Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh is worried about Julia Roberts. Concerned about her celebrity status, her ability to open a film, and the dying age of old school celebrities, Setoodeh asks, "Is Julia Roberts Box-Office Reign Over?"
Roberts, Setoodeh argues, is the quintessential old school movie star; she is fiercely private, rarely shows up in the tabloids, and tries to keep her on-screen and off-screen personas as separate as possible. "In this age of TMZ, celebrity blogs and phone cameras in every restaurant, it's amazing how much we don't know about her," Setoodeh writes, "Does anyone remember what her husband, Danny Moder, looks like? Even her children are virtually anonymous, which is quite a feat in our Shiloh- and Suri-crazed world."
But said movie stars are a "dying breed," Setoodeh notes. In an age where everyone can be a celebrity, "real" celebrities just don't pull as much weight. Still, the fact that Roberts may not be able to be a box-office draw after 20+ years in Hollywood isn't really a sign that Roberts doesn't have as many fans as she used to as much as it's a sign that her bread-and-butter, romantic comedies, are seriously in the toilet right now, from both a creative and box-office standpoint.
Another issue that Roberts, unlike her aging male co-stars, faces is the curse of being "America's Sweetheart." In her most popular movies, she plays, essentially, the same character: a sassy red-head with a big smile and a heart of gold who overcomes some random obstacle to find happiness. She's the prototype for the Isla Fishers of the world, who are now taking on roles Roberts might have taken 15-20 years ago. People don't necessarily want to see her in a serious role; fellow former Sweetheart Meg Ryan has seen her box-office pull tank as she attempted to shed her cutesy image and move into more challenging fare.
But unlike her peers, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, her latest co-star Clive Owen, and so on, Roberts has to deal with the typical Hollywood BS in regards to how women in the industry are treated. Setoodeh illustrates this by referencing a line from Notting Hill, wherein Roberts' character says: ""One day, not long from now, my looks will go, they will discover I can't act and I will become some sad middle-aged woman who looks a bit like someone who was famous for a while."
Yet I think Setoodeh might be overreacting a bit. Is Julia Roberts' career over? No. Perhaps she won't be the box-office pull she was back in the day (but either is Jim Carrey, the first man to be paid 20 million dollars per film) but as movie stars fade out to make way for reality stars and wannabes, a little old school charm will be welcomed by those who seek it out. Roberts will always have her fans, and even if the ticket sales don't show it, she'll always be a movie star to most of us. Or at least those of us whose colors are "blush" and "bashful."
Is Julia Roberts' Box-Office Reign Over? [Newsweek]