Julia Roberts: ‘I have a sense of great pride in being home with my family’

Julia Roberts has her first role in four years in Starz’s Gaslit, the true story of Martha Mitchell. Martha Mitchell was the wife of John Mitchell, who was attorney general for Richard Nixon. John Mitchell was knee-deep in dirty tricks, Watergate and CREEP. And Martha knew about all of it, and she was one of the first people to talk about it publicly. She was ripped apart by the media and by Nixon’s cronies. Anyway, Julia spoke to the New York Times Magazine in what is probably her first one-on-one interview in four years as well. You can read the full piece here, she speaks at length about fame, Hollywood, raising her children and a lot more. Some highlights:

There are no good rom-com scripts? “What I’ve learned is that you always want to do what you’re not doing. Whenever I’m in a comedy, I think I just want to be at a table with a cup of tea sobbing over something. Then you’re doing that, and you think, Oh to be wearing a pretty dress and laughing. People sometimes misconstrue the amount of time that’s gone by that I haven’t done a romantic comedy as my not wanting to do one. If I had read something that I thought was that “Notting Hill” level of writing or “My Best Friend’s Wedding” level of madcap fun, I would do it.

Not doing a rom-com in 20 years: “Yeah. It can’t be 20 years, can it? Here’s the thing: If I’d thought something was good enough, I would have done it. But I also had three kids in the last 18 years. That raises the bar even more because then it’s not only Is this material good? It’s also the math equation of my husband’s work schedule and the kids’ school schedule and summer vacation. It’s not just, Oh, I think I want to do this. I have a sense of great pride in being home with my family and considering myself a homemaker.

Advice to young actors: “I am less qualified to give advice now because the business has changed entirely. It’s a little sad, because when I started, I felt like you did a movie and if it did well then you might get offered a couple of other movies and might have more choice and you’d get paid a little bit more on the next one. There were incremental shifts in opportunity, and it made more sense. Now it’s made more of air; maybe it doesn’t feel as sturdy when you’re going along. I felt pretty sure-footed about the choices I was making. You don’t have those incremental markers anymore, it doesn’t seem like.

Why she gravitates towards heavier stuff these days: “I’m 54 years old. The truth of what you see and how you understand it and the weight of things becomes clear. You want to be able to unpack that. Also, it might be a response to having a happy life. You think, Why would I leave a happy life to go pretend to be in a happy life?”

[From The NY Times Magazine]

She was full of compliments for Sean Penn (who plays John Mitchell), calling him the best actor of their generation and a good friend, someone she’s known for decades, really. Which is interesting to think about, because I never would have thought that Penn and Roberts would be “decades-long friends” or have much in common, in general. But I guess Julia is friends with everyone.

As for what she says about rom-coms… I mean, she’s right but she’s not right. She’s right that there has been a significant move away from mid-budget romantic comedies and there are a lot of trash scripts out there. But she’s incorrect too, because there are great writers doing romantic and comedic scripts… but they’re just not writing those scripts with Julia Roberts in mind. Like, she aged out of those scripts, but there’s definitely a movement within Hollywood to showcase romantic stories that don’t involve white women in their 40s and 50s.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar and the NYT Magazine Instagram.

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22 Responses to “Julia Roberts: ‘I have a sense of great pride in being home with my family’”

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  1. C-Shell says:

    There I was, enjoying this interview and liking that yummy yellow (oversized), double-breasted suit and THEN I scrolled far enough to see the short trousers and those clunky black boots! 😖 Dang, Julia.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      I enjoyed reading the interview too. One of the better ones.

    • Green Desert says:

      Oh man, I actually love this look! It’s a little funky update on some early-90’s wear to me. Looks like something out of The Pelican Brief! 🙂

      • Twin Falls says:

        I love the shoes with the suit so much so that when I got to them I was like oh that’s so Julia Roberts, so cool, lol. And yes, very Pelican Brief era. Long live the 90s.

  2. Janelle says:

    I doubt her friendships are very deep. Sean Penn is a raging mysoginist and she supposedly is a feminist, take anything she says w a grain of salt as that doesn’t sound like a feminist to me.

