Wisdom of the Woman
Images by Mario Sorrenti exclusively for Vanity Fair
You're looking at the pictures going “more Julia”? But it's not my fault that my wistfulness made her decide to come out of hiding and explain to young actresses why they have a cross to bear. Look at the Vanity Fair cover. She still makes you catch your breath, right? Maybe it's the hair. Unchanging...Samson-esque.
Even this morning, even with deadlines and planes to catch, Lainey and I talked again about how she was unlike any other. She came onto the scene and she already had this...gravitas. A calmness. She was a woman, already. A young one, and she freely admits that she made mistakes that the younger generation doesn't have opportunity to, but she was already sure of who she was in her own skin. Which - look at her. Maybe being born beautiful allows you to feel comfortable? Or you cultivate the expression, like the one she has in the final shot where she's lying on the couch. "This is stupid, but if you think it looks good, and you want to pay for me to lie here in my evening gown, well, you can get that if you want to."
Her point in the article's excerpt is that it's incredibly difficult to be that - a confident young adult performer - when there are people tweeting pictures of your every indiscretion and that (I extrapolate) if she were coming of age now she would also be dealing with a fashion line and releasing an album and no wonder there's so much stress, followed by rehab.
Even though I'm tired of us all, as a society, wondering what changed and then sighing 'internet', I'm glad she acknowledges it. That the rise she had, the way she was allowed to develop, is part of a bygone era now.
But a lot of people still don't like her. I think the criticisms levelled are that she's too...full of herself? That she knows it all, that she's Julia Roberts in every role, and, of course, that she's a bitch.
I liked this quote that I found attributed to her: "I'm tall and smart. If you're aggressive and energetic it can be intimidating for people who aren't very smart themselves."
This, to me, is the key. I think it's what makes her different and I think it's what informs her performances. You never hear any young actress talking about how smart they are. Can you imagine if Selena Gomez - who is almost 20, the age Roberts was when she was making her first key films that propelled her to superstardom, started talking about how her brain intimidates people?
Is that what it was, though? The reason I'm still so compelled by Roberts is there's still nobody like her, nobody who arrived, fully formed, and with no prior experience and just proceeded to be a captivating movie star. In the course of about a year. She's offering advice and empathy to all these young actors while saying, in the same breath, “you will never have my life”. Is that what makes her compelling?
Here's the truth: this cover is to promote Mirror Mirror, which is not exactly teeming with buzz. All the insight and smarts in the world are for naught if you can't choose good projects. And yet I can't think of anything I want to see more than what roles Julia Roberts chooses when she's 50. Right? Just me? Or do you not care?
Look at her leaning over the couch. That is a woman who has secrets, and is taking them to her key party. Ooh, why hasn't she done 70's career woman yet? I would love that.
Click here to read the Julia Roberts Vanity Fair excerpt.