For more stories like this, pick up the January issue of InStyle Australia, available December 14th.
It was 2001, and Julia Roberts was in the final days of shooting the film America’s Sweethearts. I was on set to interview her for Time magazine, and I was excited to meet her. Her publicist, Marcy Engelman, introduced us in the actress’s trailer. “We’ve met before,” Roberts said. I assured her we had not (I mean, it’s not like you’d forget meeting her). But she insisted I seemed familiar, so I suggested that maybe she’d seen me on TV—realizing only after it came out of my mouth that it sounded incredibly douchey. She gave me a look and responded, “That sounds like something George Clooney would say.” And that was the moment I fell in love with Julia Roberts.
"Marry the right person, give birth to a redhead, and have great girlfriends. Those would be the three keys to joy"
Sixteen years later we are once again in a trailer, this time on a ranch not far from Roberts’s Malibu home. It’s a blazing hot fall day, so she’s taking a break from our cover shoot with the air-conditioning on full blast. Her son Phinnaeus (Finn)—an unerringly polite, sharp, and funny red-haired 12-year-old—is hanging out as well; he’s feeling under the weather, so Roberts brought him here to nap under her watch.
He also occasionally monitors the interview. When I ask Roberts what advice she would share for looking and feeling great, Finn comes over and whispers in her ear. She looks back at him. “Give birth to a redhead?” she asks. He laughs and nods, and Mum answers the question: “Marry the right person, give birth to a redhead, and have great girlfriends. Those would be the three keys to joy.”
Still, this has been a year of milestones for her. Last summer she and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, celebrated 15 years of marriage. Their son Henry turned 10 in June. (The family marked the occasion with a soccer party at their house.) In November their twins, Hazel and Finn, will be 13. Watching them grow into teenagers, she says, is bittersweet. “All the clichés are true,” she says. “I’m so proud of them but also … ” She momentarily trails off. “I tried to carry somebody up to bed the other night, and it was just”—she claps twice, like a mom hurrying the kids along—“ ‘All right, you’re gonna have to get on your feet and sleepwalk because I just can’t get up the stairs.’ ”
There have been work milestones as well. Roberts just signed on to produce and star in a TV series for the first time—Amazon’s Homecoming, based on the critically acclaimed psychological thriller podcast (it starts shooting early next year). “[Listening to the podcast] you never know what’s happening, really, and I love that,” she says. Like many movie stars before her, Roberts believes that TV has become the entertainment industry’s most exciting medium: “I don’t want to go against my peoples, but it sort of is. There’s a lot of really good content and a lot of diversity.” Still, she considers the project “a total experiment … I don’t even know what it really requires. I just know how to watch a TV show. I don’t know how to make one.”