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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Julia Roberts: America's sweetheart
Julia Roberts
Roberts: Said to be the world's most bankable actress
US star Julia Roberts, the highest-paid film actress in a list of the 100 most powerful women in entertainment, has a special place in the affections of cinema-goers and Hollywood studios alike.

As well as commanding a reported $20m (£13.1m) a movie, the A-list actress is said to be the world's most bankable female star.

Julia Roberts winning her Oscar
Roberts's Oscar win: "I love the world"
She cemented her status as a leading lady with her emotional Oscar acceptance speech in 2001 for Erin Brockovich - in which she declared "I love the world".

It was applauded by an audience who cannot get enough of Roberts, who first won fame playing a prostitute who stole the heart of Richard Gere in 1990's Pretty Woman.

Her popularity was originally based on her girl-next-door appeal, seen in films such as Flatliners, Notting Hill and Runaway Bride.

But her reputation as an actress has grown, and her portrayal of the feisty single mother Erin Brockovich made the critics sit up and take notice.

Julia Roberts films
Satisfaction (1988)
Mystic Pizza (1988)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Pretty Woman (1990)
Flatliners (1990)
Hook (1991)
Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)
The Player (1992)
The Pelican Brief (1993)
Prêt-à-Porter (1994)
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
Stepmom (1998)
Notting Hill (1999)
Runaway Bride (1999)
Erin Brockovich (2000)
The Mexican (2001)
America's Sweethearts (2001)
Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Julia Roberts was born on 28 October 1967 in Smyrna, Georgia.

Her parents ran an actors and writers workshop in their home so their young daughter grew up in the company of people who loved acting.

It was natural that both she and her brother Eric would also be bitten by the performance bug.

After finishing high school, Roberts moved to New York where she was quick to sign herself an agent.

She made her first film alongside her brother in Blood Red, made in 1986 but not released until 1989.

This was followed by an uneventful period in which she appeared in only a couple of made-for-TV movies and the low-budget Firehouse in 1987.

Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a household name
Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a household name
Roberts's first break came in 1988 when she landed a role in Mystic Pizza playing a Portuguese waitress in a small-town pizzeria, for which she won critics' praise.

She went on to win an Oscar nomination for Steel Magnolias the following year, playing opposite Hollywood heavyweights Shirley Maclaine and Sally Field.

Then came Pretty Woman, which garnered her a second Oscar nod and propelled her to international fame.

Two big hits followed, supernatural thriller Flatliners and the battered wife drama Sleeping With the Enemy.

But her next movie, the weepie Dying Young in 1991, was a flop and Roberts's career seemed to take something of a nosedive.

Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding
My Best Friend's Wedding helped put Roberts back on track
The actress's personal life was also in a slump following a much-publicised break-up from the actor Keifer Sutherland, who is currently starring in the hit BBC Two series 24.

The couple split on the eve of their much-publicised wedding.

After she finished her scenes as Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook, Roberts decided to retreat from the scene.

In this time, she made brief movie appearances such as in Robert Altman's Hollywood satire The Player in 1992.

Julia Roberts in Notting Hill
Notting Hill put Roberts and London on the map
But her private life hit the headlines again when she married country singer Lyle Lovett in 1993.

That same year, Roberts seemed also to regain her appetite for the movies but her career over the next few years went up and down.

Success in The Pelican Brief was followed by an anti-climax in the panned I Love Trouble and Prêt-à-Porter and surprise flop Mary Reilly.

But all was not lost and despite her divorce from Lovett, Roberts finally bagged two big winners in 1996 with Michael Collins and Conspiracy Theory.

Love life

They were followed by the smash hit My Best Friend's Wedding and 1999's Notting Hill and Runaway Bride.

Her $20m salary for Erin Brockovich - rivalled only by fellow actress Cameron Diaz - further demonstrated Roberts's value to movie studios.

Although The Mexican, in which she starred opposite Brad Pitt, was not a huge success, Ocean's Eleven, which reunited her with Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh topped the US box office.

Her work in front of the camera was not all that kept her busy during this period.

Roberts also dated actor Benjamin Bratt for three and a half years, but they split in May 2001, immediately following her Oscar triumph.


Bratt, 35, who recently said he found it tough living with Roberts's level of fame, married actress Talisa Soto in a private ceremony in April.

Roberts said her affair with Bratt had come to a "tender-hearted end" and denied the break-up had been caused by her rumoured "involvement" with former ER heart-throb George Clooney.

Roberts recently began a relationship with cameraman Daniel Moder, and it has been closely followed by the tabloid press.

They married in July 2002, in the privacy of her estate in New Mexico, but no doubt it will keep the actress firmly in the glare of the world's publicity machine.

See also:

04 Jul 02 | Showbiz
21 Nov 01 | Showbiz
26 Mar 01 | Film
15 Mar 00 | Entertainment
02 Aug 99 | Entertainment
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