With her shiny auburn hair and megawatt smile, it’s hard to miss Julia Roberts. The Hollywood powerhouse has been wowing audiences for decades, and while she has always been gorgeous, her style and beauty routines have certainly gone through some transformations. From Pretty Woman curls to her Hook pixie cut and beyond, Julia Roberts stuns in just about anything. Now the mother of three keeps her style low-key, yet sophisticated.
And it’s not just Roberts’ looks that have transformed over the past few decades. From a small town Georgia girl feeling homesick in New York City to Hollywood’s leading actress, Roberts continues to wow audiences with her emotional performances and down-to-earth laugh.
Small town girl
Julia Roberts was born in Smyrna, Georgia on Oct. 28, 1967. She was the youngest of three children and clearly had acting in her blood. Her parents were both actors and even ran workshops for writers and actors.
Even though she grew up surrounded by performers, Roberts had a different childhood dream. She grew up wanting to be a veterinarian, but changed her mind to acting once she graduated high school. "I started taking science and biology and realized, wow, that is hard," she shared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Julia Roberts was a simply stunning teenager. If any of us had looked that good during our awkward years, we’d be movie stars too! Roberts graduated from Campbell High School in 1985, and went on to appear in Mystic Pizza in 1988.
When Roberts moved to New York to pursue acting, it was quite the rude awakening from her small Georgia town. "I was 17 when I moved to New York. It was a big difference from Smyrna, Georgia," Roberts told CBS This Morning. "I spent a lot of time by myself and I was just lonely, and the city was so fast and big. And so I would get on the phone with my mom crying, ‘I wanna come home.’"
It must have been heartbreaking to hear her teenage daughter crying on the other end of the phone, but her mother always told Roberts, "You stay right where you are. You work this out."
Julia Roberts appeared in Steel Magnolias and Pretty Woman
Julia Roberts and her gorgeous red curls hit center stage when she appeared in Steel Magnolias in 1989 and Pretty Woman in 1990. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Roberts shared that not everyone had been a fan of her or her movies. She candidly shared what one of the crew members later told her about Pretty Woman. "I have to take my hat off to you because the film’s doing so well," the crew member honestly told Roberts. "I just thought Pretty Woman sucked. I thought, who’s this girl that’s coming in to play this role? She sucked."
Fortunately for Roberts, there were many who didn’t think she sucked at all, and she quickly became a household name. Roberts attended her first Golden Globes in 1990, and was clearly a newbie. "She wore a store-bought suit from Giorgio Armani," InStyle‘s Dana Avidan-Cohn said (via ET Online). "She went in and bought the suit herself, and that’s what she wore."
Tinkerbell the diva?
In 1991, Julia Roberts starred as Tinkerbell in Hook. This was also the year when America’s sweetheart got her first taste of falling off the pedestal. Roberts appeared as the feisty fairy with a short pixie cut. However, it was rumors of behind-the-scenes disagreements that got people’s attention.
Rumors of diva-like behavior and disagreements hit the press. In an interview at the time, director Steven Spielberg was asked about the rumors and did not put them to rest. When asked about the film and Spielberg’s lack of response, Roberts admitted that it was a difficult time.
"Hand to God: not a thing I read about that was truthful, and it really hurt my feelings. Because not only did it make me sound mean, but it was a situation where people who knew the truth talked about it in a way that wasn’t untruthful," she told Vanity Fair. "I saw that and my eyes popped out of my head. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defense. It was a hard lesson to learn. It was the first time that I felt I had a turncoat in my midst."
Troubled waters and stepping away
Even ditching her sassy Tinkerbell shag and going back to long, dark hair didn’t make things much easier for Julia Roberts while making the film I Love Trouble in 1994. Again rumors and disagreements threatened to overshadow her. Roberts and costar Nick Nolte were known for not getting along, and this wasn’t exactly her favorite movie. "I don’t know what I’ve already said about I Love Trouble, other than that it was a piece of s**t," Roberts told Vanity Fair. "It’s no secret that Nick and I didn’t get along like a house on fire."
After that time, Roberts needed to step away, and we didn’t hear much from her for a year. "I don’t think I realized that the cost of fame is that it’s open season on every moment of your life," Roberts said to Vanity Fair. "That was a time when I was kind of followed every moment. One time I saw three men jump out of a hedge."
It was after that realization that Roberts took a break, but that didn’t stop the press from talking about her. "They said I was drug-addicted, alcoholic, anorexic — you name it," Roberts said. "I mean, they needed to say something in between the ‘She’s Through!’ period and the ‘She’s Back!’ period."
