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Julia Roberts’ Best Rom-Com Roles, Ranked!

As the queen of the genre returns (with George Clooney!) in ‘Ticket to Paradise,’ we get out our hankies for this must-watch list

spinner image Actress Julia Roberts at the 75th annual Cannes film festival
Laurent Koffel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

During the 1990s rom-com boom, Julia Roberts became one of its preeminent leading ladies, with a string of smash hits from Pretty Woman to My Best Friend’s Wedding and Notting Hill. After a hiatus from the genre — she says she hadn’t come across any scripts that captured those previous films’ levels of “madcap fun”— she’s making a triumphant return Oct. 21, opposite George Clooney in Ticket to Paradise. The longtime friends play a divorced couple forced to reunite in Bali as they plot to stop their daughter’s wedding. In honor of this rom-com queen returning to the fold, we’ve rounded up (and ranked!) Roberts’ top 10 rom-com roles.

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10. America’s Sweethearts (2001)

The love interest: John Cusack

The plot: It might seem meta that an actress often called “America’s Sweetheart” would play a romantic lead in a movie called America’s Sweethearts about, well, actors. However, Roberts takes the role of the less-than-glamorous Kiki, a sister-slash-personal assistant to an actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who’s recently broken up with her husband and costar, Eddie (Cusack). While serving as a go-between for her sister and Eddie, Kiki begins developing a connection of her own with her sister’s ex.

Watch it: America’s Sweethearts on Apple TV,  Prime Video

9. Larry Crowne (2011)

The love interest: Tom Hanks  

The plot: Roberts plays a community college speech professor, Mercedes Tainot, feeling uninspired by her work and her marriage. That is, until she meets Larry Crowne (Hanks), a recently laid-off big-box store employee who enrolls in an attempt to improve his life. Of course, the two forge a friendship that begins to develop into something more. (Hanks also directs, and cowrote the script.)

Watch it: Larry Crowne on HBO Max

Don’t miss this: Tom Hanks’ 10 Most Heartwarming Roles, Rated!

spinner image Dennis Quaid and Julia Roberts dancing in the film Something to Talk About
Dennis Quaid (left) and Julia Roberts in "Something to Talk About."
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

8. Something to Talk About (1995)

The love interest: Dennis Quaid

The plot: Roberts taps into her Southern roots as Grace, the manager of a riding stable who, after discovering her husband (Quaid) is cheating on her, moves in with her sister (Kyra Sedgwick). While Grace’s parents try to convince her to get back together with her husband, her sister helps her start thinking outside the constraints of her daily life.

Behind the scenes: Sedgwick asked Roberts to help get her to squeal in one scene, and when it came time to film it, Roberts pranked Sedgwick.

Watch it: Something to Talk About on Apple TV

spinner image Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte looking at each other in the film I Love Trouble
Julia Roberts (left) and Nick Nolte in "I Love Trouble."
Touchstone Pictures/Getty Images

7. I Love Trouble (1994)

The love interest: Nick Nolte  

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The plot: In this film, written and produced by Nancy Meyers and her husband, Charles Shyer, Roberts plays an ambitious young reporter in Chicago who meets an older journalist (Nolte) at the site of a train derailment they’re both covering. While at first they can’t stand each other, when they realize they both suspect a government conspiracy behind the crash, they decide to team up to break the story, and their partnership evolves … of course … into a romance.

Watch it: I Love Trouble on Apple TV, Prime Video

6. Duplicity (2009)

The love interest: Clive Owen

The plot: Roberts and Owen play off one another in this spy caper as two former government operatives (and lovers) who now work as corporate spies for rival companies. Both are tasked with obtaining the formula for a product each of their companies wants to patent, and, along the way, they become wrapped up in a passionate love affair. But how close can they really get without compromising their missions? 

Behind the scenes: Roberts and Owen, who had worked together five years previously in Closer, fuel their onscreen chemistry with a shared sense of humor that, Roberts said, went “almost to the point where [director Tony Gilroy] would get annoyed with us because we couldn’t get serious and play our serious selves in the movie.”

Watch it: Duplicity on Hulu

5. Runaway Bride (1999)

The love interest: Richard Gere 

The plot: Audiences were excited to see Roberts and Gere teamed up again nearly a decade after Pretty Woman for this quirky film. Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter, who has left multiple fiances at the altar. Gere comes into the picture as Ike Graham, a journalist assigned to write a story about the Runaway Bride as she prepares for her fourth wedding. As he spends time around Maggie and her family, he begins falling for her. 

Behind the scenes: Gere and Roberts wanted Garry Marshall, their Pretty Woman director, to sign onto the project, but he was supposed to take his wife on vacation to Australia. The pair spoke with Marshall’s wife to convince her to let him take the job.

Watch it: Runaway Bride on Disney+

4. Mystic Pizza (1988)

The love interest: Adam Storke 

The plot: This film gave Roberts her big break as Daisy, a teenage pizza waitress in the seaside Connecticut town of Mystic. The movie follows Daisy as she finds her way after high school, along with her sister (Annabeth Gish) and best friend (Lili Taylor).

Behind the scenes: Roberts was a 19-year-old working odd jobs in New York when she auditioned for the film. As the story goes, she decided to dye her hair from blond to black for a callback but used a cheap hair color mousse that came off on love interest Storke’s hands.

Watch it: Mystic Pizza on Prime Video

3. Pretty Woman (1990)

The love interest: Richard Gere

The plot: In one of her most iconic roles, Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood escort hired by wealthy businessman Edward (Gere). After spending the weekend together, the two discover an undeniable chemistry, and, despite their vastly different backgrounds, begin trying to find a way to build a future together.

Behind the scenes: The cast and crew pranked Roberts while shooting the scene where Vivian sings along to her Walkman in a bubble bath. When Vivian fully submerges herself under water before agreeing to stay with Edward for a week, Gere and the crew ran out of the room so when she came up, the set was totally empty.

Watch it: Pretty Woman on Apple TV

2. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

The love interest: Dermot Mulroney

The plot: Widely considered one of the top rom-coms of all time, this film stars Roberts and Mulroney as childhood best friends with a pact to marry one another if they’re still unmarried at age 28. When Michael (Mulroney) calls Julianne (Roberts) to tell her he’s going to marry a college student (Cameron Diaz) in four days, Julianne realizes her true feelings for Michael and begins scheming to break the couple up.

Behind the scenes: While filming the scene where Julianne and Michael dance on a boat in the Chicago River, fans calling out to Roberts from the bridges kept interrupting the shoot.

Watch it: My Best Friend’s Wedding on Peacock

1. Notting Hill (1999)

The love interest: Hugh Grant

The plot: At the height of her fame, Roberts plays Anna Scott, a celebrity-level American actress who develops an unexpected connection with a London bookshop owner (Grant). He feels the sparks, too, but soon discovers the challenges of dating someone that famous … and who happens to have a movie star boyfriend. This is the film where Roberts delivers one of the most well-known lines in rom-com history: “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

Behind the scenes: Roberts told Vanity Fair that, while she and her character Anna share many similarities in terms of career, personally she didn’t agree with many of Anna’s choices: “I had to really remove my own hubris, or judgment or whatever it is, in order to play her honestly.”

Watch it: Notting Hill on Peacock, Prime Video

Lauren Vespoli is a Brooklyn-based freelance culture writer and audio producer whose work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York Magazine and Vox.

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