Nominee Profile: Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
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“Acting alongside Meryl Streep, in the role of her daughter, arguing with her about the film, screaming at each other, fighting with her! Osage County was the best acting experience I’ve ever had.” Julia Roberts gets teary-eyed every time she talks about John Wells' August: Osage County, which has assured her a Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actress.
In the film, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts which opened on Broadway in 2007, Meryl Streep is Violet, the unbearable cancer stricken matriarch of an apparently normal family in the Midwest who calls her three daughters (Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson) to her side after her husband (Sam Shepard) commits suicide. The family reunites for the tragic event and in the course of a few days we witness the explosion of the turmoil hidden beneath its surface.
These are special times for Roberts who, as a child growing up in Smyrna, Georgia, wanted to be a veterinarian and then a journalist, before settling on acting, initially following her brother Eric’s footsteps in Hollywood. As an actress Julia Roberts is more accomplished than ever. And the first hint of wrinkles on her face only lends her beauty a sense of strength and peace. At 46, married to cameraman Danny Moder and mother of three kids, the former Pretty Woman is prettier than ever. Becoming a mother has clearly added substance and depth to her persona, on and off the screen. As an actress, she has matured in front of our eyes and, like for a good wine, age has been good to her. Today family life occupies most of her time when she is not shooting a movie. Twitter and Facebook on the other hand have little space in her life - she prefers reading books and cooking at home to social media.
In Osage she provides a dose of common sense and a solid foundation to the family's fragile structure. In that sense, she is a counter-balance to Streep's neurotic and melodramatic exploits. Roberts doesn't think about Golden Globes or Academy Awards for this performance, and yet she winks when thinking about her Golden Globe and Oscar wins for Erin Brockovich in 2000.
Even though familial turmoil is at the center of Osage County, Roberts swears she never had similar family drama in her life. “I was lucky enough to have great parents, and I never experienced the same problems with my mom as my character had with her mom in the movie,” she says. “But Tracy Letts' script, which he adapted from his own play, was so detailed and psychologically deep that I totally became Barbara. I didn't have to look any further than the page and myself to find her."
Osage was also special in the way it was made, as a theater play, with the actors living together on location, inhabiting their respective characters each day. The production was shot on location in Oklahoma, using a real house and a nearby condo as headquarters for cast and crew. In the evening everybody would get together, usually in Meryl Streep’s apartment, for a potluck dinner and to discuss the next day’s scenes.
After working at a fast pace for the last three years (Larry Crowne, Eat Pray Love, Mirror Mirror), Roberts has slowed down a bit of late and is now enjoying her newfound love for acting. Her next project will be the TV movie The Normal Heart. In the meantime she's looking forward to reunite with “La Grande Streep” and rest of the cast of August: Osage County at the Golden Globes on January 12.