Cinema

‘I still have plenty to deliver'

AESTHETICS AND INSTINCT: Julia Roberts in 'Eat Pray Love'. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: mail pic

“My opting for Hinduism is not a religious gimmick,” says Julia Roberts with her usual self-confidence. In London recently, the gorgeous actor spoke about her recent “Eat, Pray, Love” and its success during a telephonic interview. “It is similar to Patsy of Razor's Edge by Somerset Maugham. We share a common aspect of finding peace and tranquillity of mind in Hinduism, one of the oldest and respected religions of civilisation”.

The Pretty Woman, as she is popularly known, has had enough of success, wealth, adulation as well as worldly pleasures. She has reached a saturation point as far as materialism is concerned and is now in quest of spirituality. “No, I have no intention of demeaning any other religion simply because of my fondness for Hinduism. I don't believe in comparing religions or human beings. A comparison is a very mean thing to do. I have received real spiritual satisfaction through Hinduism,” she admits.

Her latest film, “Eat Pray and Love” directed by Ryan Murphy, saw her stay in North India for a few days while shooting. Based on the famous novel of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Roberts has performed the character of the author in the film with true conviction. How does she assess her acting abilities? There is a hint of a smile in her reply. “I combine aesthetics with instinct and some amount of intelligence so that none of my performances go overboard. I believe in simply behaving; neither underplaying nor overacting. In this aspect you may say, I follow Ingrid Bergman and Sophia Loren.”

The Oscar winner

“Pretty Woman”, “Sleeping with the Enemy”, “Runaway Bride” and “The Pelican Brief” are all ample testimony of her versatility. But, she says, “My most memorable performance was ‘Erin Brockovich', which fetched me an Oscar. Erin was an idealist who stands up to protest and fight against pollution and ultimately wins. After reading the script, I felt I had Erin Brockovich in me and, if I could not do justice to her, I should not act.”

Does she feel that she has been more a sex symbol and her histrionic abilities have been undervalued? She is quick to deny this. “Then you should also say that Sophia Loren was exploited. As an actor, all my assets — mental, physical and histrionic — need to be exploited to the hilt. Of course, I will never allow vulgar use of my body in any film.”

She sighs when her favourite actor, Paul Newman, is mentioned. “He was my heartthrob, an actor par excellence. He could convey so much, so convincingly through his eyes. Amazing! I will never forget ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof', ‘Towering Inferno', ‘The Verdict' and ‘Color of Money'.” Her other favourites include Gregory Peck, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino with whom she is very keen to work.

What about direction? Would she take try it? “Not at this stage in my career. I still have plenty to deliver as an actor. The present scene in Hollywood has changed compared to the 1980s and the 1990s; seldom are scripts with strong backgrounds and characters available. I want to concentrate on my family and my performances for now.”

Favourite stars

Her current favourite actors include Meryl Streep, whom she considers the best from the last three decades; Susan Sarandon, Brad Pitt, Leonardo D' Caprio and Angelina Jolie, whom she feels has volumes of untapped potential.

Why are classics like “Gone with the Wind”, “Matahari” and “For Whom the Bells Toll” not made any more? She sighs again. “That golden era exists no more. I must confess there are no stalwarts like Billy Wilder or Sir David Lean who can create classics. The trend now is more towards populist cinema with some rare exceptions. I would love to perform roles like Greta Garbo's in ‘Matahari' and Sophia Loren's in ‘Two Women', if any director thinks of remaking them.”

Sir Richard Attenborough once said after watching “Erin Brockovich” that he wanted to recreate the musical magic of Dalia Lave's, “My World Can Be Yours If You Want It” by picturising it on Julia Roberts if he ever got a chance to direct her. Julia seems pleasantly surprised. “My God! I never knew Sir Richard Attenborough wanted to picturise the immortal number on me. It would have been a true challenge for me to react to such a haunting melody.”


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 1:07:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/lsquoI-still-have-plenty-to-deliver/article15685536.ece

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