STAR MUM: Julia Roberts tells London Mums to love a little more loudly because life is short

It doesn’t happen every day to be in the presence of one of the most iconic actresses of our generation. I can tell you that I felt properly star-struck when I recently met Julia Roberts at the London premiere and press conference for Wonder, a powerful movie about the importance of kindness and acceptance of diversity. In a room filled with 30 journalists from all over Europe fighting for her attention, I felt honoured to have managed to speak to her.  She has such an aura, something inexplicable that charms anybody who looks at her. Everybody was trying to trigger her famous smile one way or another, because that is undoubtedly irresistible. 

Julia Roberts was very keen to play the role of Auggie’s mother to spread the positive message among all parents and children around the world.  Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder by new author R.J. Palacio tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. 

Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade.  As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey unites them all and proves you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

I enjoyed both the novel and the film and I hope to contribute to spread the movie message that kindness is a choice by sharing this interview here.

Q: What advice would you give to parents with a special child in that way?

JR: I would say that there are hundreds of people with better advice for you than an actor from America.

All families are special and some that have this incredibly focused people in their family to take care of, I can’t image what that’s like. We’ve made our attempts and we have created this story about it, but all families really do make attempts to do the best they can with what they know and just love each other as deeply as they can every day. The one thing about the crippling of the world today that is the positive I see in it, is that you do understand sadly on a near daily basis how quick – quick as a wink – it can change. So just hold on a little tighter, love a little more loudly in your family because the days are short.

Q: In the film you and your onscreen husband, Owen Wilson, support Auggie in such a lovely way. How do you think the film will help provide the tools children need to face challenges like bullying?

JR: Bullying is such a complicated topic and, as a mother of 3 children myself, certainly one we talk about. This novel was a great conversation piece for that as a family. The one thing that I can truly hope and that I think is attainable is just for anyone who is feeling picked on or bullied to have a voice to some adult not to keep it to themselves. That is the first step towards solving it, understanding it and being able to heal and to move on from it.

Q: How was your relationship with the book before you were offered the role.

JR: I read about the book in the NYT and then bought it for my kids, but life is hectic and was put it on the shelf for a while. Then one day I found it there again and I read it in over a weekend to check whether it was appropriate for the age of my children. I loved it and on the following Monday I told my family we had a book we could read all together. That generated a lot of dinner conversations.  

I was so enthusiastic about this novel that I called my agent to see whether there was a film in the pipeline based on it and whether there was a possibility to get involved somehow. The rest is history.


The family book reading practice comes from my dad who used to read to us before bed every night. This is one of the great universal cuddle times. He read books that we were ready for but not necessarily ready as readers to take on. It was a special cosy time and a nice way to head into dreamland with the sound of your parents’ voice. My kids do say, though, ‘Mum, please just your normal voice, don’t do voices. Just read it.’ It’s really disappointing… (She giggles)


Q: When did you experience wonder in your life?

JR: Everyday it’s there for recognising wonder in my life. That’s how I like to approach life.

Q: There’s a great line from you in the film ‘What’s inside is where we’re going and what’s on our face is where we have been.’ What does it mean in your life and career?

JR: It’s true and sweet and wonderful. All your life experience shows on your face ultimately. For me it shows a happy life. I am a lucky person.

Julia Roberts as “Isabel” and Owen Wilson as “Nate” in WONDER.

Q: You play a cool parent in the film. Do your kids think you a cool parent in real life?

JR: I think I am a cool parent but I am not sure my kids would necessarily agree with that.

Q: You seem to stick to a one-film-per-year rule. How easy is to find the films you want to do and is it easy to say no to the others?

JR: It is easy to say no. It just falls into one-film-per-year rule but it’s not a mathematical equation that I am trying to stick to. But fortunately, I have found things here and there that hold my heart enough to want to participate in them. That’s my good fortune.


Q: How much does it influence your work choices the fact that you have children who could watch your movies?

JR: One finds that one’s children aren’t necessarily interested in one’s filmography because perhaps one’s children want to see Cars 3 (Julia was teasing Owen Wilson who voices Lighting MacQueen). But they want to see this because they loved the book. This is a sure thing.

Wonder is available on Digital Download, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD now, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK.


Related features:

Film review: Wonder starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson & Jacob Tremblay

Picture book of the week: We’re all Wonders by R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder

Julia Roberts is the cover interview in the latest issue of London Mums Magazine

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