Her films have collectively brought box office receipts of over US$2.6 billion, making her one of the most successful actresses in terms of box office receipts. Roberts was the highest-paid actress in the world throughout the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s. Her fee for 1990's Pretty Woman was US$300,000; in 2003, she was paid an unprecedented US$25 million for her role in Mona Lisa Smile (2003). As of 2010, Roberts's net worth was estimated to be US$140 million.
She portrays Isabel Pullman.
Roberts was born on October 28, 1967, in Smyrna, Georgia, to Betty Lou Bredemus (1934–2015) and Walter Grady Roberts (1933–1977). She is of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, and Swedish descent. Her father was a Baptist, her mother a Roman Catholic, and she was raised Catholic. Her older brother, Eric Roberts, from whom she was estranged until 2004, sister Lisa Roberts Gillan, and niece Emma Roberts, are also actors.
Roberts's parents, one-time actors and playwrights, met while performing theatrical productions for the armed forces. They later co-founded the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, off Juniper Street in Midtown. They ran a children's acting school in Decatur, Georgia, while they were expecting Julia. The children of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King attended the school; Walter Roberts was their daughter Yolanda Denise King's acting coach. As a thank-you for his service, Mrs. King paid Mrs. Roberts's hospital bill when Julia was born.
Her parents married in 1955. Roberts's mother filed for divorce in 1971; the divorce was finalized in early 1972. From 1972, Roberts lived in Smyrna, Georgia, where she attended Fitzhugh Lee Elementary School, Griffin Middle School, and Campbell High School. In 1972, her mother married Michael Motes, who was abusive and often unemployed; Roberts despised him. The couple had a daughter, Nancy Motes, who died at 37 on February 9, 2014 of an apparent drug overdose. The marriage ended in 1983, with Betty Lou divorcing Motes on cruelty grounds; she had stated that marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. Roberts's own father died of cancer when she was ten.
Roberts wanted to be a veterinarian as a child. She also played the clarinet in her school band. After graduating from Smyrna's Campbell High School, she attended Georgia State University, but did not graduate. She later headed to New York to pursue a career in acting. Once there, she signed with the Click Modeling Agency and enrolled in acting classes.
In 1988, Julia Roberts made her first big screen appearance in the film Satisfaction , alongside Liam Neeson and Justine Bateman, as a band member looking for a summer gig. Though she had previously performed a small role in Blood Red alongside her brother in 1987, she had only two words of dialogue then. Her first television appearance was as a character in the initial season of the series Crime Story with Dennis Farina, in the episode titled "The Survivor", broadcast on February 13, 1987. Her performance in the independent film Mystic Pizza in 1988 was her first critical success with moviegoers. During the same year, she had a role in the fourth season finale of Miami Vice. In 1989, she was featured in Steel Magnolias, as a young bride with diabetes, and received both her first Academy Award nomination (as Best Supporting Actress) and first Golden Globe Award win (Motion Picture Best Supporting Actress) for her performance.
It was through her 1990 star role alongside Richard Gere in Pretty Woman that Roberts became known to worldwide audiences. Roberts won the role after Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Karen Allen, and Daryl Hannah all turned it down. The role also earned her a second Oscar nomination, this time as Best Actress, and second Golden Globe Award win, as Motion Picture Best Actress (Musical or Comedy). The thriller, Sleeping with the Enemy was her next box office success when she played the role of a wife who escapes her abusive husband, played by Patrick Bergin, and begins a new life in Iowa. After playing Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991 and playing a nurse in the 1991 film, Dying Young, Roberts went through a two-year period, during which she only made one cameo appearance in Robert Altman's The Player in 1992.She played Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's Hook in 1991, and also played a nurse in the 1991 film, Dying Young.
Roberts co-starred with Denzel Washington in Alan Pakula's The Pelican Brief in 1993, which was based on John Grisham's 1992 novel of the same name. In 1996, she appeared in the thirteenth episode of season 2 of Friends, which was called, "The One After the Superbowl."
