Japanese fans of Julia Roberts have been waiting for her to come here ever since she made "Pretty Woman" in 1990. She’s one of the few A-list stars never to have promoted her movies in Japan, so the media (including a Korean contingent) were out in force when the 42-year-old Oscar winner descended on Japan recently for a six-day visit as part of her global promotional tour for "Eat Pray Love."
Although the tabloids had speculated that perhaps Roberts didn’t like Japan, the actress was tightlipped about why it has taken her so long to drop in on Tokyo. “It’s my good fortune to be here now,” is all she would say on the subject.
"Eat Pray Love" -- either a great romance or 140 minutes of drivel, depending on how you feel about the best-selling memoir written by Elizabeth Gilbert -- deals with a divorcee’s journey of enlightenment that takes her from New York to Italy (where she eats), India (prays) and Bali (where she falls in love again). Roberts said she read Gilbert’s book a long time ago, before there was ever any talk of a movie. “I never thought about it again until I got a call from my agent, though I always felt it was a great story.”
Predictably, Roberts was asked all sorts of questions about her own personal journey, her spirituality (she was born a Catholic but now practices Hinduism). However, the actress wasn’t getting into any of it. “My mother told me 22 years ago, ‘You’re an actor, act. Don’t talk about politics or religion,’” she said. Nor does she like being asked questions such as “my favorite scene in a movie, my favorite actor to work with, my favorite food, and so on. Why do people want to know that?”
In the film, Gilbert’s character undergoes some big changes to her life. Roberts, on the other hand, said of her own life: “No, no changes, I’m good. For me, growth is about excavating and nurturing what’s inside of you, what propels you, and not lipstick or the latest fashions. I think that for both men and women, we look inside ourselves to see what needs work and how we can shape our lives.”
Roberts, who has three children -- twins Hazel and Phinneaus, five, and three-year-old Henry with cameraman husband Danny Moder – said it can sometimes be a challenge balancing the roles of wife, mother and actress. “I get by with a tremendous amount of help and support. Some days are better than others. You just do the best you can,” said the actress whose family accompanied her to India and Bali while she was filming "Eat Pray Love." Going to exotic places was fun, but the hardest part of the shoot was the pasta-eating scenes in Italy, Roberts said. “They start out fun, but by pasta bowl #7 or 8, it starts to get a little wearisome.”
After she finishes her global tour, Roberts will produce a TV documentary series called "Extraordinary Moms" for Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network. Her next film will be the drama "Larry Crowne," in which she co-stars with Tom Hanks.
Roberts, who won the best actress Academy Award in 2000 for "Erin Brockovich," said her passion for her career has never waned. “Loving what you do is the secret to everything. I really do love the creative part of making movies,” she said. She also regularly appears on People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful list (“that’s my mom stuffing the ballot box,” she jokes).
As for the secret of her beauty: “Being happy inside…and a little Lancome eye cream,” she added. No surprise with that answer, since she is the face of the cosmetics brand.
"Eat Pray Love" opens in Japan on Sept 17.© Japan Today