Julia Roberts: “I Don’t Consider Myself A Celebrity”

Truth rating: 10
(WSJ. Magazine)

By Daniel Gates

(WSJ. Magazine)

Julia Roberts opens up about her children, the death of her half-sister, and the problem with fame in a new WSJ. magazine cover interview.

“We’re just grateful for the sense we have of being like any other family down the street,” she says of her relatively quiet family life in Malibu, raising three children with cinematographer husband Danny Moder. “I don’t question it, frankly.”

She tells the outlet, “By the time we had kids, I had accomplished things and felt secure about that part of my life. I was so joyful moving into the family phase of my life in a sincere way.”

The couple worked together on her upcoming movie The Normal Heart. “I find it nerve-wracking in the best schoolgirl kind of way, and he knows that and is a good sport,” says Roberts. “I am usually hoping he’s not looking into the camera and thinking, ‘What is she doing?’ We have worked together a lot and whenever we get there, I think, ‘Why are we doing this again?’ But it’s great, and it allows us to travel together.”‘

In the project, Roberts portrays polio-stricken, wheelchair-bound physician Dr. Emma Bookner during the 1980s AIDS crisis. To prep for the part, she even brought home an old wheelchair. “It was the most actor-y I’ve ever been,” says Roberts. “But you don’t want to be bumping into walls and doorjambs and scraping your knuckles on things. I thought being in a wheelchair would be so easy and quiet, but it was actually quite tiring.”

The star seems to be OK with taking non-leading lady roles. “My preference would forever be ensemble,” Roberts tells the magazine. “It’s where I started, and it’s what I love. It’s just fun and interesting to see what your fellow actors are coming up with. Mystic Pizza was like that, Steel Magnolias was like that. It’s like being in a big family.”

After more than two decades in Hollywood, the actress sees a change in the nature of celebrity. She explains, “I think there is a dehumanization that goes with fame, especially in the present culture of it, which isn’t the culture I started off in. There wasn’t this analysis of every iota of every moment of every day.”

“Nobody cared about what you wore, nobody cared what haircut you had, if you had on makeup or didn’t,” says Roberts. “It’s become this sort of sport.” And it’s not one she wants to play.

Roberts says, “I don’t consider myself a celebrity, [at least not] how it is fostered in our culture today. I don’t know if I’m old and slow, but there seems to be a frenzy to it.”

The actress gave the WSJ. interview just weeks after the death of her half-sister Nancy Motes, and Roberts was clearly still in pain. “It’s just heartbreak,” she says in the article. “It’s only been 20 days. There aren’t words to explain what any of us have been through in these last 20 days. It’s hour by hour some days, but you just keep looking ahead.”

Roberts adds, “You don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone, but there are so many tragic, painful, inexplicable things in the world. But [as with] any situation of challenge and despair, we must find a way, as a family.” What do you think about what Roberts has to say?

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