roberts has no charm, she’s coasted on the “pretty woman” meme as far as she can.

      • Grant says:

        I’m not a particularly big fan of Julia Roberts, but I think plenty of people (namely the Minivan Majority) find her very charming. That’s how she managed to became America’s Sweetheart all through the 90s.

      • minx says:

        When you’re young and cute it’s easy to be perceived as having charm. It’s trickier as you age, if you’re not a nice person to begin with.

    • cupcake says:

      I LOVED “Something’s gotta give” what a charming and lovely movie!

    • crummycake says:

      Came here to post the exact same thing! Loved that movie!

  3. minx says:

    Hate her hair.

  4. Queenb says:

    That doesnt make a lot of sense. The romcoms written for immature young people dont make sense for someone her age but you can write a romcom for older couples. Obviously.

    • Hannah says:

      Couldn’t agree more with above statements. I think she’s trying way too hard to change her brand/image. You’re not a guruor some sort of a more enlightened human being…just an older actress with a massive list of amazing films she’s done in the 90’s. You can totally do rom coms at any age (sally field’s last year’s comedy? Something gotta give, as good as it gets, its complicated, etc etc). They’re all interesting and great and cover a variety of life experiences and ages.

    • perplexed says:

      I kind of thought that was what she was saying. But producers aren’t really making that leap regularly, I don’t think.

      I don’t think she’s wrong about the emotionally juvenile part either. Even in Something’s Gotta Give, Jack Nicholson’s character was emotionally juvenile and then Diane Keaton had to change him blah blah blah. The actors make it work through skill, so I don’t necessarily think she’s wrong about some of the tropes that are inherent in the genre. Even when I was younger I thought Jack Nicholson’s character was a little strange. But then since it’s Jack Nicholson I guess he made the immaturity work. I also think he was forgiven because he was a guy. Reverse the roles and we’d think the woman was an idiot. Heck, I thought it was unrealistic she’d pick Jack Nicholson over Keanu (even though Keanu is much younger, but he was more mature in the brain than jack!).

      I also wonder how many male actors past 40 are willing to do rom-coms. The ones in the next generation who are younger but now in the post-40 range seem kind of averse to them (i.e Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon etc.) The men who are “pretty” and are seen as romantic leads seem to want to stay away from those kinds of movies. I guess George Clooney would be Julia Roberts’s partner in a movie, and does he do them? He usually seems to play a widow nowadays. I don’t even think Tom Cruise does them anymore (unless he’d be willing to do the sequel to Cocktail, and he’d likely be the parent like Julia says).

      • perplexed says:

        To be fair, there are probably other male actors willing to do rom-coms — but I have no idea if Hollywood is willing to cast them. I think I just generally make the assumption that producers look at the bottom line and if the movie doesn’t meet that, they don’t bother.

    • Pandy says:

      Right? Dating is dating whatever the age. I’d expect better clothing, furniture and restos from an older couple lolll.

  5. OSTONE says:

    Something’s gotta give and it’s complicated were brilliant rom-coms for people 50+. I loved them both and was not disappointed that the leads weren’t in the 16-25 age bracket. Shut up, Julia.

  6. Chaine says:

    Does Crazy Rich Asians count as a rom com? I thought it was really enjoyable.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Of course! Romantic and funny.

    • Wasabi says:

      Yes! Romantic, fun and fluffy. Also — Michelle Yeoh!!!

      • Mrs.Krabapple says:

        Yes, Michelle Yeoh stole the movie! Isn’t she about the same age as Julia Roberts? And she found a supporting role in a rom-com that she turned into the best thing about the movie through talent. Yeoh proved it can be done. (But also, Hollywood is unkind to women over 40, that really is an issue for me).

  7. Nat says:

    Begin again starred Keira Knightly, not Reese, and they really resisted the rom-com label (main characters never get romantic).

    • Kaiser says:

      I was thinking of Home Again, not Begin Again. Both are the dumbest titles ever

      • Marianne says:

        Begin Again was originally going to be titled “Can a song save your life?” which imo was better and more original

    • Lightpurple says:

      I liked Begin Again. Some really sweet and funny moments in that. I loved the growing band and the James Corden and Mos Def bits.

      • lucy2 says:

        I did too, it was a nice movie.
        I kind of liked Home Again too. Not much happened, but it was enjoyable enough.

  8. pru says:

    Didn’t Winona & Keanu just make a rom-com? I think there would be an audience for them if Hollywood would make them.

  9. Louisa says:

    As someone approaching 50 I really enjoy a “rom-com” with an older / more mature couple and would love to see more. A few people mentioned Destination Wedding which I thought was just okay.. but I would be totally here for Keanu and Diane Lane doing one together.
    And I have zero interest in watching a couple of 20-somethings get together.

