Why We Love Julia — Despite the Eat, Pray, Love Merch Machine

Sara Vilkomerson | August 13th, 2010

Julia Roberts

For the next week (at least) we’ll all be besieged by the Eat Pray Love promotional machine. Do not try to fight it: turn on your television and you’ll see the Moonlighting-esque hazy lighting of Italy and Julia Roberts eating spaghetti (or looking beatific in India or adorably riding a bicycle in Indonesia). Cruise by a newsstand and see Julia gazing seductively at you from a glossy magazine cover. And walk into a Fresh store to buy some face cream, and you can buy the limited edition fragrances — or candle votives! — of ‘Eat’, ‘Pray’, and ‘Love’ (warning: one of them, in our opinion, smells terrible! We’ll leave it up to you to decide which one).

The fact that the movie isn’t really getting the greatest of reviews almost doesn’t matter. Consider it an opportunity to spend a good two plus hours with one of the world’s only bona fide female Movie Stars. Sure, Angelina Jolie has that dangerous intrigue and animal grace that makes her impossible not to watch. And yes, we hate that poor Sandra Bullock has been publicly treated so badly, and we’ll happily watch Cameron Diaz frolic on the beach with Tom Cruise on a lazy afternoon. (Hey, where the heck is Reece Witherspoon these days anyway?)

But, really, is there anyone quite like Julia Roberts? Forget about the fact that this is a woman who has been an A-lister pretty much from the start of her career in 1987, before the Kristen Stewarts of the world were even born. (And yes, for anyone wondering we did indeed see and enjoy 1988’s Satisfaction and can quote from memory just about all of Mystic Pizza). Like the greatest of the great Hollywood stars, Julia Roberts has managed to rise above any of her various roles — she’s created a Julia Roberts Persona. It’s one of sass and wit and charm, with a lot of teeth and infectious grin that’s present in just about all her films: She’s the girl that can keep up with all the guys (see: Ocean’s 11, 12,13, Duplicity), the great romantic heroine you root for in spite of her flaws (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and – duh – Pretty Woman), and even in her bombs, cause sure she’s had those too (Mary Reilly, Michael Collins, and does anyone remember Mona Lisa Smile except devoted watchers of TBS?), it’s still pretty much a lot of fun to watch her work.

But here’s our confession: our favorite Julia Roberts performance? Every single time she is on Dave Letterman’s couch. You want to talk about chemistry? We could watch these two affectionately tease and flirt with each other forever! If you haven’t been converted to the Julia Roberts fan club after watching a Letterman appearance…well, you apparently are a lot stronger willed then we are.