The Julia Effect

She’s been in the industry for almost 30 years but manages to keep a steady head and her privacy. Here, Julia Roberts shares her inspiring life lessons.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
She’s been in the industry for almost 30 years but manages to keep a steady head and her privacy. Here, Julia Roberts shares her inspiring life lessons.
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Julia Roberts has come a long way since her breakthrough role in Pretty Woman. You might remember that she played a lovable prostitute in that movie, and won the hearts of many. In fact, she received an Oscar nomination for it – her second, as she first got one for her role in Steel Magnolias. Not one to shy away from challenging roles, her upcoming releases Mother’s Day and Money Monster may be poles apart, but both showcase her prowess as an actress. Bursting with talent, a dazzling smile, and adored by fans everywhere, Julia has proven that she doesn’t need a star on the Walk of Fame to be considered a stalwart performer.

But what goes on behind the scenes? Before her marriage to cameraman and cinematographer Daniel Moder, Julia’s tumultuous dating life drew media attention. But things have changed since she became a wife and mother. Her concerted efforts to remain out of the prying eyes of the media has established her as an industry darling, and also as someone who’s acutely aware of her own worth. She’s raising her kids away from the attention by giving them a normal lifestyle. Fourteen years of marriage later, her sacrifices at being a public figure have proven to be an investment at home, and she’s happy. Here’s an insight into the beliefs that make Julia so unapologetically herself:

1 Mum knows best

When Julia was younger and figuring her way around Hollywood, her mother Betty Lou Bredemus, whom she lost in 2015 to a long battle to cancer, encouraged her by telling her that once she left home, she couldn’t come back, that she wouldn’t support her. That was the nudge that Julia needed to get out of her comfort zone, find her dreams and reach for the stars.

2 Never give up

When auditioning for Mystic Pizza, a film she gained recognition from, she was told that her looks weren’t Portuguese enough for the character. Being the go-getter that she is, she requested for a call-back, spray painted her light locks with black mousse spray, and re-auditioned with a vengeance. She landed the part, and a star was born.

FUN FACT Right after her audition, she got caught in the rain and the black paint came trickling down, in public.

3 Kisses make the world go around

In her own words, Julia is a “sucker for romance” and believes that kissing, and holding hands, are “desperately underrated”. According to her, the world would be a much happier place if people locked lips or held hands more often. With those lips, she certainly didn’t face a problem in that department!

FUN FACT Her favourite romantic film is the 1942 classic Now, Voyager. To her, many moments in the film “ripped her heart right out of her chest”.

4 Have face-to-face conversations

In case you haven’t noticed, she has no footprints on social media. not only does she find the process irrelevant, but feels no need to be putting up her thoughts and opinions to people she doesn’t know. She prefers directness, a more tangible and organic human connection. Her personal abstinence from the digital world seeps into her parenting style of keeping a check on the kind of content her children are exposed to.

5 Family comes first

She’s always insisted on being present for her kids, and her work is no exception to the rule. She takes her family to all her shoots and tries that both parents are not working at the same time to make their children a priority. Clearly, Julia and Daniel make the perfect tag team that keeps the clan together and going strong.

FUN FACT August: Osage County was the first time she had to leave her family behind, and had to be convinced by her husband and George Clooney to take up the soon-to-be Oscar nominated role.

6 To be healthy, eat healthy

Being the ardent environmentalist that she is, not only does she use her own cup for take-away coffee, but is big on organic and nutritious food as opposed to fast food (although an occasional unhealthy snack is forgiven). Her gardens are thriving with fresh produce that she planted with her kids, getting them deep and dirty in the ground, making them reap the fruit of their labours by consuming what they grew. She thinks it’s the best way to get your kids to eat their greens. What’s more, her culinary skills are commendable too.

7 Love yourself

Unlike most celebrities, Julia never endorsed a single brand till the age of 42. To her, being beautiful is being more comfortable in your skin and being happy as a person. She also believes being true to herself and not being defined by the media’s understanding of beauty. Which is why she finally became the spokesperson for Lancôme, endorsing products she could relate to. 

Money Monster, starring Julia Roberts and george Clooney, is out in cinemas in may 2016.

Mother’s Day, starring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson, is out in cinemas in June 2016.

Julia’s rise to stardom From doing multiple films a year to single releases each year, her filmography has seen a steady rise in establishing her as one of the most sought-after actresses in the industry. She’s proven her competency beyond rom-coms. We breakdown some of her career-defining roles and films.
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1989 Steel Magnolias Only her sixth film in a span of a flourishing two- year career, she gained her first Oscar nomination as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

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1990 Pretty Woman The film that changed it all. She garnered a consecutive Oscar nomination, this time as a Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Fun Fact: The woman on the movie's main poster is not entirely Julia Roberts. Her face was superimposed on the body of Shelley Michelle, a famous body double, to create the iconic poster.

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1999 Stepmom This film marked her role as a first- time producer.

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2000 Erin Brockovich Her first biopic role which won her, her first Oscar as a Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Fun Fact: She took home $20 million for this role, making her the first actress to earn that amount.

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2013 August: Osage County Her first film with the evergreen (and her favourite actress) Meryl Streep, and a role that consumed her both emotionally and physically. A critically acclaimed performance that rewarded her with her fourth Oscar nomination as an Actress in a Supporting Role.

Fun Fact: The two actresses actually were physically abusive in the scenes that demanded them to be, and didn’t use cheats or stunt doubles… they went all in.

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2014 The Normal Heart Her inspiring performance was recognised by the Primetime Emmy Awards with her first Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie nomination.

The many leading men of Julia’s lives

Before Julia married her husband of 14 years, her dating history has been quite prolific, hooking up with some of Hollywood’s well-known hunks:
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Liam Neeson The then 35-year-old dapper dude of Hollywood wooed a 19-year-old Julia off her feet while filming the rock-musical Satisfaction. Love is blind and the nearly 15-year age gap didn’t stop the two love birds. They moved in together, before calling it off after a year.

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Dylan McDermott Her rebound from Liam was quite the comeback for her love life with this Hollywood heartthrob. They met while filming Steel Magnolias, dated and were briefly engaged, before amicably ending their relationship.

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Kiefer Sutherland A romance that lasted beyond 24 hours, the two nearly tied the knot before Julia decided to bring her Runaway Bride character to life and left the actor a few days before they wed, making a getaway with his friend and actor Jason Patric.

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Lyle Lovett Their odd paring caught the world by surprise, but that didn’t stop America’s sweetheart from marrying country crooner Lyle Lovett, earning the moniker, “The Beauty and The Beast”. Sadly, they uncoupled after almost two years.

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Benjamin Bratt It was love at first sight for these two heavenly hotties. They had quite a public relationship, with both showering each other with supportive praises. Unfortunately, they called it quits after nearly four years of being happy together. 

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Daniel Moder They met while filming The Mexican, and the rest as they say, is history. It’s been 14 years since the lovebirds struck relationship gold with each other and three beautiful children later, are still going strong… and we’re rooting for them.