Julia Roberts is often referred to by fans as America's sweetheart – a title she earned for her endearing roles on screen. But, even the most amiable stars have their limits, and sometimes when they go out of their character, people take that for rudeness.
The Pretty Woman star faced several controversies while working with renowned director Steven Spielberg in the 1991 film Hook. She was accused of having an attitude on the set, which Roberts denied from the start.
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Hook is a retelling of the classic Peter Pan story where Julia Roberts played Tinkerbell alongside Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. Rumors spread like wildfire on the set when the actress was accused of displaying bad behavior, earning her the nickname 'Tinkerhell.'
Steven Spielberg did not confirm the rumor, but his response made Roberts even more upset. Speaking with 60 Minutes via Vanity Fair, the filmmaker commented:
"It was an unfortunate time for us to work together."
Roberts admitted the rumors greatly affected her, but nothing was more hurtful than knowing the people she trusted would not even defend her:
"Hand to God: not a thing I read about that was truthful, and it really hurt my feelings. Because not only did it make me sound mean, but it was a situation where people who knew the truth talked about it in a way that wasn't untruthful."
The 55-year-old Notting Hill star reacted to Spielberg's remark and confessed feeling betrayed:
"I saw that and my eyes popped out of my head. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defense. It was a hard lesson to learn. It was the first time that I felt I had a turncoat in my midst."
Aside from the speculation that Julia Roberts was a difficult person to work with, there was also word that she did not want to push through with the project. The rumor started after she broke up with her then-boyfriend Kiefer Sutherland. But she quickly refuted the buzz.
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Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Julia Roberts revealed she had a fever on the day of filming, and she had to remain in the hospital for five days, which prompted the question of her ever going back to filming Hook:
"Would I return to the set of Hook was never in question with anybody that had to do with the film. This was something drummed up by the press. The fact is, you know, I had been working on Hook for quite some time, doing the technical preparations and stuff, and then it was actually on my first day of filming I got up to go to work, and I was freezing cold because I had this fever."
Even after she got out of the hospital, the rumors persisted to the point that she asked Spielberg for help:
"I finally was advised by a friend to go talk to Steven. And I said to him, 'You know, I really need you to help me out here. This is getting crazy. Too many people are reading it and believing it.'"
Julia Roberts later said in the interview that she is not perfect and has normal frustrations like everyone else. The actress insisted that despite these allegations, she does not see herself as a temperamental person.
Hook is available to stream via Prime Video, Apple TV, and Netflix.
: Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly
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