  10. damejudi says:

    There are romantic movies for actors in her age range, they’e just more bittersweet than zany rom-com fare.

    Love lots of the movies already mentioned, so I’ll add:
    -Crazy, Stupid, Love (Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone)
    -Enough Said (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini)

    • perplexed says:

      For movies like Crazy, Stupid, Love the writers always seem to put in a younger couple in as a parallel to the parents. So I thought what she said about the young people rom-com-ing with parents in tow kind of made sense. The parents will have some kind of romantic entanglement but not without some younger couple also in the movie as well. And I guess somewhere in there the producers have to stick in Ryan Gosling’s abs.

    • lucy2 says:

      Enough Said was the one I was thinking of, but I couldn’t remember the title.

    • Veronica S. says:

      I liked “Crazy, Stupid Love,” but it’s also not the lighter fare that I typically think of when it comes to rom coms. It deals with some more dramatic issues – marriages falling apart later in life, unhappy affairs, disappointing ourselves and our families, the sacrifices and changes we sometimes have to make in order for love to work.

    • Hexicon says:

      Yes, “Enough Said”! Two imperfect but appealing people with some miles on them. Grownup, funny, bittersweet. I never thought I’d considered James Gandolfini attractive, but his character was a warm, sexy guy. And JLD looked amazing. She has genuinely approved with age. Why can’t we see more movies like this? (I appreciate the Nancy Meyers movies like “Something’s Got to Give,” but I mostly watch them for the houses.

    • FHMom says:

      I agree that romcoms for older adults have a sad, bittersweet angle to them. Dan in Real Life was a wonderful, quiet movie starring Steve Carrell as a widower with 3 young children. I think it wou,d qualify as a romcom.

    • Killjoy says:

      I was also thinking of Enough Said. More life experiences seems to obviously mean more potential for comedy — exes, potentially adult kids, career, different perspectives — I have no idea what Roberts is thinking here.

      More life experiences = actual backstory that explains a character’s motivations other than “well, I share third period with Jimmy now, so I guess I can spend the next three months scheming how to get a prom invite from him.”

  11. Christin says:

    Translation: No one is asking me to be in a rom-com.

    Maybe the Vera t-shirt posing kind of destroyed the perception of sweet naivety?

  12. Lala11_7 says:

    If THIS were true…Nancy Meyer’s would not EVEN HAVE A CAREER!!!!

    Heck…you have BUNCHES of British films…especially ones that came out in the 80s/90s that were about THAT very thing….not to mention…Italian…French and Spanish!!!!

    • perplexed says:

      I think the European film industry is less averse to older pairings than Hollywood is.

      I do think there are rom-com scripts likely floating around for older actors — but someone has to be willing to finance them.

      I actually think Julia could still do a rom-com and sell it, but whether she’s actually getting decent scripts like Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep, I’m not sure. Julia Roberts has a really distinctive prettiness that I think boxes her into a certain kind of romantic role.

      • Lala11_7 says:

        At this stage in the game…she could leverage her powers to produce a script that works for her…It’s a pity that she’s closing down an avenue that she excelled in…you need to mix things up….and it’s ALWAYS wonderful when you pay homage to the thing that got you where you are…

        Seriously…If I were her…I would be developing the HECK out of a sequel to “Pretty Woman”…IJS

  13. perplexed says:

    Does Eat, Pray, Love count as a rom-com?

    The female character in that movie was so annoying and irritating. If those are the kinds of roles she’s getting in a rom-com film, I can see why she’d say no. I also think Julia has the kind of self-assured beauty that probably makes her whininess hard to take in roles like that movie. You can accept that kind of whininess from a young woman, but not whatever age she was playing in that movie. Self-discovery? Yeah, okay, whatevs.

    I also think she has the kind of self-confidence that probably wouldn’t work in a movie like Something’s Gotta Give. Diana Keaton has that neurotic quality that works in her rom-coms for older women. The thing with Julia Roberts is that she’s kind of boxed into the America’s Sweetheart kind of romantic role rather than a neurotic type. Even at 50, she seems like she could trample all over the 20 year olds with her confidence.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh yeah, I’d forgotten she was in that. I didn’t see it because I loathed the book but I can’t see it marketed as anything but a rom-com.

  14. Veronica S. says:

    I agree with her to the extent that I think most mature individuals in their later years just don’t have the the time or patience for the antics of youth. You know who you are. You know what you want. You understand better the importance of communication, which is a large part of what drives comedy in rom coms – trying to make the connection through all of the interfering circumstances of the world and our own insecurities. It’s not that it can’t work, but it takes a subtler, more cerebral sense of humor to pull off with an older cast, and that’s a writing skill not everybody has.

    This being said, I think the larger problem over all is that rom coms just went to shit in the late 90s/2000s and fell out of favor with the public. They’re only slowly recovering now with improved roles for women.

