Academy and Golden Globe-winning icon, Julia Roberts, lights up the big screen once again in Peter Hedges’ new family drama, ‘Ben Is Back’.
Known for her legendary roles across all genres of film, Julia Roberts shot to Hollywood fame after starring in the 1990 romantic comedy, Pretty Woman, and has continued to reign as A-List royalty for the past 30 years. Playing a mother who sacrifices everything to save her drug-addicted son (Lucas Hedges), Roberts sits down with MiNDFOOD to talk about personal struggles, traditions, and the intricacy of family.
Playing a mother with a son addicted to Opioids. What are your character’s strengths and weaknesses?
I think they’re ever changing. What is a strength becomes a weakness the next day. It was really important for me as an actor and to be reminded as a person that it’s not for us to judge what is being done properly or improperly or what is the strength or what is the weakness of the character.
Did you realise how challenging this role would be when you decided to take it on? It was really emotionally grueling to watch, let alone act in it.
I think it’s the challenge that makes you want to do it and of course I knew that was there. But like anything you don’t really know how hard it will be until it’s the middle of the night and it’s 23 degrees below zero and it’s just Lucas and I standing there staring at each other, wondering if we might die. And then you just think, ‘I never really thought of the physical challenge of prevailing in these dark, cold nights.’
How did you prepare?
I had made a real concentrated effort to get Lucas and Kathryn (Newton) who plays my daughter, into my house before we ever started filming so that we all had a really clear sense and a comfort with each other. I just respect and I adore them both so completely.
You’re a mother – don’t you think having a child with a drug problem is the worst nightmare a parent can have?
I don’t think about that. I think if you apply all the many nightmares that any parent could apply to life in this world; unfortunately, you’d lock the doors and never leave the house. Right? So you really have to concentrate on all the positive, optimistic things of the world and hope that that as a family it carries you through intact.
Do you still knit for your family?
I don’t just knit for my family; I knit for my friends as well, let us be clear. (laughs)
This movie highlights the Opioid crisis in America. Is that what you wanted people to take away from this film, to educate themselves?
I think it was Peter Hedges’ point when he wrote it which was from a very politically charged reaction. This drug crisis, particularly Opioid drugs, has gone on for such a long time and Peter humanises it with this family, to have each person in this family have a real specific point of view to teach us all about how a family works with this crisis inside of it.
How good are are you at juggling your children’s needs?
Perfect, I never fail, never falter. I’m the only one I hear. (laughs) You are the juggler as soon as you take into account any other person in the world other than yourself. We all do it whether it be your first roommate or your first boyfriend or girlfriend or when you get married and have kids it’s just the expansion of the juggler.
Do you think Pharma is responsible for a lot of these addictions?
I think 100% these big companies have absolutely been part responsible.
Was drug culture prevalent when you were growing up?
I was fortunate that I grew up in a very small town in a community where drugs were not part of the scene of high school and if they were I was not really aware of it. It was more people shotgunning beers in the parking lot of Domino’s Pizza, that was the environment where I grew up.
Have your children shown interest in the arts?
We have musical kids, particularly my daughter who has learned to play piano and is quite gifted, says her mother! (Laughs) Music is everything. It’s so great to have in the house, I love when she plays. Just to hear off in the distance it brings joy.
How does music help you as an actress?
It has changed over the course of my career how it helps and aids me. It does serve a great purpose particularly when you’re at work. To have a little bit of privacy and internal organisation of your thoughts and preparation, I do rely utterly on music.
Do you have the patience of episodic TV?
I do have patience. I’m not into binge watching. I like to have to wait.
What do you watch?
I mean Peaky Blinders, I thought that was so innovative. Big Little Lies was incredible. We just started watching the second season of Ozark which I think is a really unique show.
Are you good at keeping secrets?
From my husband I will not keep a secret. Whenever someone says, ‘I’m going to tell you something but you can’t tell anyone,’ I say, ‘Ok, I’m telling Danny, but ok.’ (laughs)