Perfect smile, pretty woman

KATHMANDU: Born on October 28, 1967, Georgia native Julia Roberts was raised in a fervently pro-theatre environment. Her father, Walter Grady Roberts, was a vacuum cleaner salesman, and her mother, Betty Lou Motes, was a one-time church secretary and real estate agent. Her parents, one-time actors and playwrights regularly hosted acting and writing workshops and Julia showed an interest in the performing arts at an early age. Her brother Eric was the first to break into film but it was, of course, Julia Roberts who earned a spot among Hollywood’s elite.

After making her film debut in Blood Red and appearing in several late ‘80s television features, Roberts got her first real break in the 1988 made-for-cable drama Satisfaction. Her first significant supporting role was in 1989’s Mystic Pizza, which helped earn her the credentials she needed to land the part in Steel Magnolias. The 1989 tearjerker found her acting alongside Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine, and culminated in an Oscar nomination for Roberts.

It was director Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy Pretty Woman with Richard Gere that served as her true breakthrough role. Roberts’ part in Pretty Woman made the young actress a household name and cemented what would become a permanent spot in tabloid fodder.

While Roberts’ personal life kept her name in the spotlight, her career was not doing as well throughout the early ‘90s. The downward spiral reversed directions once again with 1996’s Michael Collins and Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson, and led to several successful comic roles including Notting Hill with Hugh Grant, Runaway Bride, and most notably, My Best Friend’s Wedding with Rupert Everett and a then virtually unknown Cameron Diaz.

Roberts’ biggest success didn’t present itself until 2000, though, when she delivered an Oscar-winning performance playing the title role in Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich. Officially the highest paid actress in Hollywood, Roberts went on to star in 2001’s America’s Sweethearts, as well as The Mexican with Brad Pitt.

While on the set of The Mexican, Roberts met cameraman Danny Moder immediately after ending a four-year relationship with fellow actor Benjamin Bratt. Though at the time, Moder was married to Vera Steinberg Moder, he filed for divorce a little over a year later, and after it was finalised, he and Roberts wed in 2002, at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico.

In 2004, they became the parents of fraternal twins, daughter Hazel Patricia and son Phinnaeus ‘Finn’ Walter. Their third child, son Henry Daniel Moder, was born in 2007.

Indeed, 2001 was a banner year for Roberts; in addition to America’s Sweethearts and The Mexican, Roberts starred in the crime caper Ocean’s Eleven, in which she rejoined former co-stars Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, and acted for the first time with George Clooney and Don Cheadle.

In 2004, came the sequel to Ocean’s Eleven — the aptly titled Ocean’s Twelve.

Roberts’s two films released in 2006, The Ant Bully and Charlotte’s Web, were both animated features for which she provided only voiceovers. Her next film was Charlie Wilson’s War directed by Mike Nichols and based on the book by former CBS journalist George Crile; it was released in 2007.

Her recent work Fireflies in the Garden was released in 2008. It has also been announced that Roberts will star in The Friday Night Knitting Club, based on the novel of the same name by Kate Jacobs.

Roberts made her Broadway debut in 2006 as Nan in a revival of Richard Greenberg’s 1997 play Three Days of Rain opposite Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd.

— Compiled by Abhilasha Subba