Who Is Julia Roberts?

Actress Julia Roberts made her screen debut in the late 1980s television series Crime Story. She starred in Steel Magnolias in 1989, earning an Academy Award nomination for her performance. One of her most iconic roles was in Pretty Woman (1990), with Richard Gere. Roberts eventually went on to win an Oscar for her lead role in Erin Brockovich (2001). She is known for being one of the highest-paid actors and biggest box-office earners in Hollywood.

Early Life

Julia Fiona Roberts was born on October 28, 1967, in Smyrna, Georgia, the youngest of three children and surrounded by creative individuals. Her parents were both actors who ran a workshop for aspiring writers and performers until their divorce in 1971. Initially, Roberts wanted to become a veterinarian, but she abandoned this dream when she realized that she had "an inability to deal with science on a brainiac kind of level." After graduating from high school in 1985, Roberts moved to New York City to live with her sister, Lisa, who, along with Roberts's brother, Eric, was pursuing an acting career.

Big Break

In New York, Roberts also joined the family business, landing a guest appearance on the television series Crime Story in 1987. She really caught the public's eye, however, as the wild but vulnerable Daisy in Mystic Pizza (1988). The following year, Roberts cemented her status as a rising star in Steel Magnolias (1989), appearing alongside such acting legends as Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field, and earning an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.

After that, Roberts's career took off. She played a hooker who falls in love with a client (Richard Gere) in the box-office hit Pretty Woman (1990). For her convincing performance, Roberts received an Academy Award nomination for best actress. She followed up that role with a few career missteps: Dying Young (1991) received mixed reviews, as did Hook (1991), which revisited the story of Peter Pan. Both films also proved to be disappointments at the box office. Around this same time, Roberts called off her wedding to actor Kiefer Sutherland, her co-star in 1990's Flatliners, just days before the ceremony was scheduled to take place.

Mature Roles

After taking a break from film, Roberts landed another big hit with the thriller The Pelican Brief (1993), co-starring Denzel Washington.

Mary Reilly (1996) starred Roberts in a decidedly unglamorous role, playing a maid who works for Dr. Jekyll. Audiences were less than enthusiastic about the film. Returning to her image as America's sweetheart, Roberts dominated the box office with such romantic comedies as My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) with Dermot Mulroney and Notting Hill (1999) with Hugh Grant. Her star appeal even helped draw audiences to the critically panned Runaway Bride, in which Roberts again joined up with her Pretty Woman co-star Gere. In 1997, she starred alongside Mel Gibson and Patrick Stewart in the thriller Conspiracy Theory.

Roberts made a dramatic breakthrough in 2000, delivering a powerful performance as a gutsy, struggling single mom serving as the title character in Erin Brockovich. In the film, which is based on a true story, Erin Brockovich helps lead a fight against a California power company that allegedly poisoned a small town's water supply. Roberts won several awards for her performance in the project, including her first Oscar. Her $20 million salary for the film was also a Hollywood milestone, making her first woman to receive such a hefty sum.

The following year, Roberts starred in the independent film The Mexican with Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini. While making the movie, she met cameraman Danny Moder. He was married at the time, and Roberts was dating actor Benjamin Bratt. Roberts and Moder became good friends and later embarked upon a romantic relationship after they had split from their respective partners.

Career Success

After Erin Brockovich, Roberts took on some lighthearted roles, appearing in Ocean's Eleven (2001) and Ocean's Twelve (2004) alongside Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia.

She then took on an emotionally challenging part in Closer (2004) with Clive Owen, Natalie Portman and Jude Law. Directed by Mike Nichols, the film explored the complexities surrounding two relationships marked by deceit and infidelity. Roberts then made her Broadway debut in 2006, performing in Three Days of Rain alongside Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. While the drama received mixed reviews, it was a huge financial success, earning more than $12 million for a 12-week run.

Roberts then starred in the film Charlie Wilson's War (2007) with Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, receiving a Globe Globe nomination (best supporting actress) for her portrayal of an anticommunist Texas socialite who encourages Congressman Charlie Wilson to support freedom fighters in Afghanistan in their conflict against the Soviet troops.

