Julia Roberts made a groundbreaking achievement as an A-list female movie star by commanding an unprecedented salary of $20 million for her role in the biographical legal drama 'Erin Brockovich'. Prior to this milestone, there existed a significant pay disparity, with no female actors earning as much as their male counterparts like Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks, who dominated the box office throughout the 1990s alongside Roberts.
'Erin Brockovich' proved to be a massive success in 2000, ranking as the No. 10 highest-grossing movie domestically. It garnered Universal Pictures a worldwide revenue of $256 million and received five Oscar nominations. Notably, Roberts secured the Best Actress win for her remarkable performance. However, Roberts had to face a challenging battle to become the only woman in Hollywood who could command a salary equal to that of a male movie star.
In a 2022 interview with Variety, Gayle King asked the actress about the negotiation tactics she employed to gain equal pay. "I didn't feel so boxish about it, but I felt like, 'Come on'," Roberts said. "Which is my nature — not to be all up-in-arms about something, but to say, 'Let's get real. Let's be fair.'"
At that time, Roberts had given the industry a string of highly successful romantic comedies in the '90s, like 'Pretty Woman', 'My Best Friend's Wedding', 'Notting Hill', and 'Runaway Bride. These films collectively amassed nearly $740 million in box office revenue, solidifying Roberts as a highly bankable and sought-after star in the industry. Recognizing her contributions to the film industry, Roberts acknowledged that she had earned her paycheck. "When I'm working, I work very hard," Roberts said. "I'm ready. I'm on time. I'm prepared. I'm happy. I'm all-in. So, show me the money."
During the interview, Roberts and King delved into the challenges associated with speaking out, particularly for women. King highlighted that for women, choosing to "take the high road" in situations involving salary negotiations and other matters often means remaining silent. However, Roberts asserted that she never harbored concerns about facing repercussions for advocating for herself. She was confident in standing up for what she deserved without fearing any negative consequences.
"I really cant help myself," Roberts said. "I'm a plain speaker and I say whats on my mind. I try to be thoughtful with my words. I don't fly off the handle, but I'm pretty direct. Not everybody warms to me." Continuing, she said, "I think some people would say I'm harsh or strict or intense, which secretly makes me laugh. I'm so happy someone thinks that." But, she adds, "It's OK to be authoritative about a situation without worrying people aren't going to like you. I like being liked, but I like things to be correct as well."
Julia Roberts' estimated net worth is approximately $250 million, primarily accumulated through her earnings from brand endorsements and film projects. Notably, in 2000, she became the first actress to receive a salary of $20 million for a single film. Additionally, Roberts has received substantial compensation, surpassing $600,000 per episode for certain projects. Her net worth continues to grow significantly each year.