Julia Roberts opens up for the first time since the death of her half sister, Nancy Motes, in a new interview published Monday, April 21. The Oscar winner tells WSJ. Magazine how the family is grappling with Motes’ February suicide at age 37.
“It’s hour by hour some days, but you just keep looking ahead,” Roberts, 46, tells WSJ. “You don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone, but there are so many tragic, painful, inexplicable things in the world.”
Roberts’ half-sister Motes was found dead on Feb. 9, of an apparent drug overdose in L.A. Later, a suicide note was discovered at the scene, along with prescription and nonprescription drugs. Nancy’s relationship with America’s sweetheart appeared to be tense leading up to her death. In October 2013, Motes tweeted a cryptic message stating that she couldn’t wait to “belong to another family.” Refuting speculation over the tweet, Motes’ fiance John Dilbeck released a statement on Feb. 13, that said Nancy “loved her family.”
The Pretty Woman star — sister to actor Eric Roberts and aunt to Emma Roberts — adds in her new interview: “But [as with] any situation of challenge and despair, we must find a way, as a family.” The Georgia native adds of Motes’ death, “It’s so hard to formulate a sentence about it outside the weepy huddle of my family.”
In her next role, Roberts plays a doctor in upcoming HBO film, The Normal Heart, who treats patients affected by HIV and AIDS in the early 1980s at the terrifying beginning of the global epidemic. Normal Heart director Ryan Murphy tells WSJ that working with the acclaimed actress was daunting before he got to know her. “My first couple of days I was terrified,” he says. “She is part of the royalty of Hollywood. But it was like butter. She was so easy and accommodating and egoless.”
On her superstardom, Roberts confesses, “I don’t consider myself a celebrity, [at least not] how it is fostered in our culture today.” Married to cameraman Danny Moder since 2002, she gushes about being so fortunate to enjoy motherhood and a successful career. “By the time we had kids, I had accomplished things and felt secure about that part of my life. I was so joyful moving into the family phase of my life in a sincere way,” Roberts says.
“We’re just grateful for the sense we have of being like any other family down the street,” she adds. “I don’t question it.”
The latest issue of WSJ. Magazine hits newsstands Saturday, May 3.