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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 05:32 GMT 06:32 UK
Julia Roberts: America's sweetheart
Erin Brockovich
Roberts: Best actress Oscar winner
Hollywood actress Julia Roberts has attained a special place in the hearts and affections of cinema goers.

Oscar host Steve Martin introduced her as "America's sweetheart" and her triumph in winning the best actress Academy Award was the least surprising of the night.

Her emotional Oscars speech was applauded by an audience who cannot get enough of the star who first won fame playing a prostitute who stole the heart of Richard Gere in 1990's Pretty Woman.

Since then, she has gone on to join the movie world's A-list stars and become the world's most bankable female star, earning a reported $20m a movie.

"I love the world," she declared after receiving her Oscar and it would seem the world loves her.

She has not always been taken seriously as an actress, until now, and won popularity for her girl-next-door appeal, seen in films such as Flatliners, Notting Hill and Runaway Bride.

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)

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.

Stardom

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.

Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a household name
Pretty Woman made Julia Roberts a household name

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.

The actress's personal life was also in a slump following a much-publicised break-up from the actor Keifer Sutherland.

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

Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding
My Best Friend's Wedding helped put Roberts back on track

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

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.

Salary

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.

Julia Roberts in Notting Hill
Notting Hill put Roberts and London on the map

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 - the largest for a screen actress to date - further demonstrated Roberts's value to movie studios.

Her Golden Globe award and Oscar award for the same film proves she is also embraced by critics and audiences.

Her most recent film, The Mexican, finds her starring opposite Brad Pitt, and she will shortly reunite with her Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh for a remake of Ocean's Eleven.

Links to more Film stories are at the foot of the page.


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