Top 10 Julia Roberts Performances

Top 10 Julia Roberts Performances

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
Script by Q.V. Hough

Julia, Sweet Julia. Join MsMojo, as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Julia Roberts Performances.

For this list, we're taking a look at those film performances that show off this actress at her finest and/or most memorable.

Special thanks to our users Mattyhull1 and Akilah Gordon for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at

Top 10 Julia Roberts Performances

Julia, Sweet Julia. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Julia Roberts Performances.

For this list, we’re taking a look at those film performances that show off this actress at her finest and/or most memorable.

#10: Daisy Arujo
“Mystic Pizza” (1988)

In only her third credited role, Roberts played the Portuguese-American Daisy Arujo: big hair, a big personality and one of the waitresses at “Mystic Pizza.” But compared to her more bookish sister Kat - a woman with a clear set of goals – Daisy lives by her own set of rules. Incidentally, it takes a strong performer to properly communicate all of the character’s eccentricities, and Julia manages to fully immerse herself, so much so that she landed an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Lead Female. Today, the film’s an ‘80s classic, largely in part to the natural charisma of Roberts as Ms. Daisy.

#9: Isabel Kelly
“Stepmom” (1998)

Shortly before Chris Columbus directed the first three “Harry Potter” films, he paired up two icons of cinema for an all too familiar concept: the stepmom. With Julia in the titular role, she beautifully demonstrates the difficulty of balancing a successful career with a new, and even more important, job as the children’s new caretaker. Of course, there’s plenty of work to be done, and through Isabel Kelly’s careful interactions with each family member, the essence of her character is revealed – all thanks to the multifaceted talent of Julia Roberts.

#8: Darby Shaw
“The Pelican Brief” (1993)

At first glance, Darby Shaw looks just like the pretty girl next door, but in this political thriller also starring Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts offers a bit more substance than you’d expect. First of all, when Darby details her theories on why a couple Supreme Court justices were taken out of the equation, things get “explosive.” And so, Julia combines a mixture of elegant charm and stern charisma to fully embody the complex law student. For most adaptations of John Grisham novels, the actors play a supporting role to the drama itself, but in this case, Julia stole the show.

#7: Laura Williams Burney / Sara Waters
“Sleeping with the Enemy” (1991)

With all her natural beauty and that endearing smile, Julia fits naturally into any dramedy, but every once in a while, she takes on a darker role that demands a bit more. In this disturbing thriller, Julia taps into the psychological turmoil of an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, her character flees Cape Cod for Cedar Falls, only to discover that her obsessive ex just can’t let go. Such a role allows Julia to showcase her sensuality as a woman, but also convey the different ways that women must handle a persistent male gaze… aka creepers.

#6: Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Gilbert
“Eat Pray Love” (2010)

When Yoda speaks, one does not simply continue on with the same routines. In the film adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling novel, Julia accomplishes the life trifecta that seems so distant at times for women… unless one decides to just make it happen. And with such a film like “Eat Pray Love”, Julia touches on her own life experiences as a successful woman to truly show what it means to live. Each scene thrives due to the pure exuberance of the subject, as her character goes all in by embracing the challenges that come with age.

#5: Shelby Eatenton Latcherie
“Steel Magnolias” (1989)

Building on the buzz that came from her “Mystic Pizza” performance, Julia adopts a southern accent to play an integral role in one of cinema’s biggest tearjerkers. As Shelby Eatenton Latcherie, she is tasked with holding her own among a cast of notable female actresses, and well, she’s THE definition of “Steel Magnolias.” Burdened with diabetes but still intent on starting a family, Shelby doesn’t run away from her difficulties, but sadly, and we do mean sadly, life takes a troublesome turn.

#4: Julianne Potter
“My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997)

Platonic relationships? Hmm. Is there such a thing? Well, in this late ‘90s comedy, Julianne Potter is far removed from the Chicago lifestyle of her college pal Michael. But when he’s about to get hitched with a much younger gal, an old pact takes over the mind of the motivated food critic. The concept itself is somewhat cliché, but the movie flips the script by having Julia on the prowl – not the other way around. As a result, she wears her heart on her sleeve while trying desperately to maintain niceties with the immature yet lovable Kimmy, played by Cameron Diaz. With this role, Julia IS every woman.

#3: Anna Scott
“Notting Hill” (1999)

She’s the most famous movie star in the world, playing… the most famous star in the world. Starring alongside the always-charming Hugh Grant – almost too charming at times – Julia serves up a meta performance to showcase the intricacies that come with being a star in search of love. Yeah, there’s plenty of seriously cheesy dialogue, as the bumbling travel enthusiast finds love with a legit A-lister, but hey, that’s why people go to the movies. To be moved. And through the composed yet humanistic persona Julia gives Anna, she provides the best of both worlds. She’s both a celebrity and just a girl looking for love.

#2: Vivian Ward
“Pretty Woman” (1990)

Well, this is what they call a “star-making role.” And thanks to one singular performance alone, “Pretty Woman” is arguably the most popular romantic comedy ever made. Though Julia Roberts was already on her way up, her shared charisma with Richard Gere is never lost on viewers, as the lady of the night and her corporate client set forth to find something within each other. At the time, Julia was almost too sweet to pull off such a role, but given the subtext of Garry Marshall’s direction and the emotive bravado of both leads, hey - it worked out, huh?

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Tess Ocean
“Ocean’s Eleven” (2001)

Barbara Weston-Fordham
“August: Osage County” (2013)

Anna Cameron
“Closer” (2004)

Grace King Bichon
“Something to Talk About” (1995)

Magaret ‘Maggie’ Carpenter
“Runaway Bride” (1999)

Joanne Herring
“Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007)

#1: “Erin Brockovich” (2000)

Money. Power. Respect. The keys to life? Well, not necessarily for the real-life subject of this landmark Julia Roberts role - although Erin Brockovich did manage to achieve all of those things. Examining the trials and tribulations of the titular lead’s battle against a major energy corporation, the biographical film sees Julia encapsulating the magic of several iconic roles to provide her definitive performance. She’s sexy and boasts a commanding presence, yet Julia simultaneously touches on the business badassery that kept Erin Brockovich focused and locked in. Julia could have easily gone a bit too far with this one here, but she ultimately sold everybody… even the Academy.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite Julia Roberts performance? For more spectacular Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.