After co-starring with Liam Neeson in the 1996 film Michael Collins, Roberts went on to star in Stephen Frears' Mary Reilly in 1996 and My Best Friend's Wedding in 1997. In 1998, she demonstrated her ability to change emotions when she appeared appeared on Sesame Street opposite the character Elmo. She went on to star in the film Stepmom in 1998, alongside Susan Sarandon, Notting Hill in 1999, with Hugh Grant, and in Runaway Bride in 1999, which was her second film with Richard Gere. Roberts earned a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her guest role on the Law & Order television series episode "Empire" with series regular Benjamin Bratt.. In 2000, she played the lead role of real-life environmental activist Erin Brockovich in the film Erin Brockovich.
In December 2000, Roberts, who had been the highest paid actress through the 1990s, became the first actress to make The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 50 most influential women in show business since the list had begun in 1992.
In 2001, Roberts received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Erin Brockovich. Roberts then was then in the romantic comedy America's Sweethearts along with Billy Crystal, John Cusack, andCatherine Zeta-Jones. Later in 2001 she starred in Gore Verbinski's road gangster comedy, The Mexican. In fall 2001, Roberts teamed with Erin Brockovich director Steven Soderbergh for Ocean's Eleven (2001), a comedy-crime caper film and remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name, featuring an ensemble cast also including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon.
In 2003, Roberts was cast in Mike Newell's drama film Mona Lisa Smile, also starring Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Julia Stiles. Roberts received a record US$25 million for her portrayal of a forward-thinking art history professor at Wellesley College in 1953 – the highest ever earned by an actress until then. The film garnered largely lukewarm reviews by critics, who found it "predictable and safe".
Roberts replaced Cate Blanchett in 2004 in Mike Nichols's Closer, a romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. The film also starred Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen. Also in 2004, the actress reprised the role of Tess Ocean in the sequel Ocean's Twelve. In 2005, she was featured in the music video for the single "Dreamgirl" by the Dave Matthews Band; it was her first music video appearance.
Roberts appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 10 highest-paid actresses every year from 2002 (when the magazine began compiling its list) to 2005.
In 2006, Roberts voiced characters in The Ant Bully and Charlotte's Web. Her next film was Charlie Wilson's War (2007), with Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, directed by Mike Nichols; it was released on December 21, 2007.
Making her Broadway debut on April 19, 2006, Roberts played Nan in a revival of Richard Greenberg's 1997 play Three Days of Rain opposite Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd. However, she received much criticism for her role.
In 2009, Lancôme announced that Roberts would become their global ambassador for their company.
Roberts starred with Clive Owen in the comedy-thriller Duplicity for which she received her seventh Golden Globe nomination. In 2010, she appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy Valentine's Day, with Cooper, and starred in the film adaptation of Eat Pray Love. Eat Pray Love had the highest debut at the box office for Roberts in a top-billed role since America's Sweethearts. Later in the year, she signed a five-year extension with Lancôme for GB£32 million (US$50 million). In 2011, she co-starred as Mercedes Tainot in the romantic comedyLarry Crowne opposite Tom Hanks, who directed and played the title role. The movie received generally bad reviews with only 35% of the 175 Rotten Tomatoes reviews giving it high ratings, although Roberts's comedic performance was praised. Roberts appeared in the 2012 Tarsem Singh adaptation of Snow White, titled Mirror Mirror, playing Queen Clementianna, Snow White's evil stepmother.
In 2013, Roberts appeared in August: Osage County, playing one of Meryl Streep's character's three daughters. Her performance earned her nominations for the Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, amongst other accolades. It was her fourth Academy Award nomination.
In 2014, Roberts narrated "Women in Hollywood", an episode of season 2 of Makers: Women Who Make America. Roberts appears in Givenchy's spring/summer 2015 campaign. In 2016 she starred in the Film, Mother's Day.
Roberts runs the production company Red Om Films with her sister, Lisa Roberts Gillan, and Marisa Yeres Gill. Through Red Om, Roberts served as an executive producer of the first four films of the American Girl film series, which were based on the American Girl line of dolls, released between 2004 and 2008.