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No. 15, March 2001
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© Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Julia Roberts
biography, filmography, films, DVDs

Article added on March 31, 2001
  
Biography of Julia Roberts
 
Julie Fiona Roberts was born in 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1972, her family moved to Smyrna, Georgia, where Julia grew up. She attended Fitzhugh Lee Elementary School, Griffin Middle School and Campbell High School in Smyrna.
 
Julia is the daughter of Walter Roberts, a vacuum cleaner salesman, an actor and a writer. Her mother Betty was a church secretary and an actress. They founded the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop in the 1960s. Julia's sister Lisa (*1965) and her brother Eric (*1956) are actors too. Julia also has a half-sister, Nancy Motes. Julia's parents, Walter and Betty, married in 1955 and divorced in 1971 when Julia was 4. The father stayed with her brother Eric in Atlanta. Julia moved with her sister Lisa and her mother to Smyrna. Her father worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman, her mother Betty as a secretary. Julia's father died of cancer when she was 9.
 
After graduating from Campbell High School in 1985, Julia moved to New York where she joined her older sister Lisa in order to pursue an acting career. At first, she worked as a model. Her first big screen part came in 1986 with the western Blood Red. Her brother Eric had already made several films and been nominated for an Oscar for his role in Andrei Konchalovsky's Runaway Train with Rebecca DeMornay and Jon Voight. In Blood Red, Julia only played a small part as the sister of her brother Eric who was the leading man. Dennis Hopper, Giancarlo Giannini and Burt Young were the other main members of the cast. The film was directed by Peter Masterson and released in the US in 1988. In Germany, the film was only released on video, as late as 1991.
 
Julia's acting debut before an audience came in 1987 with the TV series Crime Story. She played a sexually abused teenager. The producer Michael Mann later also gave her a part in an episode of his Miami Vice TV series, where she played a gangster's secretary who gets involved with Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson). During the next year and a half, the former "Miss Panthera" from Smyrna auditioned for TV commercials and film parts. After an appearance in the TV series Spenser: For Hire, she was finally offered larger roles.
 
Julia's first bigger part was in 1987 with Satisfaction, a film considered to be the vehicle to stardom for the leading woman of the sitcom Family Ties, Justine Bateman. The teenager comedy was nothing to be proud of. On the set, the 20-year old Julia fell in love with fellow actor Liam Neeson - twice her age - with whom she lived some time in Venice.
 
Also in 1987, Julia shot Baja Oklahoma, a cable TV movie in which she played the wild daughter of Lesley Ann Warren and Mystic Pizza, which marked Julia's breakthrough on the big screen. Released in 1988, the movie was set in a pizzeria in Mystic, a small East-Coast town in Connecticut and tells the story of three young women. It is the type of low budget film which lets the studios test new directing and acting talents. Donald Petrie's debut film is no masterpiece but it made several times what it had cost. Her role as a  Portuguese waitress was the beginning of Julia Roberts' career.
 
One year later, Steel Magnolias made Julia "America's Sweetheart". As the daughter of Sally Field, she convinced to the point that she won a Golden Globe and deserved an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress in 1990. With Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis, the film united a series of female stars. Sally Field became a good friend who subsequently helped Julia in difficult times.
 
In 1990, Pretty Woman was released. The film made over $178 million, more than twice as much as Steel Magnolias which had already been a major commercial success. In the role of the prostitute Vivian Ward opposite Richard Gere, Julia got a second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress - and she became a superstar. Initially, Pretty Woman was thought as social drama without a happy ending. But with the Disney subsiduary Buena Vista buying the rights and Garry Marshall as director, the concept was completely changed. Vivian was no longer a drug addicted whore. Instead, the movie became a romantic fairy-tale for adults.
 
With the psycho-thriller Sleeping With The Enemy and Flatliners, her commercial success continued. For both films, she had been cast before the success of Pretty Woman. The former director of advertising films, Joel Schumacher, used stereotype repetitions in Flatliners. There are too many death experiences without substantial changes. Still, the movie was a success. Julia's co-star, Kiefer Sutherland, became her new boyfriend. He separated from his wife and child. Kiefer was in the shadow of Julia and - as the press reported - began to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. They were officially engaged in March 1991 and the wedding was planned for June 14. But there was also a photograph in the press showing Sutherland with an unknown woman. It was revealed that she was a stripper. Three days before the wedding, Julia cancelled it. Jason Roberts, who had starred beside Kiefer Sutherland in Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys, became Julia's new boyfriend.
 
In 1991, the tearjerker Dying Young with Julia was a failure. Joel Schumacher's movie about a woman working for a rich young man with cancer proves once more that the director would have done better to stick with his advertising job. He tries to sell a story - instead of telling one.
 
Julia Roberts' next film was Steven Spielberg's Peter Pan adaptation with Robin Williams as the leading man. Although Hook made over $100 million, it received justified harsh comments by critics. Julia in the role of Tinkerbell, the tiny good fairy who brings Peter Pan back to Neverland, was able to convince critics with her natural charms, whereas director Steven Spielberg got a fair share of criticism.
 
In 1992, Julia appeared in a small part as Julia Roberts in Robert Altman's Hollywood satire The Player. She is an innocent woman in a death cell, at the last moment rescued by Bruce Willis. In 1993, Julia co-starred in The Pelican Brief, beside Denzel Washington, one of her better films.
 
