Julia Roberts' Eat Pray Love lessons

Aug 10, 2010 at 12:03 p.m. ET

Eat Pray Love allowed Julia Roberts to let herself go. Sorry to borrow the tagline of the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s literary pop culture phenomenon Eat Pray Love, but if there is a better phrase to describe life for Julia Roberts, we welcome the suggestion.

Julia Robert's place as one of "America's Sweethearts" is as secure as Fort Knox. In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts is taking a risk, not something in the job description of the world's biggest movie star. But, then again, Roberts hardly has followed that textbook path in her career choices. As varied as Closer is to Runaway Bride, so is Pretty Woman to Erin Brockovich.

Julia Roberts stars in Eat Pray Love

With Eat Pray Love, Roberts is becoming the face of one of the most beloved books of the last decade. Eat Pray Love captured Elizabeth Gilbert's wanderlust and captured the attention of the world. By portraying Gilbert, Julia Roberts was allowing herself to be judged by audiences in a way she has not done since Erin Brockovich.

Elizabeth Gilbert's personal journey is the stuff of literary legend. Julia Roberts sat down with SheKnows to talk about climbing a pop culture mountain and coming down even more personally satisfied than she was prior.

julia Roberts: From Bali, USA, Italy, India & back to Bali

SheKnows: Elizabeth Gilbert makes a lot of changes over the course of the book and the film. How do you relate to her journey, personally?

Julia Roberts: For me, it's not the urgent pursuit that she has experienced. But, I definitely knew that my life would continue to evolve until I found that place that I could fully occupy and live in -- which is the home that I have now. I relate to her search and her pursuit. But, it was definitely great to have a fulfilled sense of my own life. To play some of these scenes and come home to my family and to know it's all good, was perfect.

SheKnows: Was there a challenge working across locations or did you relish the rare opportunity to shoot Eat Pray Love in chronological order?

Julia Roberts: For me it was a great luxury to shoot it in chronological order. It was almost a necessity of emotional evolution. You can't start any movie in Bali and then leave [laughs]. I think it was important for us to create the steps that she took and to understand very clearly how she got from one point to the next and one place to the next, and how the relationships evolved and what she gleaned from each one.

Julia Roberts meets Elizabeth Gilbert

SheKnows: From Elizabeth's book, how did you decide to play her? Did you talk to her before diving in?

Julia Roberts goes for a ride in Bali in Eat Pray Love

Julia Roberts: I did meet her. I met her in Rome. I didn't want to meet her before that because I knew she and Ryan (Murphy, director) were in close communication. My first step was putting my complete and total trust in Ryan, which was one of the more smart things I've done for years. I knew that his paper interpretation of her journey was all the reference I needed. I was also worried about falling too in love with her, that I would try to be her instead of just interpreting her as an actor. That's why I didn't want to meet her until after we had done so much I couldn't change it. She came to Rome and she was a delight. You just want to give her a warm hug the second you lay eyes on her.

Up next…Julia Roberts tells us about Eat Pray Love's food, whether she really gained 10 pounds and which of Eat Pray Love's outfits currently sits in her closet.

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