Julia Roberts says we took '90s rom-coms for granted

Julia Roberts knows rom-coms, having starred in a string of successful ones in the '90s, from Pretty Woman (1990) to My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and Runaway Bride and Notting Hill (1999), and she has something to say about them.

"I think we didn't appreciate the bumper crop of romantic comedies that we had then," she told the New York Times for a story published Monday. "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."

Julia Roberts attends the
Julia Roberts attends the Ticket to Paradise premiere Sept. 7 in London. (Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Universal) (Getty Images for Universal)

She explained that her new rom-com, Ticket to Paradise, her return to the genre for the first time in 20 years, was different. The story of a divorced couple that travels to Bali together to stop their daughter's wedding — her friend George Clooney plays her ex — just fit.

"It was nice to read something that was age-appropriate, where the jokes made sense, and I appreciated and understood what these people were going through," the 54-year-old said. "That's what people want to see, your connection to a piece of work. They want to see the heart space that you have for it — not just, 'Oh, do something funny because we love that.'"

In 1997, Julia Roberts starred in
In 1997, Julia Roberts starred in My Best Friend's Wedding. (Photo: TriStar/courtesy Everett Collection) (©TriStar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

But don't get her wrong, romantic comedies are what she enjoys.

"This is a genre that I love to participate in and watch, and I think they are hard to get right," Roberts said. "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?"

Hugh Grant was Julia Roberts's leading man in
Hugh Grant was Julia Roberts's leading man in Notting Hill. (Photo: Everett Collection) (©MCA/Courtesy Everett Collection)

In April, the Oscar winner told the same newspaper that there had been a dearth of scripts for such fare for, well, years.

"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," she 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 that I just did that [Ticket to Paradise's] Ol Parker wrote and directed."

At the same time, Roberts noted that she had been hesitant to leave her family to film. She and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, have three teenagers.

The chance to do a good script with Clooney was too compelling to miss.

"It somehow only made sense with George, just based on our chemistry. We have a friendship that people are aware of, and we're going into it as this divorced couple," Roberts said. "Half of America probably thinks we are divorced, so we have that going for us."

Ticket to Paradise opens Oct. 21.