Julia Roberts enters the Casa del Mar hotel ballroom with the confidence that comes from enjoying a solid movie career. On this particular day, the Pretty Woman star has made herself available to discuss her role as the sinister queen in Mirror Mirror, the re-imagining of the classic Snow White fantasy, directed by Tarsem Singh. The actress has a close relationship with Spain after receiving last year the Donosti Award in San Sebastian. Close friend of the actor Javier Bardem, with whom she worked in the past, Julia Roberts confesses that she doesn’t speak fluent Spanish but knows some words and reads many books of Spanish authors.
Q: What is your beauty secret if you have one?
JR: Just happiness, and the love of a good man. I think that keeps you (knocks on table-laughter) it really does.
Q: To take care of the kids, that’s a beauty secret.
JR: Well, that’s the exercise part, of the beauty and exercise part of life.
Q: Do you think your kids will like to see you as a bad Queen?
JR: Eventually I think so. They are a little young for that still, but I think there will be a day where they probably will think it’s quite amusing.
Q: What do you think about this hunt for everlasting beauty? Like not necessarily using bird poo, but in the real world, what people do to keep young?
JR: I know, it’s pretty incredible, I would think it’s exhausting really, but I guess some people have more time to spend on it than would be interesting to me.
Q: We don’t often see you in villain roles Julia, but you obviously had a great time and it was a pleasure to watch you. Had you been after a bad guy role in particular or was it just the script?
JR: No, it was just Tarsem, I’m just so crazy about that guy, there’s just no two ways about it, I just think he’s so remarkable and his point of view is so original and massive, I was really a big fan, I just really wanted to have lunch with him, I didn’t really care what we were going to talk about, and he spins his web, (laughs) and there’s no getting out of it.
Q: You didn’t feel a little lost with all the special effects and all the opulent sets?
JR: I didn’t feel lost, but it’s not so crazy special effect-y really, I mean, it was all kind of there for me, I mean I never felt like I was looking at tennis balls, or didn’t understand where I was, and even when we did the stuff in the cottage where I’m with myself as it were, we had worked it out so well and my sister actually who is an actor, had come to read the other side for me, so I at least had this comfort of a voice that made sense to me, as me, as we kind of went back and forth, so that was really as confusing as it got in that realm, but otherwise it all seemed like it was right before us.
Q: With the fairytales, I’m looking at the old Grimm books, I have a daughter now and I wouldn’t read that to her.
JR: Parental editing. That’s what I call it, you kind of start and then you get through part of it and then make some stuff up, and make some stuff nicer and then you say, The End. That was a short one! (laughter)
Q: Sometimes, even like Dr Seuss’ The Lorax, there are things that are pretty dark.
JR: Well Rapunzel, the fairytale of Rapunzel, is so savage and the Prince falls out of the tower, and his eyes get gouged out, and then he’s bleeding and then he can’t find her anymore, and he wanders through the deserts and the streets looking for her but of course he’s blind now and I read that story to my kids one night and it was very (xxxx-laughter) very well.
Q: Did you ever read any Spanish author?
JR: Yes, of course. I read the books of Carlos Ruiz Zafón and Hundred Years of Solitude. But I didn’t read them in Spanish (laughter)
Q: Do you speak any Spanish at all?
JR: I know some words nothing mayor. I wish I could tell you that I do speak Spanish. I know “Por favor” y “Gracias”
Q: What do you do to make the planet greener now?
JR: Just try to limit our impact obviously as a family of five, we can produce a lot of waste, and so we compost and we have chickens, so that takes care of most of our food waste, we don’t use any superfluous paper products in our house, no paper towels or anything like that, they don’t use Ziploc bags for lunches, in fact, our school has a waste free lunch policy, so everything has to be reusable, all the containers, and stuff like that. We have solar shingles on our roof, I drive a bio diesel and a Prius…
Q: In Mexico on your ranch?
JR: Here in California.
Q: Do you still grow your own vegetables?
JR: We have a lettuce garden because I don’t like to buy lettuce in a plastic box, it just makes me have a pain in my stomach, I just feel bad, that box is so big and so we grow a lot of lettuce and kale and carrots, that’s all we have in our garden right now. And we get our fish and our meat and our fruits from local farmers that co-op that get every week.
Q: Now you sit here all dressed in white, I would imagine with three kids, I would not be able to do that. How do you juggle that balance being like the mommy, at work, and the private life?
JR: Well a few years ago, we would have had dried avocado all over me (laughter) but I think we’ve all gotten past that, that stage where you can wear white again. (laughs)
Q: I saw a beautiful movie with you and Ryan Gossling, and it’s a small movie, a story about family, very beautiful, it was released one month ago. Do you think in the future, you will have the desire to produce a small movie, a particular movie, or not?
JR: Well we just produced a movie, I think it’s going to come out actually in April, with Toni Collette and Michael Sheen, called Jesus Henry Christ, and it was at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and it’s the same director as Fireflies in the Garden. Yeah, it’s a nice movie. They did a great job.
Q: Is it hard to get excited about new projects Julia after a career of about 20 years?
JR: It’s not, I feel like if I have the privilege to be part of something and I’m going to take time away from my life which I’m enjoying, it’s got to be something that I’m going to be pretty excited about, and I like my job, I’m happy at work, it’s fun and pretty extraordinary, so I try to appreciate all that time that I’m there, make the most of it.
Q: And do you prefer to play a Pretty Woman or a bitchy woman?
JR: Well, they are not mutually exclusive, (laughter) but just whatever comes up that has some good stuff for me to do.
Q: Was it a tougher challenge to be a bad queen than to do like your last films?
JR: You know, everything has it’s challenges, being funny, being nice, being mean, it all kind of on the day, when you are trying to do it the best that you can do it, and it will last forever, it’s going to have a challenge with it.
Q: Where did you find your inspiration for this wicked role? Is it somebody you got your inspiration from, or it was all on paper?
JR: George Clooney. (laughter) It was all on the paper. (laughter)
Q: Do you remember the amount of your first paycheck and how did you spend it?
JR: I’m sure it was a very small amount, like the first paycheck ever? It’s a smaller amount now. (laughter) I think I spent it on myself, I was a teenager and I think I had gotten a job so that I could buy things that were not important for my mom to be supplying. Struggling to kind of keep everybody fed and with the appropriate amount of everything that they needed, it was, oh, but I have to have this coat, and that was back in the days of a layaway plan, where you could, every time you got some money, take it to the store, and then pay it off.
Q: How often do you look into the mirror?
JR: When I brush my teeth in the morning, I’m looking at myself. I just don’t put a huge investment in it, I mean, anybody with kids knows that it’s, come wipe me, where are my shoes? There’s just not a lot of time.
Q: Would you like to go back to the theater?
JR: I would love to do that. I would love to do that.
Q: And a lot of social networking as well, where people are interconnecting and they think they know about you, are you part of that Twitter universe?
JR: I have never had Twitter…I’ve never seen Facebook. I saw The Social Network, but I’ve never seen Facebook.
Q: You do have the internet at the house I presume.
I do, I have email and I know how to text.
Q: Any desire to direct or write yourself?
JR: Zero. (laughs) I’ll leave it to her. The young have energy and time. I’ve never had any desire to do that really, it’s just a different thing, so many people coming at you, and looking at you for answers to a whole lot of questions, I just like my one little section.