Blondes have more fun
After her hiatus, Julia Roberts emerged ready to go and blonde! The late ’90s were certainly busy for Roberts. She starred in the hits My Best Friend’s Wedding and then Stepmom. Trading her wild curls for her best mom bob, Roberts went blonde for Stepmom and kept that color for a while. She also started getting some better press.
"She’s really Miss America, isn’t she?" costar and bestie Rupert Everett told Vanity Fair. "She’s got all the qualities that people want an American woman to have."
But that doesn’t mean publicity comes naturally to her. "I don’t dislike it. I just don’t think I’m very good at it. I like everybody being nice to everybody. And there’s an element that’s so unkind, so mean-spirited. It used to be more polite," Roberts told O, the Oprah Magazine. "I couldn’t be an ingenue today, because the business has changed. I remember when you could dress for a premiere just by putting on a cute top. Now you have to be perfect and fabulous in every way, or you’re ridiculed."
Julia Roberts, romcom superstar
When it comes to romantic comedies, Julia Roberts never disappoints. In 1999, she made us all swoon when she starred opposite Hugh Grant in Notting Hill. By this time, her fame was out of control, and it even affected shooting the movie. "It was surreal," Grant told Vanity Fair. "We were shooting scenes in Notting Hill, where we had a hundred extras playing paparazzi, and then we had a hundred paparazzi paparazzi-ing the paparazzi."
As if that wasn’t enough, she made dreams come true when she reunited with Pretty Woman costar Richard Gere for Runaway Bride. It’s no wonder they got back together, since the two always had chemistry right from the beginning.
"I was so mesmerized," Gere told the Los Angeles Times when recalling the pair’s first meeting. "I don’t remember Garry [Marshall.] I just remember the girl."
True love at last
The press has always been fascinated with Julia Roberts’ love life, and it’s hard to blame them. She definitely had a thing for dating her leading men. Roberts dated many of her costars, including Kiefer Sutherland, Lyle Lovett, and Benjamin Bratt, before she found her true love Danny Moder on the set of The Mexican in 2000. She married him two years later in 2002, during a midnight ceremony on the Fourth of July.
Roberts told O, the Oprah Magazine in an interview that finding her husband helped her be more herself, and perhaps that’s what inspired her change back to her classic auburn hair. "A huge part of it is my marriage. My husband, Danny, has really shined the light for me," she said. "Because of being married, I’ve met people and experienced all these little things that have nurtured my life — not so much changed it, just nurtured it in a way that’s astounding."
In 2004, Julia Roberts made headlines again when she announced that she and her husband were expecting twins Hazel and Finn! They were born to very happy parents in 2005. Roberts went back to acting after the twins were born and spoke with Oprah about how surreal it was to be back on the set of Mona Lisa Smile.
"There was a day on Mona Lisa when I was in a Ukrainian library in Manhattan, in this kind of twirly skirt. Fabulous. I’m walking down this tiny winding staircase, and thinking about how I’m a grown woman who comes to work and has other people dress me and tell me what to say," Roberts told O, the Oprah Magazine. "I thought, ‘This is kind of silly, what I do.’ It’s really bizarre. And it struck me in this really profound way that what I do, ultimately, is play games. When Danny’s there looking at me, it kind of brings this awareness out. He knows me better than anybody, he can see what I’m putting on."
Well, whoever is dressing her, they’re doing a great job!
Back to red and back to work
Julia Roberts went back to her classic color we all love on her as she jumped back into the movie scene after the birth of her twins. However, being a working mother didn’t change her charismatic touch. Just ask her Charlie Wilson’s War costar Tom Hanks.
"There’s no professional I admire more than Julia," Hanks told The New York Times. "Working with her is like having fabulous dinner conversation with somebody you really like and who really likes you and is loaded with energy and intelligence."
Roberts starred alongside Hanks in 2007, after making her Broadway debut in Three Days of Rain in 2006 (via Biography).
Julia Roberts is gorgeous at any age
Julia Roberts proved that you don’t have to be in your 20s to rock a modern cut and style. After starring in Eat Pray Love in 2010, she opted for a gorgeous ombre color. Roberts clearly embraced her 40s and didn’t seem to worry about keeping up with younger looks and celebs.
There is always going to be another "America’s sweetheart," coming up, so Roberts doesn’t get competitive. When asked her thoughts on the popular younger actress Jennifer Lawrence, Roberts was graceful and supportive.
