After lighting the world on fire in 1990’s Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts has starred in so many iconic projects she’s virtual Hollywood royalty. But for the first time she sits at a crossroads of evil and funny that seems tailor made for her. As the Evil Queen in Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s Snow White comedy Mirror Mirror, Roberts walks effortlessly off with the whole show, and during the LA press event promoting the film, she shared the secrets of her success.
Had you been looking for a bad guy role to play or was it just the script that grabbed you?
No it was just Tarsem. I’m so crazy about that guy, there’s no two ways about it. He’s so remarkable and his point of view is so original and massive. I really just wanted to have lunch with him. I didn’t really care what we were going to talk about, you know, and then he spins his web and there’s no getting out of it.
Did you ever feel you were fading into the background on all these expansive sets full of effects?
I didn’t feel lost because it’s not so crazy and special effect-y. I mean, it was all kind of there for me, I never felt that I was looking at tennis balls or didn’t understand where I was. Even when we did the stuff in the cottage where I’m with myself as it were, we had worked it out so well. My sister, who’s also an actor, had come to read the other side for me so I at least had this comfort of voice that made sense as we went back and forth. So that was really as confusing as it got. But otherwise it all seemed like it was right there before us.
Some fairy tales, including Snow White, are quite brutal. How do you decide what’s appropriate for your kids?
Parental editing, that’s what I call it. You start and then you get through part of it and make some stuff up and make some stuff nicer and then you say, ‘the end, that was a short one.’ Just look at the fairy tale of Rapunzel, the price falls out of the tower and has his eyes gouged out. He wanders through the desert and the streets bleeding and looking for her but of course he’s blind. I read that story to my kids, but the strongly edited version.
Is it hard to stay excited about new projects after a career spanning 20 years?
It’s not. I feel like if I have the privilege to be part of something and I’m going to take time away from my life, which I’m enjoying, it’s got to be something that I’m going to be pretty excited about. And I like my job. I’m happy at work so I try to appreciate all the time I’m there and make the most of it.
Do you prefer to play the pretty woman or the bad girl?
Well, they’re not mutually exclusive.
Is one tougher than the other?
Everything has its challenges, from being funny and being nice to being mean. You try to do it the best you can on the day because it’s going to last forever.
Did you have any second thoughts when you heard there was going to be another Snow White movie?
There’s always another something. I mean there’s another Lily Collins and Julia Roberts somewhere. When it comes to movies there’s always another one, movies come two by two. It seems to be incredibly competitive and unusual yet it happens on such a regular basis. All you can do s take care of your own home and that really becomes all that matters.
Are things easier or harder now than when you were (co-star Lily Collins) age of 22?
It’s changed totally. It seemed so much easier then, it made more sense. There was more of a gradual progression in the way the business worked was when I started out. All the media outlets and so much more attention and scrutiny and this culture of meanness is new.
Any desire to direct or write after all your experience?
Zero. I’ll leave it to Lily. The young have energy and talent. I don’t know if I could handle so many people coming at you and looking at you for answers to a whole lot of questions. I just like my one little section.
What do you look for in a Prince Charming?
Oh, I’ve got mine. I’m good.
And what makes him charming?
That’s for me to know, and you not to know.