Julia Roberts: Acting with Meryl Streep a blessing and a curse | Inquirer Entertainment
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Julia Roberts: Acting with Meryl Streep a blessing and a curse

By: - Columnist
/ 11:07 PM November 23, 2013

ROBERTS plays Streep’s daughter in “August: Osage County.” It’s their first time to share the big screen. photo:aceshowbiz.com

LOS ANGELES—“It is a blessing and a curse because you just want to be amazing in front of her. But you are also terrified because it’s [she]—the best there is,” Julia Roberts said in a recent interview about acting opposite Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County.”

The good news is that Julia stands her ground in her scenes with Meryl, which include Julia (as Barbara) knocking the legendary actress (as Violet, Barbara’s mother) to the ground and telling Meryl to eat fish with some crisp swear words.


“As a person, she is so beautiful and so down-to-earth,” Julia praised Meryl. “August: Osage County,” John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family that screams and brawls at dinner (though they have just buried a family member), marks the first time that Julia and Meryl are sharing the big screen.


JULIA Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Meryl Streep had to scream at each other all day on the set. photo: aceshowbiz.com

The rest of the cast is impressive: Chris Cooper (who stands out in a scene where he reprimands his wife about their son but…quietly), Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson and Misty Upham.

“Meryl makes everybody feel so comfortable and supported,” Julia added. “She is quick to reveal that she is working just as hard as anyone else. She doesn’t hide it from you and that’s a great comfort. She’s a remarkable person.” Everyone in the cast was motivated to give his best, according to Julia. “We all tried to up our game as much as we could, I think.”

Knocked out

The actress recalled being “amazed, astounded, knocked out” when she saw “August” as a play on Broadway (playwright Letts also wrote the screenplay). “I was so thrilled to be invited into this [film]. I really do think Tracy Letts is a genius. And with Meryl, who I had long admired, it was a perfect scenario…a beautiful experience. Then George (Clooney) being one of the producers, and for Dermot Mulroney, who is also my longtime friend to be in it, it was really joyful—which we needed because amid screaming at each other all day in the scenes, we had to have that friendly security.”

Of George, another longtime friend, Julia gushed, “He is such a beautiful human being. I love sharing time with him. We always have such a good time together. He is a bit like a brother to me. I think of him that way.”

A nice perk about being George’s pal? Julia said she had been to his Lake Como (in Italy) villa a few times, when they did “Ocean’s Twelve.” She related, “I was pregnant, so my bedroom was on the first floor…so I wouldn’t have to walk up the stairs and get to the top huffing and puffing and needing resuscitation. I have also been there with my family. George is the perfect host.”


She cited another one of her male best friends, hair stylist Serge Normant: “I am spoiled for choice in my friendships.

Best friend

Among the actresses, Julia considers one “August” costar her best friend. “In my closest circle of girlfriends, none are actors—except for Julianne Nicholson.”

Julia stars next in yet another adaptation, “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical play, set amid the rise of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. Larry adapted his stage drama for HBO as a TV movie, directed by Ryan Murphy and starring Julia (as Emma Brookner), Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch and Jonathan Groff.

On the home front, Julia sounded like a typical mom, except this one gets to brawl with the world’s preeminent actress and play the evil queen (“Mirror Mirror”). She and her husband, cameraman Daniel Moder, have three kids: twins Hazel and Finn, 9, and Henry, 6. “My husband and I are very hands-on [parents]. They go to school; it’s a joy to watch their minds expand.”

Of Daniel, whom she married in 2002, Julia said, “He gives me lots of praise and accolades. So I feel appreciated in our household, for sure.” Does Daniel get his due praise in return? “My husband is exactly where he wants to be, make no mistake.”

Radiant at 46, Julia remarked about aging: “We all have our good days and bad days with the aging process. The alternative to aging is much less appealing. I just had my birthday (Oct. 28) and it was probably the best birthday I ever had. I think it’s all about good genes, which we have nothing to do with, and being where you want to be. I almost never wear makeup if I am not working. I very rarely wash my face at night. I floss and brush but I don’t always wash my face. I have always been an early riser. Five days a week, I wake up at 5:15 to get things sorted for breakfast for the kids and get them off to school. I try to make their lunches the night before so I have less to do in the morning. Four days a week, I volunteer at their school.”

Scarf for hubby

How she spends her spare time is a surprise: “Sally Field taught me to needlepoint [when we were doing]  ‘Steel Magnolias,’ and Eric Bart (scenic artist on ‘The Pelican Brief’) taught me how to knit. The nice thing is, you can be very [sociable] while knitting. You don’t have to be staring at it. So it’s a nice thing to do on a movie set. I have been knitting a long time so I think I am pretty good [now]. I made a bunch of stuff and now, my daughter knows how to knit as well.”

She is currently knitting a very intricate scarf for her husband. For Christmas, she said. “It would be a miracle if I get it done. We will see.”

(E-mail the columnist at [email protected]. Follow him at https://twitter.com/

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TAGS: Entertainment, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep

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