Julia Roberts Passed on Rom-Coms for 20 Years Because Worthy Scripts ‘Didn’t Exist’

"If I’d thought something was good enough, I would have done it." The "Pretty Woman" star explains why she hasn't been seen in a rom-com for two decades.
Julia Roberts attends the premiere for "Gaslit" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, April 18, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Julia Roberts
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

America’s sweetheart wasn’t wooed by a worthy romantic comedy in the last two decades.

Julia Roberts told the New York Times Magazine that the grass always seems to be greener when balancing dramatic and comedic roles as an actress, but that the rom-coms on offer for her until this year’s “Ticket to Paradise” were lacking the spark of her best ones, like “Notting Hill” or “Pretty Woman.”

“What I’ve learned is that you always want to do what you’re not doing,” Roberts said. “Whenever I’m in a comedy, I think I just want to be at a table with a cup of tea sobbing over something. Then you’re doing that, and you think, ‘Oh to be wearing a pretty dress and laughing.'”

Roberts explained that a worthy romance script to her “didn’t exist” until she read Ol Parker’s “Ticket to Paradise.” The film centers on a divorced couple, played by Roberts and longtime acting partner George Clooney, who set off to save their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying a stranger on vacation. Billie Lourd and “Emily in Paris” breakout Lucas Bravo also star. The film is slated for release later this year.

“But even with that, I thought, ‘Well, disaster, because this only works if it’s George Clooney,'” the “Gaslit” star admitted. “Lo and behold, George felt it only worked with me. Somehow we were both able to do it, and off we went.”

The “Pretty Woman” alum said, “People sometimes misconstrue the amount of time that’s gone by that I haven’t done a romantic comedy as my not wanting to do one. If I had read something that I thought was that ‘Notting Hill’ level of writing or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ level of madcap fun, I would do it.”

“My Best Friend’s Wedding” celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, and Roberts admitted that her family priorities were a driving factor in the roles she selected.

“Here’s the thing: If I’d thought something was good enough, I would have done it. But I also had three kids in the last 18 years,” Roberts added. “That raises the bar even more because then it’s not only ‘Is this material good?’ It’s also the math equation of my husband’s work schedule and the kids’ school schedule and summer vacation. It’s not just, ‘Oh, I think I want to do this.'”

The Oscar winner continued, “I almost didn’t do ‘August: Osage County’ because they were going to start filming right as our youngest son was starting kindergarten, and I was like, How could I miss this? That’s the female plight. That feeling of leaving is hard.”

And perhaps we can expect Roberts to join more rom-coms soon: “I love to laugh and be funny,” she said. “You get into that mode of those endorphins going off when you’re clever and people going, ‘Oh!’ Then that becomes this automatic thing where you’re always thinking in terms of creating fun. It’s a joy to play in that sandbox. It has been a long time.”

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