"I applaud her. She’s a young, fabulous, talented whippersnapper and I love that she’s stirring things up," Roberts said on Good Morning America. "I mean, she just — she’s so energetic and seems to speak her mind and I think it’s great. I think it’s great to kind of shake things up."
Julia Roberts now continues to keep her style elegantly simple. As a busy mom of three, she prefers to spend downtime with her kids as opposed to racing around to the next set.
"It’s about allowing time to just exist. Conversations [with her kids] require a complete disregard for the clock — so that you can just listen and really be present," she told InStyle. "It becomes a paradox of efficiency and presence. That’s why I love the summer. I just don’t care what time it is."
And she’s still keeping her private life private. You won’t find any Facebook lives or Instagram stories from Roberts. She chooses not to engage on social media. "It’s like people talking about a TV show: I can be perfectly aware of the TV show and the story, but it doesn’t mean I watch it," she told InStyle. "I have other friends who watch it, and they tell me about it. I mean, we were talking about Instagram. Everyone has Instagram on their phone. And I just, yeah, [if I had it] I would be looking at it all the time."
Julia Roberts turned 50 in style
Hollywood is often harsh to women as they get older, but Julia Roberts has found that her career is just as busy as it ever was. "With age comes more complexity of possible parts," she told The Oklahoman.
Her job security might be part of the reason that Roberts isn’t afraid of growing older, but it’s not the only one. Roberts is living her best life and, far from feeling like her best years are behind her, is excited to see what the future holds. Roberts turned 50 in 2017, and told Harper’s Bazaar the night before the milestone birthday that she didn’t have time to look back on her past. "Too much thinking and pondering, it’s exhausting to me," she said. "Because we’re still moving forward, aren’t we?"
Roberts has remained unbothered about growing older, telling inews.co.uk that she doesn’t understand why everyone makes such a fuss about turning 50. "For myself… I was quite proud and happy," she said.
Julia Roberts weighed in on the #MeToo movement
Julia Roberts has inspired generations of fierce feminists with her portrayals of strong women in films like Erin Brockovich and Mona Lisa Smile, so it’s especially empowering to see Roberts stand up for women in real life. Since the dawn of the #MeToo movement, many people have come forward with horrifying stories about the abuse they were subjected to in Hollywood. Roberts is grateful not to have experienced such trauma, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have thoughts on the movement. "I think so many things that come out of that were so shocking and the scope of it was really quite surprising," she told Sky News.
Hollywood may have made some significant strides in terms of gender equality thanks to the movement, but according to Roberts, there’s still a lot of work to be done. "You can never rest," she told The Oklahoman in 2018.
The progress she’s seen has made Roberts hopeful for the future, but feminism is still an uphill battle. "You think that’s sorted and you come around a corner and then how is it not sorted suddenly?" she asked. "How is it not fair?"
Julia Roberts branched out to television with Homecoming
Julia Roberts has spent most of her career on the big screen. Sure, she’s had some roles on television, such as guest spots on the shows Crime Story, Miami Vice, Friends, and Law & Order, but it wasn’t until 2018 that she became a bona fide television star when she began portraying Heidi Bergman on Homecoming — her first starring role on a TV show.
It was a whole new format for Roberts, but the transition from film to television was surprisingly not too extreme for the actress. Aside from being on a TV show giving her "more time to shoot and more time to unravel people," she explained to Variety that, at the end of the day, it’s all about storytelling for her. "Everything is just so good, the bar is just so high, and for me it’s just nice to bring something into people’s homes," she explained.
Julia Roberts became a great-aunt
Julia Roberts is such a powerhouse that it’s sometimes hard to remember that she comes from a star-studded family. Roberts is also the brother of actor Eric Roberts and the aunt of his daughter actress Emma Roberts. Roberts and her niece have a particularly close relationship, and the physical resemblance between them is one that many a moviegoer has been quick to notice. "It’s really cool to look at them," Eric told Us Weekly. "I love seeing them together."
Roberts even guided her young niece’s interest in the acting industry. In a 2014 appearance on The Queen Latifah Show, the younger actress revealed that she would often tag along with her aunt on movie sets when she was growing up. "You would have to drag me off set," she said.
Emma announced that she was pregnant with her first child in 2020, and Roberts seemed ecstatic that she was about to become a great-aunt. "Love you," she wrote in the comments of Emma’s gender reveal pic on Instagram (via Hello!). Emma gave birth later that year, and we’re sure Julia was all too excited to welcome baby Rhodes into the family.