    Also – hahaha I always laugh when former “other women” tout the family joys they built upon the devastation, tears and stabbed backs of betrayed former spouses

    All that did she’s a fantastic actress and I do want to watch this film. But she’s just not a person I would take character or relationship advice from!

    • AMA1977 says:

      I will agree that the manner in which she pursued her now-husband was disgraceful. However, the married person is the person who owes loyalty, honesty, and respect to their spouse. Nobody can “steal” a man (or woman) who is committed to their partner. Danny Moder took the vows, you know?

      Also, the fact that they’ve been together for 20ish years and have built a family does take some of the drama out of the situation; they are obviously committed to each other and well suited. Lots of people have “starter” marriages and lots of people have relationship overlap. At some point, the past is the past. If she’d participated in breaking up his marriage and then peaced out after six months, I’d side-eye her HARD. But this is not that.

      • Janelle says:

        Late reply – I just disagree. I think the married person obviously took vows but the predatory impulse to step into someone else’s marriage and pursue and help them – that is just as bad in an ethical sense.

  3. Dee says:

    I’ve always thought Julia was shallow and not that talented. I know she’s won awards, but mostly for playing herelf. Lots of actors have done that successfully, but there’s a point where you have to try something out of your element and not just dye your hair and chomp on gum to make your characters interesting.

    • Jessica says:

      I don’t think she cares enough about acting to go outside of her range. She’s comfortable and makes movies for money not for the love of acting.

    • PaperclipExtrordinaire says:

      Glad someone finally said it. I know she keeps her sh*t locked down, which I actually admire, but my feeling is that she’s only “Julia Roberts” when she has to be and only with people she wants to to keep on-side. Don’t think Amal’s a fan, and that says it all to me.

    • Mirage says:

      +1 to that comment.
      Julia Roberts is great at playing…. Julia Roberts.

    • Granger says:

      Agreed. She’s a movie star, not an actor. She’s made quite an impressive life for herself playing pretty much the same character everytime!

  4. Jessica says:

    Not a fan of Julia but she was one of HWood biggest stars and her kids were almost never papped. She moved to Malibu and that gave them a normal rich kid life. Now she has moved to San Francisco even more removed from the celeb life and her twins are heading to college in the fall. She’s done right by them.

    • Twin Falls says:


      • Angel says:

        She really is a home maker and revolves the schedule around the fam. The one who makes homemade muffins for the soccer team and knits. Danny = nicest guy alive. She & Sean Penn are Malibu friends for ages. There’s a whole bunch of them who you would not associate but bonded by the Bu, kids events, etc. The Chili Cookoff is THE event for kids in Malibu & why so many celebs show up XO

    • DiegoInSF says:

      I didnt know she lived up here, if I see her I’ll start yelling A LOW VERA!!!

      • Lila says:

        I agree! She’s let her kids grow up in peace.

        I think Julia Roberts is probably difficult on a good day, but she’s also a Movie Star all the way. She has that magical it and has for decades. She still has that extra sparkle to me.

  5. Lena says:

    I think when she’s talking about rom coms she’s talking about in film because ya know, she’s old school. And there has been a disappearance in films of that genre for the past, what, fifteen years?And as someone in her age bracket I like the idea of older woman rom coms and she’s just great at them. But even the great Nancy Myers is going to streaming., and I don’t see that changing.

  6. Green Desert says:

    I’ve always loved Julia. I think she’s a talented actor, and I’m super interested in seeing her as Martha Mitchell. If you haven’t heard it, check out Season 1 of the podcast Slow Burn which is about this. One episode is dedicated to Martha. I can’t wait to see it all play out on screen!

  7. Tashiro says:

    I remember Martha Mitchell very well and I just don’t see Julia Roberts playing her. But she could surprise me.

  8. A says:

    I bet she does have a sense of pride in the family she’s got. Julia Roberts always came off as very smug to me. She definitely strikes me as the type who thinks she was the “better” woman, and that she “won” in the contest between her and her husband’s ex, and I totally bet she’s smug and prideful about the family she thinks she’s got as a “trophy” for her efforts. She won, the other woman lost, she gets the husband, the kids, the happily ever after, the other woman gets nothing. I bet that’s the attitude Julia Roberts has, and well. Okay, lady.