Julia Roberts is an Academy Award-winning American film actress and former fashion model, who shot to fame during the early 1990s after starring in the romantic comedy, Pretty Woman, opposite Richard Gere.
Since then, Roberts became the highest-paid actress in the world, topping the Hollywood Reporter's annual power list of top-earning female stars for four consecutive years (2002-2005).
Her career includes films such as Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and Ocean's Eleven, which have collectively earned box office receipts well over $2-billion.
She won the Best Actress Academy Award in 2001 for her critically praised turn as the title character in Erin Brockovich after two previous nominations during the 1990s.
For her fame and wholesome image, she is often referred to as "America's Sweetheart."
She was also placed at the pinnacle of the Ulmer Scale, a comprehensive guide to the global star power of actors and directors in independent and studio films created by James Ulmer, ahead of such other luminaries as Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks.
This was partly owing to her ability to attract filmgoers solely on the basis of her name's appearance above the title and without the support of a male co-star, something few other actresses are able to do.
Roberts is the first of two actresses (the other is Cameron Diaz) to join the coveted "$20 Million Club", when she signed to do Erin Brockovich for that amount. An unprecedented $25-million was paid to Roberts for her role in 2003's Mona Lisa Smile.
As of 2007, Roberts' net worth was estimated around US$140,000,000. She was also the first actress to appear on the cover of Vogue and the first woman to land on the cover of GQ.
Julia Roberts was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Her father, Walter Grady Roberts, was an actor and writer of Irish ancestry on his father's side and English-Scottish descent on his mother's.
Roberts's mother, Betty Lou Bredemus, a church secretary and actress, was born in Minneapolis in 1934, daughter of football player Wendell John Bredemus (whose mother was born in Sweden) and Elizabeth Ellen Billingsley.
While Mrs Roberts was pregnant with Julia, she and her husband ran an acting school for children in Decatur, Georgia. The children of Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King attended the school. As a thank you for their service, Mrs King paid the hospital bill when Mrs Roberts gave birth to Julia.
Roberts's parents divorced when she was five, and her mother remarried. Her father died of a heart attack when Roberts was nine. Her elder brother Eric Roberts, from whom she is estranged, is also an actor, as is her niece, Emma Roberts, whom she would often take along on sets when she was younger.
Roberts wanted to be a veterinarian as a child, but soon after graduating from Smyrna's Campbell High School, and attending Georgia State University, she headed to New York to join her sister and pursue a career in acting. Once there, she signed with the Click modeling agency and enrolled in acting classes.
She changed her name to Julia Roberts when she found that there was already a Julie Roberts registered with the Screen Actors Guild.
Roberts made her film debut playing a supporting role opposite her brother, Eric, in Blood Red (she gets just two words of dialogue), which, although completed in 1986, was not released until 1989.
Roberts first caught the attention of moviegoers with her performance in the independent film Mystic Pizza in 1988. The following year she was featured in Steel Magnolias as a young bride battling diabetes and garnered her first Oscar nomination (as Best Supporting Actress) for her performance.
She catapulted to worldwide fame when she co-starred with Richard Gere in the Cinderella story Pretty Woman in 1990. The role also earned her a second Oscar nod, this time as Best Actress.
Her next box office success was the thriller Sleeping with the Enemy, playing a battered wife who escapes her demented husband and starts a new life in Iowa.
She played Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991, which was followed by a two-year period of no acting roles other than a cameo appearance in Robert Altman's The Player (1992).
In early 1993, she was the subject of a People magazine cover story asking, "What Happened to Julia Roberts?"
She starred alongside Liam Neeson in the 1996 film Michael Collins. Later that year, she co-starred with Denzel Washington in the successful The Pelican Brief, based on the John Grisham novel.
Over the next few years, she starred in a series of films that were critical and commercial failures, primarily because she was cast in roles that strayed too far from her film persona.
She broke her losing streak with the hugely popular comedy My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), and eventually regained her earlier reputation as an actress who could open a movie and guarantee box office success.
She also starred with Hugh Grant in the popular 1999 film Notting Hill.
