Julia Roberts is undoubtedly one of the , having been responsible for some of Hollywood’s most celebrated films in this genre.
After earning international acclaim for her performance in the 1990s cult classic , Roberts became , going on to star in mega-hits like , , and , and becoming one of the highest earning actresses of the 1990s.
So endearing were Roberts’ performances that most of her films have become cultural touchstones, defining the genre and setting the standard for future romantic comedies. Astoundingly, after enjoying rom-com icon status for over a decade, , preferring roles in more dramatic films. Here’s why the now 55-year-old actress pulled back from the genre and might not be returning in the near future.
Though gifted with incredible versatility, one can’t deny that Julia Roberts makes an outstanding romantic comedy lead. The now 55-year-old actress first captivated audiences with her breakthrough performance in the 1990s rom-com , where she portrayed Vivian Ward, a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy businessman. The film catapulted Roberts to international stardom, cementing her status as one of Hollywood’s preferred leading ladies.
Despite becoming almost synonymous with the genre for the first decade of her career, Roberts decided to pull back from rom-coms in the 2000s. In a , Roberts explained her decades-long absence from the genre, claiming that she no longer believed she could play a convincing a rom-com lead.
"There came a point in my career where people thought I had turned on romantic comedies, which I love them, I love to be in them, I love to watch them,” she said. “But sometimes, they just don't work at a certain point of life experience."
Julia Roberts had all but stopped appearing in rom-coms by the late 2000s, opting to focus her energies on more dramatic roles. The 55-year-old would later explain this sudden shift in preference in a .
“What I’ve learned is that you always want to do what you’re not doing,” she said. “Whenever I’m in a comedy, I think I just want to be at a table with a cup of tea sobbing over something. Then you’re doing that, and you think, Oh to be wearing a pretty dress and laughing.”
As unlikely as it might sound, not finding worthwhile projects is also another reason Julia Roberts strayed from the rom-com genre. In her interview with , the 55-year-old explained that she hadn’t come across a rom-com worth her time until she was offered an opportunity to star alongside George Clooney in Ol Parker’s .
“People sometimes misconstrue the amount of time that’s gone by that I haven’t done a romantic comedy as my not wanting to do one,” she explained.
“If I had read something that I thought was that level of writing or level of madcap fun, I would do it. They didn’t exist until this movie that I just did that Ol Parker wrote and directed. Even with that, I thought, ‘Well, disaster, because this only works if it’s George Clooney.' Lo and behold, George felt it only worked with me. Somehow, we were both able to do it, and off we went.”
Parenthood might also be another reason Julia Roberts chose to pull back from rom-coms and acting altogether. In her interview with , the mother of three disclosed that becoming a homemaker led her to reevaluate the kind of film projects she took on.
“If I’d thought something was good enough, I would have done it,” she told . “But I also had three kids in the last 18 years. That raises the bar even more because then it’s not only Is this material good? It’s also the math equation of my husband’s work schedule and the kids’ school schedule and summer vacation. It’s not just, Oh, I think I want to do this. I have a sense of great pride in being home with my family and considering myself a homemaker."
Roberts also revealed that taking on new projects became less straightforward as her kids matured.
“For so much of my children’s younger life they would see their dad go off, and I would work a little, but they almost didn’t notice," she said. "But as they get older, and particularly with my daughter, I do have a sense of responsibility for showing my children that I can be creative and that it’s meaningful to me — so meaningful that for periods of time I will choose to focus on that almost more than my family, which has been hard for me to come to terms with.”