In celebration of our beautiful June cover star we’re revisiting some of the most memorable moments of Julia Roberts’ long and successful career. We had to make some tough choices, but these are the 11 moments that cemented her place in our hearts.
Her breakthrough role in Mystic Pizza
Julia’s first major role was when she was just 20 years old playing a young waitress in a pizza restaurant in 1988’s Mystic Pizza. The film was somewhat cheesy (it was the 80s after all) and didn’t go down well with critics but has gone on to become something of a cult classic and it was Julia’s first step towards becoming America’s sweetheart.
Getting the attention of the Academy in Steel Magnolias
Julia earned an Oscar nod (Best Supporting Actress) for her performance in Steel Magnolias, in which she played a bride who had diabetes. The role was nearly given to Meg Ryan and then Winona Ryder, but when Julia walked into the audition and beamed that perfectly symmetrical smile the producers changed their minds. She didn’t win the Oscar (those came later) but did win a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
Sharing the screen with Richard Gere
Next came arguably one of her most iconic characters to date: Vivian Ward. Julia was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for playing a prostitute who falls in love with Richard Gere’s character. Fun fact: the banging body you see in the poster for Pretty Woman isn’t Julia’s; they superimposed her head onto her stunt-double’s body.
Julia’s rise as the go-to leading lady in romantic comedies
After a few more film features, including the thriller based on John Grisham’s novel The Pelican Brief, Julia spent the last few years of the 1990s earning her crown as the queen of rom-coms. She rekindled her on-screen chemistry with Richard Gere in Runaway Bride, and also starred in My Best Friend’s Wedding (the film guaranteed to make you cry and get ‘I Say A Little Prayer For You‘ stuck in your head).
Being top of People Magazine’s ‘World’s Most Beautiful Woman’ list a record amount of times
Sure, it’s not an acting accolade but in 1991 Julia topped People Magazine‘s annual list, and has subsequently done so five times (including this year); that’s more than any other beautiful person on earth.
More unforgettable rom-coms
Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant on screen together made for one of the most romantic (and quotable) films of all time. In Notting Hill she played Anna Scott, a film star who many have speculated was inspired by Julia herself but was actually based on a mixture of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. For her performance she was nominated for a Golden Globe and inspired romantics all over to try out the line ‘I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her’.
The One With Julia Roberts
Do you remember Julia’s cameo as Chandler’s childhood friend on Friends? In The One After The Superbowl Julia played Susie Moss who spends the episode plotting to humiliate Chandler, ending with him in nothing but a pair of panties in a public bathroom. Off-screen it was a different story as Julia and Matthew Perry went on to have a brief romance (without the public humiliation). It was the most-watched episode Friends in the history of the show’s run.
The success of Erin Brokovich
Her performance as environmental activist Erin Brokovich has been Julia Roberts’ most awarded role to date. She won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Teen Choice Award, a Critic’s Choice Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award in the respective lead actress categories, famously beaming the phrase ‘I love the world. I’m so happy!’ at the end of her Oscar’s speech.
The Oceans films
The classic comedy-heist film franchise played around with the idea of Julia’s level of fame: if you watch the credits you’ll see she is credited as ‘And introducing Julia Roberts as Tess’, a credit usually reserved for an up-and-coming star. In Ocean’s Twelve there’s that surreal scene where her character pretends to be, well, Julia Roberts.