20. SHE'LL ALWAYS BE THE PRETTY WOMAN
America’s love affair with Julia Roberts began when she played Viv, the hooker with a heart of gold, in the 1990 blockbuster. “Boys, girls, old, young – they all love Julia,” said director Garry Marshall.
19. THAT UNRULY MANE
Roberts has tried a slew of dos, from a Tinkerbell pixie to tamed blonde locks, but her wild, auburn curls are her signature. “When her hair is red and long and curly,” Newsweek once wrote, “she’s at her most delicious.”
18. THAT INFECTIOUS LAUGH
When Richard Gere snapped the jewelry box on Roberts’s hand in Pretty Woman, “he was improvising,” screenwriter J.F. Lawton told EW, “and Julia didn’t know, so her laugh was real.”
17. SHE'S BANKABLE
In 1997, Roberts broke a rom-com record: My Best Friend’s Wedding (co-starring Cameron Diaz) earned $21.7 million in its opening weekend, topping Sleepless in Seattle‘s debut and ultimately making almost $300 million worldwide. In all, her romantic comedies have raked in more than $1 billion.
16. SHE'S A ROMANTIC
In Notting Hill, she played a movie star seeking the heart of ordinary guy Hugh Grant (sound familiar?). But it was her line “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” that inspired crushes everywhere to ‘fess up.
15. SHE RAISED THE BAR
Roberts was the first woman to break into the $20 million-a-movie club with 2000’s Erin Brockovich. “Nobody made Julia Roberts a star,” future $20 million-woman Reese Witherspoon told Premiere. “She busted her butt.”
14. THAT PUSHUP BRA
America’s Sweetheart transformed (with the help of a skimpy wardrobe!) for the title role of sassy, sexy single mother Erin Brockovich (opposite Albert Finney). “She’s at her absolute peak as an artist,” director Steven Soderbergh said of her work in the film.
13. SHE'S A WINNER
At 33, Roberts won a Best Actress Academy Award for Erin Brockovich. “I love the whole world,” she said at the podium. “I’m so happy. Thank you.”
12. SHE'S ONE OF THE GUYS
11. SHE'S GIVING
10. SHE'S AN ALL-TIME STUNNER
In 1991, Roberts – already the highest-paid actress in Hollywood at only 23 – landed on her first of a record four Most Beautiful PEOPLE covers.
9. SHE FINALLY FOUND HER MATCH
On the set of The Mexican in 2000, Roberts met her future husband, cameraman Danny Moder. “I was born to be the wife of this man,” she said after their 2002 nuptials.
8. SHE'S A ROLE MODEL
In the 2010 hit Valentine’s Day, Roberts shared the spotlight with her niece, Emma Roberts – daughter of Julia’s actor brother Eric. “I wish I could act as good as her,” the younger Roberts said, “but I just do my best.”
7. SHE CONQUERED BROADWAY
6. SHE'S DOWN TO EARTH
Despite being among the most bankable stars, it’s everyday life that Roberts revels in. “Usually the triumph of my day is everybody making it to the potty,” the mom of three once joked on the Today show.
5. THAT MEGAWATT SMILE
Moviegoers have dished out billions to see Roberts’s toothy grin. “You want to have it in every shot, because it’s so glorious,” said Notting Hill producer Duncan Kenworthy. “But you have to use it sparingly. It’s like a weapon.”
4. SHE'S THE STANDARD
3. SHE'S A MOM FIRST
After giving birth to twins Phinnaeus and Hazel in 2004 and son Henry in 2007, Roberts relishes in her best role yet: Mom! “My life at home gives me absolute joy,” she said.
2. HER PROJECTS ALWAYS DELIGHT
Twenty years after Pretty Woman, Roberts still has what it takes, as evidenced by some of her more recent, choice roles in films like Eat Pray Love, Mirror Mirror, August: Osage County and The Normal Heart.
1. SHE'S SELFLESS
On her 49th birthday, the actress didn’t want anything for herself — but wanted her fans to help support LGBTQ youth. At the GLSEN Respect Awards in L.A. the weekend prior, Roberts invited fans to donate $49 to the organization in honor of her age. “If you wake up next Friday and think, ‘What should I get Julia for her birthday?’ ” she said in a speech, “then donate to GLSEN.”