Julia Roberts: We Didn’t Fully ‘Appreciate’ the Romantic-Comedy Boom in the 1990s

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Julia Roberts is returning to the romantic-comedy genre for the first time in over 20 years with the upcoming “Ticket for Paradise,” and she hopes audiences will finally appreciate the hard work that goes into making feel-good cinema. Roberts dominated the genre in the 1990s with hits such as “Pretty Woman” (1990), “Notting Hill” (1999) and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997). The Oscar winner recently told The New York Times that she believes moviegoers didn’t appreciate the rom-com boom enough and all the hard work that went into it.

“I think we didn’t appreciate the bumper crop of romantic comedies that we had then,” Roberts said. “You don’t see all the effort and puppet strings because it’s fun and sweet and people are laughing and kissing and being mischievous.”

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Roberts said of rom-coms, “This is a genre that I love to participate in and watch, and I think they are hard to get right. There is a really simple math to it, but how do you make it special? How do you keep people interested when you can kind of predict what is coming?”

It takes skill to answer those questions successfully, and Roberts suggested that skill is often taken for granted given how sweet and lighthearted rom-coms can be. The last time Roberts headlined a romantic-comedy as a lead was 2001’s “American Sweethearts” (she had small roles in the ensemble rom-coms “Valentine’s Day” and “Mother’s Day,” plus turns in romance dramas like “Eat Pray Love” and romance crime movies such as “Duplicity”). Roberts revealed earlier this year that a lack of good scripts kept her away from the genre.

“People sometimes misconstrue the amount of time that’s gone by that I haven’t done a romantic comedy as my not wanting to do one,” Roberts said. “If I had read something that I thought was that ‘Notting Hill’ level of writing or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ level of madcap fun, I would do it. They didn’t exist until this movie [‘Ticket to Paradise’].”

When asked by if she stayed away from romantic comedies for 20 years because “there wasn’t a single good script, not one,” Roberts answered, “Yeah.”

“Ticket to Paradise” pairs Roberts opposite longtime friend and collaborator George Clooney. The two play a divorced couple who reunite in order to stop their daughter from getting married. Universal Pictures is opening the film in theaters Oct. 21.

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