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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 January, 2004, 15:32 GMT
Roberts' love affair with the public

By Darren Waters
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Actress Julia Roberts' win of her ninth People's Choice Award is a sign of the American public's remarkable and enduring love affair with the Erin Brockovich actress.

She may have an Oscar, a Bafta and three Golden Globes but nothing on Julia Roberts' mantelpiece can be as impressive as her now nine People's Choice awards.
Julia Roberts
Is she still the People's Choice?

For more than a decade Roberts has proved herself America's favourite sweetheart, winning the award for the past four consecutive years.

She has seen off competition from the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez and upcoming stars like Kirsten Dunst can only imagine what such popular appeal is like.

Last year, Roberts did not even turn up to pick up her award.

"I am proof positive that anything is possible in your life. I am just a girl from Smyrna, Georgia who wanted to be in movies," Roberts once said and it is a sentiment that clearly touches American audiences.

But she has not been lighting up cinemas in the last 12 months, taking a series of supporting roles and cameo performances.

Roles in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Full Frontal have been low key but Roberts' appeal has never been tied to her box office success.

In 1991 she won the award for the first time, even though her only film of the year was the poorly-received Hook, in which she appeared as a six-inch Tinkerbell.

A year later and she repeated the success, despite not appearing in a single film during the preceding 12 months.

Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt
Roberts' love life has made many column inches
She has an appeal which transcends the harsh eye of the box office, achieving a level of popularity unequalled since the days of Hollywood stars of the 1940s and 1950s.

Garry Marshall, who directed Roberts in Pretty Woman and The Runaway Bride, described the actress as a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Bambi.

Perhaps it is that mix of the vulnerable, the stylish and the homespun which makes her such a fans' favourite.

The reason for her success in remaining close to the affections of the American public may lie in the very spirit of the awards themselves.

The Peoples' Choice awards do not recognise performances in individual films or productions but are instead awarded after a wide-ranging poll of the American public.

She has retained that affection despite a traumatic personal life over the last two years which saw her start dating a married man, cameraman Danny Moder, and then marrying him when he divorced his wife.

Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts
Roberts proved popular in Notting Hill
The relationship was characterised by a very public row with Moder's ex-wife, Vera, which was covered in great detail in the press.

At the height of the bitter row, Roberts was seen wearing a T-shirt with A Low Vera on it.

But such apparent pettiness has not proved any impediment in the romance between Roberts and her audience.

The public has seen it all before - Roberts' love life has hit headlines over heartache, break-ups and regrets - but its support is unwavering and ever faithful.

Roberts' rivals this year were old foes Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock.

Bullock's role in Two Weeks Notice proved very popular at the box office, earning $98m despite lukewarm reviews.

And Berry appeared in X-Men 2, one of the biggest films of the year, giving her maximum exposure.

But it was another processional coronation for the star.




SEE ALSO:
Winners absent from People's Choice
13 Jan 03  |  Entertainment
Gere and Roberts top romance poll
16 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Roberts up for People's Choice
03 Dec 03  |  Entertainment



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