The actress's next project, 2008's Fireflies in the Garden, boasted another all-star cast, including Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson and Ryan Reynolds. The family drama gave Roberts a chance to work with her husband, Moder, who served as the film's director of photography. Fireflies in the Garden was shown during the Berlin Film Festival and released abroad, but was not given a theatrical run in the United States.

Return to Film

Returning to American cinemas in 2009 with Duplicity, Roberts reunited with her Closer co-star Owen. She explained her two-year absence from the American movie scene to People magazine, saying, "I don't have the bug to work. I have the bug to make good movies, and those don't come along very often." While the film was not a huge hit, critics heralded Roberts's return. "It is an undeniable thrill to see her again," wrote Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly.

In addition to acting, Roberts has worked behind the scenes. She served as an executive producer on the short-lived TV series Queens Supreme (2003) and on TV adaptations of the American Girl stories, including 2008's Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, starring Abigail Breslin as the title character.

'Eat Pray Love'

In 2010, she appeared in both the ensemble comedy Valentine's Day and the drama Eat Pray Love—a film adaptation of the bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert. The following year, she starred with Hanks in Larry Crowne, about a man who reinvents himself after experiencing a midlife crisis.

Roberts transitioned into the fantasy realm as the evil queen in Mirror Mirror (2012), the retelling of the classic fairy tale Snow White. She starred in the film alongside actors such as Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane and Lily Collins. Despite the addition of Roberts to the already well-known cast, the film received lackluster to mediocre reviews. The following year she appeared in the drama August: Osage County, co-starring Breslin, Ewan McGregor and Meryl Streep, for which Roberts was nominated for her fourth Academy Award.

In 2014, Roberts gave an impressive performance on the small screen. She appeared in the drama The Normal Heart with Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons. Based on Larry Kramer's play, the movie explores the lives of a group of gay men during the early years of the AIDS crisis. Roberts received an Emmy Award for her supporting role as a doctor treating AIDS patients.

In 2015, Roberts co-starred opposite Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the police thriller Secret in Their Eyes. The following year, she joined the star-studded cast of Garry Marshall's romantic comedy Mother's Day and shared top billing with Clooney in the Jodie Foster-directed thriller Money Monster.

After playing the mother of a boy with a facial deformity in 2017's Wonder, Roberts threw herself into another challenging maternal role for the 2018 drug-addiction drama Ben Is Back. That year, she also enjoyed the first small-screen starring role of her career on Amazon's Homecoming, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series.

Relationships, Husband & Children

Roberts was notorious for her celebrity romances, dating leading men like Sutherland, Dylan McDermott, Jason Patric, Liam Neeson and Matthew Perry.

In a surprising turn of events, Roberts wed country singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett on June 25, 1993, in Marion, Indiana. The union proved to be short-lived, with the couple separating in March 1995 and eventually divorcing. In 1998, Roberts started dating Bratt, with their relationship lasting until 2001.

On July 4, 2002, Roberts married Moder at her ranch in Taos, New Mexico. The couple welcomed twins Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia in November 2004. Their third child, son Henry Daniel, was born in June 2007.

In 2010, Roberts revealed she practices Hinduism.


  • Name: Julia Roberts
  • Birth Year: 1967
  • Birth date: October 28, 1967
  • Birth State: Georgia
  • Birth City: Smyrna
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: Julia Roberts is an Academy Award-winning actress and one of Hollywood's top stars, known for such films as 'Steel Magnolias,' 'Pretty Woman' and 'Erin Brockovich.'
  • Industries
    • Film
    • Television
    • Theater and Dance
  • Astrological Sign: Scorpio
  • Interesting Facts
    • Roberts was the first actress to receive a $20 million salary for a single film, for her title role in 2000's Erin Brockovich.

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  • Article Title: Julia Roberts Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/julia-roberts
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: April 6, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014


  • I don't have the bug to work. I have the bug to make good movies, and those don't come along very often.
  • Acting fulfills me in a creative way... and it gives me something to talk about at dinner.