    • perplexed says:

      “This being said, I think the larger problem over all is that rom coms just went to shit in the late 90s/2000s and fell out of favor with the public. They’re only slowly recovering now with improved roles for women.”

      I agree with this too.

    • Christin says:

      The odd thing is, they are likely less expensive to make than action movies. Unless the lead actors require excessive salaries, it would take just a small cast and not necessarily a lot of location filming expense.

      I still find You’ve Got Mail as a charmer, and the lead characters were not 20-somethings.

  15. KatieBo says:

    The Mindy Project was so good until it wasn’t! I just re-watched the whole thing. I feel like the last couple of episodes turned around again but the last few seasons were so hit and miss.

    • Nic919 says:

      When Chris Messina got busy with other projects and couldn’t be on the show as much that’s when it lost its way. They separated them for forced reasons in the show and it didn’t work.

  16. Dizzy says:

    Enough Said is really great. It gave me hope that I as someone over 50 could meet someone. So it works as a romance because they are supposed to make the audience feel hopeful.

  17. BB says:

    The Big Sick was kind of a romantic dramedy. I get what she’s saying about the “typical” rom-coms that she became famous for.

    I think peak television has probably made viewers more sophisticated. That kind of movie plot is relegated to places like the Hallmark channel now. Big productions with some kind of creative spin can still be successful though, Crazy Rich Asians is proof of that.

    But if people are going to spend $10+ for a movie ticket, they need more than big city girl goes back to hometown and falls in love with old flame or movie star falls in love with regular joe who loves her for her.

  18. meg says:

    my first response was too, ‘I’m in my 30s wanting to fall in love. i’m not naive why can’t that story be written?’ people split later in life and fall in love too-why are only love stories for ‘stupid’ kids? the ‘relationships I was in in my early 20s I cringe at because I didn’t know how to be assertive, or even know what healthy boundaries were to defend so that tells you how unsuccessful those relationships were at making me happy. why do love stories have to focus on zany, naive people?
    I loved runaway bride when it came out when I was 14. I do have a hard time watching it years later when it was put on Netflix streaming. Now at 34 I can not take it literally and see it for what it is and enjoy it. A few years ago I had people in my life as selfish and attention hogging every situation like julia’s character in that movie and it was hard to see it as funny and not get mad at how selfish this person in my life was. Now I removed them from my life so I can enjoy the movie. But Richard gere and Julia Roberts in real life sound like pills to be around. No thanks.

  19. Yes Doubtful says:

    I looooooved Destination Wedding!! It’s not for everyone, but I really connected with the dark humor and witty dialogue. Rom-coms are great, but they need to constantly evolve to keep up with current political climates and trendy actors. There’s definitely room for her age group and older. Look at the surprise hit Book Club that was out just this year!

  20. SJhere says:

    I’m so over Julia Roberts, I can’t stand her!
    Talk about a one trick pony, she is it.

    Destination Wedding was fine. Not as funny as I was hoping for but I’d pay good money for anything Keanu. He and Winona we’re fine together, needed a better script tho.

    Somethings Gotta Give and Its Complicated were both good movies which I’ve watched several times. Moonstruck is still a fav also.

    RomComs with older stars will still be made but I think Julia Roberts day in the sun is well over. Lots of us her age remember her younger years and didn’t like her then either.

    Diane Lane should be getting more work! Under the Tuscan Sun was good, and re-watchable too.

    I’m not an ABBA or Meryl Streep fan but, Mama Mia and Mama Mia 2 were big $$ makers. C’mon people, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth as adorable as they can be in the same movie? Good stuff, even if they can’t carry a tune in a bucket. :)

    Btw, where is Kevin Kline these days? Man can do singing, can do comedy, can do drama.
    A Fish Called Wanda is still funny and he is very good in it. Jamie Lee Curtis can do comedy very well also, where’s the scripts for these talented folks? Netflix and/or Amazon Prime should be filling this gap for their subscribers, IMO.

  21. Sorella says:

    SET IT UP on Netflix was a romcom, so funny too and great for all ages.

  22. Sorella says:

    SET IT UP on Netflix was a romcom, so funny too and great for all ages. Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs were great together.

  23. launicaangelina says:

    I also crave lighter movies and shows lately. I disagree with her though. Rom-coms can work for any age as long as it’s done right.

  24. Neverwinter says:

    My favourite rom-com with older adults would be “Frankie and Johnny”. It’s clever has killer soundtrack and Michelle’s and Pacino’s chemistry is through the roof!

  25. melone says:

    I’m in my late 30′s, and the best rom-com I’ve seen in a while is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before… a film not targeted to my age bracket! LOL

    The last one I liked before that was Bridesmaids (although that’s barely a rom-com). Nothing can beat the rom-com heyday of the 90s, indeed.