Julia Fiona Roberts was born in Smyma, GA to Walter Grady Roberts, a vacuum cleaner salesman, and his wife Betty Lou Bredemus, a one-time church secretary and real estate agent. As a child she loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian but when she grew up she ended up studying journalism.
When her brother, Eric, achieved some success in Hollywood, Julia thought she’d try her hand at acting. Her first break came in 1988 with a role in the romantic dramedy Mystic Pizza. It wasn’t until 1990’s Pretty Woman did Julia really gain Hollywood’s attention. 23 years later, she’s one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood.
Julia had some romantic missteps along the way in her personal life and some box office flops like the 1996 horror romance Mary Reilly and the romantic dramedy Something to Talk About. She’s best known for her roles in romantic comedies and was chosen as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by People Magazine in 2000. In honor of her 46th birthday, here is a Top 10 list of Julia Roberts’ movies.
10. I Love Trouble: – This 1994 action romantic comedy had Roberts starring opposite Nick Nolte. They played competing reporters from Chicago searching for the truth behind a horrific train derailment. Their search led them to the discovery of genetically altered milk conspiracy. Roberts and Nolte had great chemistry as their characters tried to one-up each other while falling in love at the same time. Though not received well by critics, in my opinion, Roberts and Nolte were a seamless pair that melded action and comedic romance.
9. Eat Pray Love: – This 2010 romantic dramedy was based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir of the same name. Roberts played Gilbert, a newly divorced woman who felt lost and decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Roberts’ was effervescent as her character took in the culinary pleasures of Italy, pensive as she yearned to find herself in India and finally free when she found herself and true love in Bali. Besides the locations being breathtaking, Roberts’ thoughtful portrayal of a woman adrift in her own life was moving and poignant.
8. Valentine’s Day: – Roberts was part of an all-star cast in this hit 2010 ensemble romantic comedy directed by Garry Marshall. Also starring Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Seth Meyers, Patrick Dempsey, Héctor Elizondo, Shirley MacLaine, Eric Dane, Emma Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, Queen Latifah, Jamie Fox, George Lopez, Kathy Bates, Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace, the movie followed all of their characters on the most romantic day of the year. Roberts played Kate Hazeltine, a captain in the U.S. Army on a one-day leave. While on the plane ride home, she befriended Holden Wilson (Cooper), who when their plane landed and Kate had to wait hours for a taxi. Holden offered his limousine so Kate can go see who he thought was her boyfriend, but she was really going to see her young son. Though the scenes were brief, Roberts packed an emotional punch in both her scenes with Cooper and the little boy who played her young son. Her portrayal made the movie a smash and proved that Valentine’s Day is also a day to be with family as well as your significant other.
7. Erin Brockovich: – This autobiographical film earned Roberts the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Roberts also won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild Award for her portrayal of Brockovich, who fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) on behalf of the sick residents of Hinkley, Calif. Roberts’ depiction of Brockovich as she struggled along with lawyer Ed Masry, played by Albert Finney, to help prove that PG&E knew the area’s contaminated groundwater would make the residents deathly ill and they covered it up was riveting. Roberts’ no-nonsense demeanor brought Brockovich even more to life on the silver screen and the movie was a hit with moviegoers and critics alike.
6. Steel Magnolias: – This heartbreaking 1989 romantic dramedy was one of Roberts’ early films and it was a whopper of a role. Based on the 1987 play of the same name by Robert Harling, the film followed the bond between a group of women from a parish in the Natchitoches, Louisiana area. Roberts co-starred with Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Dolly Parton, Dylan McDermott and Tom Skeritt. Roberts garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as diabetic Shelby Eatenton Latcherie, who dies at the end of the film. Yet, before her character’s death, Roberts infused Shelby with an inner light that made Hollywood stand up and take notice. I don’t know a soul who didn’t cry hysterically when Shelby died but her friends and mother (Field) band together to honor her and found the strength to move on.
5. The Pelican Brief: – This 1993 crime thriller was based on the John Grisham novel of the same name. Roberts co-starred with the incomparable Denzel Washington. Roberts played law student Darby Shaw, who wrote a legal brief detailing the true motive behind the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices. Shaw teamed with political reporter Gray Grantham (Washington) to bring the brief to light while avoiding numerous attempts on their lives to keep the truth hidden. Roberts and Washington made a wonderfully thoughtful and active on-screen pairing and the movie will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!
4. Runaway Bride: – Roberts reunited with her Pretty Woman co-star Richard Gere for this 1999 romantic comedy, which was directed by Garry Marshall. Roberts played Maggie Carpenter, a troubled woman who has left a string of fiancés at the altar earning her the nickname “The Runaway Bride.” Gere played reporter Ike Graham, who wants to do a story on Maggie and her upcoming fourth wedding attempt believing he’ll get the exclusive when she runs again. But, along the way the two fall in love. Roberts and Gere’s chemistry didn’t diminish one bit since Pretty Woman. Their witty banter and obvious friendship off-screen only made their on-screen romance that more believable and endearing.
3. My Best Friend’s Wedding: – This 1997 romantic comedy was a global box office hit and the highest grossing film of that year. Roberts played food critic Julianne Potter, who realizes that she loves her best friend, Mike O’Neal, played by Dermot Mulroney, when he tells her that he’s about to get married to the young, perfect and rich Kim, played by Cameron Diaz. Potter is asked to be in the wedding and spends most of the movie trying to sabotage Mike and Kim’s relationship so she can have Mike for herself. Roberts’ character’s antics are hilarious and off-the-wall as she begins to feel guilty for her nefarious behavior because she grows to like Kim. Roberts shined with both Mulroney and Rupert Everett, who played George, her gay editor and friend. Roberts’ and Everett’s scenes were some of the funniest in the movie especially the scene in the restaurant.
2. Notting Hill: – This 1999 romantic comedy had Roberts co-starring with Hugh Grant. Roberts played American movie star Anna Scott, who meets mild-mannered travel bookshop owner William Thacker and they fall in love despite numerous obstacles due to Roberts’ character’s celebrity status. Roberts and Grant’s on-screen chemistry was electrifying and their sweet courtship amidst scandal and frequent misunderstandings made moviegoers vigorously root for William and Anna to end up together in the end.
1. Pretty Woman: – The one that started it all! This 1990 romantic comedy, directed by Garry Marshall, put Roberts on Hollywood’s radar and earned her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Roberts played prostitute Vivian Ward, who solicits billionaire businessman Edward Lewis (Gere,) who then hires her to be his girlfriend while he’s in Los Angeles working on a deal. Roberts infused Vivian with a freshness and charm that won over moviegoers and critics. Roberts and Gere’s chemistry was undeniable as they fell in love against all odds. Who could forget when Gere’s character pummeled his lawyer, Phillip Stuckey, played by Jason Alexander, when he attacked Vivian after learning she was a prostitute. Talk about a knight in shining armor!