film Julia Roberts Is Far From The American Sweetheart She Appears To Be  

Ann Casano
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Quick - who is the first actress you think of when you hear the phrase “America’s Sweetheart?” If you said the actress who starred in Pretty Woman, then you may be surprised to hear these dark Julia Roberts stories. The Georgia-born Academy Award winner with the million dollar smile may have captured the hearts of audiences around the world, but these true Julia Roberts stories may make you think twice about her seemingly squeaky-clean, nice girl image.

Roberts hit the big screen with a bang in 1988 in the sleeper comedy Mystic Pizza, and went on to appear in a few other films over the years before catapulting into the mainstream with her portrayal of a prostitute with a heart of gold in Garry Marshall’s 1990 smash romantic comedy Pretty Woman. Roberts was just 23 years old and could light up a room with her mega-smile, movie-star glamor, and sweet girl-next-door persona.

But it was not long before Julia Roberts's personal drama began to take over the tabloids. In Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook, a rumor emerged that Roberts was such a diva on the set while playing Tinker Bell that the crew began to refer to the actress as “Tinker-Hell.” Was Julia Roberts's romantic life to blame for her bad behavior? After all, she had just called off her marriage to Kiefer Sutherland mere days before their wedding in order to run away to Ireland with Jason Patric. 

The Erin Brockovich star has not had an easy life. There are reports that her stepfather was abusive, and much has been made in the press about her contentious relationship with her brother, fellow actor Eric Roberts. Read more about these ten dark Julia Roberts facts that suggest that one of modern cinema’s most beloved actresses may have more than a few skeletons in her closet.

Her Sister's Fiance Blames Julia For Tragic Suicide


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Photo: Universal Pictures

In 2014, Julia Roberts's half-sister, Nancy Motes, committed suicide by way of drug overdose. Motes left a 12-page suicide note that blamed her famous sister for driving her to lethal ends. Motes’s fiance, John Dilbeck, spoke about the sisters' tumultuous relationship during an exclusive interview. He explained: 

"The world knows Julia Roberts as America’s sweetheart, but the reality is far different... Nancy felt bullied by Julia her whole life. Julia tormented Nancy about her weight and called her a fat failure. Nancy spiraled into a pit of depression and took her own life... I found her dead in a cold bath. I put the blame for that firmly in the hands of her family. If Nancy hadn’t been Julia Roberts’s kid sister I believe she would still be alive."

Among many other claims, Dilbeck also alleged that his fiance's family had Nancy cremated and did not invite him to the funeral, even though Dilbeck and Nancy had been together for five years before he proposed.

Roberts Allegedly Responds Very Poorly To Criticism


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Photo: The Weinstein Company

During the 2009 premiere of Roberts's film Duplicity, writer and critic Roger Friedman accused the actress of being “rude, downright nasty, and dismissive.” He also said that Roberts snubbed him in front of other people, and cut in between him and director Tony Gilroy. Friedman called the Notting Hill star's behavior, “unexpected and chilling.”

When Friedman asked Roberts’s publicist, Marcy Engelman, what the problem was, she replied, “She knows you broke the embargo on her play and wrote bad things about her.” However, the major issue with Roberts's alleged behavior toward Friedman is that his review of her performance in the Broadway play, Three Days of Rain, in 2006 was actually rather positive.

Plus, Friedman wrote another review of the play after it opened that was equally as complimentary to Roberts’s performance, though Friedman points out that many other critics panned Roberts’s stage acting. Perhaps she was given the incorrect information and someone mistook Friedman for another critic?

Friedman concluded, “I wouldn't have thought that what I wrote about Roberts in her play could have justified the scene at last night’s party. It was not pretty, and it was meant to be devastating. Her associates said, 'This is what she was told.' And that’s even worse: to think that most people in Hollywood start many conversations with these words: 'I was told you wrote (blank).'"

Nick Nolte Says That Roberts Is Not A Nice Person And Everyone Knows That


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Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

Julia Roberts and her I Love Trouble (1994) co-star Nick Nolte reportedly hated each other so much that they couldn't even act together in the same scene. The on-set rumor was that they had to film their scenes separately and then use stand-ins in an effort to create on-screen chemistry. And Roberts did not keep her feelings about Nolte to herself. She told The New York Times that her co-star could be "charming and nice, [but] he's also completely disgusting."

Nolte's reply to Roberts's public dis possibly confirmed the hush-hush rumor that the Pretty Woman actress is not as congenial as her nice-girl persona. He retorted, "It's not nice to call someone 'disgusting.' But she's not a nice person. Everyone knows that."

Even 15 years after the forgettable romantic comedy left theaters, Roberts still hadn't forgotten about her public beef with Nolte. In 2009, the actress appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman and told an unpleasant story about a particular actor she had worked with in the past. Roberts then went into her best profanity-filled Nick Nolte impression for Letterman, "What the f*** is that? Did you not f***ing hear me? You don’t know what you’re talking about!"

The Crew On The Set Of Hook Nicknamed Roberts "Tinker-Hell"


The Crew On The Set Of Hook Ni... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Julia Roberts Is Far From The American Sweetheart She Appears To Be
Photo: TriStar Pictures

Though Steven Spielberg has not had a lot of missteps in his career, 1991's Hook failed to impress critics. One possible weak point may have been Roberts's mental condition during its production. Her role as Tinker Bell in the movie was not a huge part; however, it was an especially tumultuous time for the actress.

Roberts was in her early 20s in 1991, and she had just called off her engagement to Kiefer Sutherland, three days before their wedding. There were several rumors that the actress was a complete emotional wreck during production. In fact, when Spielberg was asked during an interview with 60 Minutes if he would ever work with Roberts again, he replied with a simple, "No." He also added, "It was not a great time for Julia and I to be working together."

Roberts's behavior was so prima donna-like that the Hook crew reportedly nicknamed her "Tinker-Hell." However, the most damning allegation from the set was that, because she appeared throughout most of the movie in her bare feet, Roberts required a personal assistant whose only job was to keep her feet clean.

However, there are two sides to every story and Roberts had her say about the negative press she received and Spielberg's remarks during a 1991 interview with Vanity Fair:

"Hand to God: not a thing I read about that was truthful, and it really hurt my feelings. Because not only did it make me sound mean, but it was a situation where people who knew the truth talked about it in a way that wasn’t untruthful... I saw that and my eyes popped out of my head. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defense... It was a hard lesson to learn."