Julia had another celebrity romance with singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett which, this time, ended in marriage. Less than two years later, the two separated but are said to have remained close friends. On the big screen, success became rare too. In the romantic thriller I Love Trouble (1994) with Nick Nolte, she played not only a journalist, but for the first time in her career, she had to show her comic side. Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter was a commercial and artistic failure. In the film, she played a fashion reporter. In the marital drama Something To Talk About (1995), Julia unsuccessfully tried for the first time to play a mother. In my eyes, Julia gave her best performance - together with the Oscar winning performance of Erin Brockovich in 2000 - in Mary Reilly. But at the box office, Stephen Frears version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a flop. The same happened to Neil Jordan's drama about the Irish rebel Michael Collins (Liam Neeson). In both films, Julia Roberts was far from her image as the romantic comedy star - and the public did not appreciate it. But in Mary Reilly, as a modest employee of Dr. Jekyll, Julia was able to show that she can play a complex character. The film as such was no masterpiece. Therefore, Julia was not even nominated for an Oscar. On the contrary, she received some unjustified criticism.
 
In 1996, she was part of Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You. Although no commercial success in the US - none of Allen's films have been - it was praised by critics. In 1997, Julia returned to her former box-office glory. The romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding opened to the highest-ever single weekend ticket sales for such a film and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, all her films have become major box-office successes. Julia Roberts is the only female superstar - a woman who can make a film a success by her simple presence. Her hits include the thriller Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson (1997), the family drama Stepmom (1998) with Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris, in which Sarandon plays a woman dying from cancer who tries to educate Roberts to raise her children, the romantic comedy Notting Hill (1999) with Hugh Grant as a bookstore owner, Runaway Bride (1999) with Richard Gere and Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich (2000).
 
Julia Roberts has won the 2001 Oscar for Best Actress with the title role in Erin Brockovich, a film based on a
true story. Julia plays a twice-divorced mother of three young children with no money and no job: Erin Brockovich. Following a car accident in which she is innocent, she finds herself even worse off when her attorney fails to provide her any financial justice. Erin decides to ask her attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney) to hire her at his law firm. While working for Masry, Erin discovers medical records placed in real estate files. She starts to investigate the dubious case and discovers a cover-up involving contaminated water in a local community which is causing illnesses among its residents. Erin's insistence makes her overcome the local residents initial opposition to her involvement and wins her their trust. Going door to door, she signs up over 600 plaintiffs. With the help of a major law firm, Erin and Ed manage to get $333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. It is the classical story of the underdog fighting a powerful enemy as well as the story of the American dream: You can make it if you really try hard.
 
Julia Roberts has her own production company: Shoelace. Among its films are the remake of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, the true story about an Australian outback odyssey From Alice to Ocean and the remake of George Cukor's
The Women.
 

 

Photograph from the biography in German by Meinolf Zurhorst: Julia Roberts. Heyne, Munich, 1999 (1992), 216 p. This article is based on Zurhorst's book. Get it from Amazon.de.
 
Films and DVDs with Julia Roberts

 

Erin Brockovich
. Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr,
citydisc Schweiz.

Runaway Bride. Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon.co.uk.

 

Notting Hill
. G
et the film on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr,
citydisc Schweiz.
 

Conspiracy Theory
. Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr,
citydisc Schweiz.


Michael Collins. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr.
 

Mary Reilly
. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de
, citydisc Schweiz.
 

The Pelican Brief.
Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de (dt. Titel: Die Akte), Amazon.fr,
citydisc Schweiz.
 

Flatliners
. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de.
 

Pretty Woman
. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.de
,
citydisc Schweiz, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr.
 

Steel Magnolias
. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de.
 
Julia Roberts' filmography
  
2001 The Mexican (released on March 2, 2001, it made over $58 million at the US box office in March 2001 alone)

2000 Erin Brockovich $125,548,000
1999 Runaway Bride $152,149,000
1999 Notting Hill $116,006,000
1998 Stepmom $91,030,000
1997 My Best Friend's Wedding $126,805,000
1997 Conspiracy Theory $76,081,000
1996 Michael Collins $11,030,000
1996 Everyone Says I Love You $9,714,000
1996 Mary Reilly $5,600,000
1995 Something to Talk About $50,892,000
1994 Prêt-à-Porter $5,860,000
1994 I Love Trouble $30,806,000
1993 The Pelican Brief $100,768,000
1992 The Player $21,706,000
1991 Hook $119,654,000
1991 Sleeping with the Enemy $101,580,000
1991 Dying Young $33,669,000
1990 Flatliners $61,490,000
1990 Pretty Woman $178,406,000
1989 Steel Magnolias $83,759,000
1989 Mystic Pizza $12,793,000
1987 Satisfaction $8,253,000
1987 Baja Oklahoma
1986 Firehouse
1986 Blood Red (released in 1988)
 
Awards, Oscars, Golden Globes
 
2
001 Oscar Best Actress for Erin Brockovich.
1991 Oscar Nomination Best Actress for Pretty Woman.
1990 Oscar Nomination Best Supporting Actress for Steel Magnolias
.
 
2001 Golden Globe Best Actress for Erin Brockovich (as well as National Board of Review, People's Choice Awards and BAFTA film awards in London).
2000 Golden Globe Nomination Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical for Notting Hill.
1998 Golden Globe Nomination Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical for My Best Friend's Wedding in 1998.
1991 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical for Pretty Woman.
1990 Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting role in a Motion Picture for Steel Magnolias.
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 15, March 2001
Deutsche Ausgabe  Archiv  Kunst  Film  Musik  Geschichte  Politik  Lebensart  Reisen
English edition  Archives  Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Lifestyle  Travel

© Copyright 2001  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.