In 2001, she won critical acclaim and finally received a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich, who helped wage a successful lawsuit against energy giant Pacific Gas & Electric.
Her acceptance speech was one of the longest in Oscar history. It was criticised for being slightly ungracious and became fodder for late-night comedians.
At the same time, Roberts's win created a mild uproar in the film community because she had beaten out Ellen Burstyn's portrayal of Sara Goldstein in Requiem for a Dream.
Whilst presenting the Best Actor Award to Denzel Washington the following year she made a gaffe when she said she was glad Tom Conti wasn't there. She meant the conductor Bill Conti, who tried to hasten the conclusion of her speech the previous year, but named the British actor instead.
Subsequently, Roberts would team up with Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh for three more films: Ocean's Eleven, Full Frontal, and Ocean's Twelve.
Roberts recently enjoyed her Broadway debut as Nan in "Three Days of Rain" opposite Alias and Kitchen Confidential star Bradley Cooper, and The 40 Year Old Virgin star, Paul Rudd, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
Although the play grossed nearly one million dollars in ticket sales its first week out and continued to be a commercial success throughout its limited run, most critics heavily criticized Roberts' performance and the play itself.
Even New York Times' critic Ben Brantly, a self proclaimed 'Juliaholic', described her as being fraught with "self-consciousness (especially in the first act) [and] only glancingly acquainted with the two characters she plays."
Three Days of Rain received two Tony Award nominations in stage design categories but took home neither prize. Julia Roberts did, however, receive a Broadway.com audience award (a minor theatrical prize) for her peformance.
As of January 2006, Roberts's films had grossed $2.09-billion at the American Box Office, making her the biggest female movie star in history.
Roberts's personal life has often been in the spotlight, a fact reflected in her Notting Hill, a romantic comedy about a famous actress falling for a bookstore owner played by Hugh Grant. Her character, Anna Scott, was said to be closely modeled on Roberts herself.
(When asked in one scene how much she was paid to appear in a movie, Scott replies "fifteen million dollars" — precisely the amount Roberts had received to appear in the film.)
Roberts met Kiefer Sutherland, her co-star in Flatliners from 1990. Sutherland left his wife and children and moved in with Roberts. In August 1990, Roberts and Sutherland announced their engagement, with a wedding of 14 June 1991.
Roberts cancelled the wedding when she discovered Sutherland had had an affair with a stripper named Amanda Rice. Roberts went to Europe with Jason Patric after she and Sutherland broke up.
Eventually, she married country singer Lyle Lovett after the couple had known each other for a few weeks. Two years later, in March 1995, the couple announced that they were separating.
For the Christmas '98 premiere of Stepmom, Roberts appeared with television actor Benjamin Bratt. In late June 2001, Roberts and Bratt announced they were breaking up. "It's come to a kind and tender-hearted end," she said of their relationship.
Roberts also briefly dated Friends star Matthew Perry and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. For a time, she lived with actor Liam Neeson.
Roberts met her current husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, on the set of her movie The Mexican in 2000. He was already married to Vera Steimberg Moder, but they eventually divorced.
Roberts and Moder were married on Fourth of July, 2002, at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico. On November 28, 2004, they became the parents of fraternal twins, daughter Hazel Patricia and son Phinnaeus Walter, and they are expecting their third child.
Roberts bought a penthouse in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighbourhood. She reportedly loves to shop anonymously, buying her own organic greens on weekends at the market in nearby Union Square.
She and her family divide their time between their homes in New York City, Malibu, California, and their 50-acre retreat in Taos.
Roberts has a production company called Red Om Films ("Moder" spelled backwards; formerly "Shoelace Productions") and has given of her time and resources to UNICEF as well as to other charitable organizations.
In 2000, Julia narrated "Silent Angels", a documentary about Rett syndrome, which was shot in Los Angeles, Baltimore and New York. The documentary was designed to help raise public awarness about the disease.
In July 2006, Earth Biofuels announced that Roberts became a spokeswoman for the company and will be chairman of the company's Advisory Board, promoting the use of renewable fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.
She has been named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" a record-setting 10 times. She maintains a close friendship with actress-activist Susan Sarandon.
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