It was a springtime Thursday, 24 hours before our cover shoot, and I was in Malibu for one reason: to have a leisurely lunch with Julia Roberts and interview her for our June issue. Her son, as it turned out, had been battling the tail end of strep throat, so she got in touch to say she would be running late. When she did arrive, we took one look at each other and laughed, realizing that we were in practically the same outfit. (Yes, she wore it best. See below.) Our lunch turned to predinner salads (she ordered a caprese) and glasses of rosé as the sun set on our booth, which punctuated a long row of empty tables—the shabby chic restaurant affording us a quiet retreat. Before I even engaged the tapeless tape recorder, we would talk about kids (hers, my plans to have some), husbands (regards, loving updates), and books (we both were obsessed with Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng). With the conversation started, the interview could then begin …
Ariel Foxman: Let’s talk about Money Monster (in theaters May 13). What is it like to be directed by Jodie [Foster]?
Julia Roberts: Well, in my mind, she’s so scary, but really she’s so sweet.
AF: Scary because …?
JR: Because she’s Jodie Foster. Because she’s so talented, notoriously brilliant. And she’s such a great actor. And really, she is very no-nonsense. She doesn’t think that there has to be some incredible, painful struggle to accomplish your goals. I thought she was crazy to be helming me and George [Clooney]—it’s like trying to keep puppies in a box.
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AF: You’re not on social media. Do you ever feel under pressure, that this is something the longer you disengage from it, the clock is ticking, eventually you’ll have to engage in some way, or no?
JR: I think it’s like—what’s a good analogy? Listen, I don’t have my head in the sand. I’m aware of the different outlets, however you label them. It’s like people talking about a TV show: I can be perfectly aware of the TV show and the story, but it doesn’t mean I watch it. I have other friends who watch it, and they tell me about it. I mean, we were talking about Instagram. Everyone has Instagram on their phone. And I just, yeah, [if I had it] I would be looking at it all the time.
AF: As your children are getting older, how are you able to carve out time to really be together? Is that hard to do?
JR: It’s about allowing time to just exist. Conversations require a complete disregard for the clock—so that you can just listen and really be present. It becomes a paradox of efficiency and presence. That’s why I love the summer. I just don’t care what time it is.
AF: I read an interview where you were describing your mother, how she was this incredibly industrious, busy person inside and outside the home. Has that been a model for your style of parenting?
JR: One of the greatest things she ever did for me … I remember asking her—when I had three kids under 3 years old and just felt like I was running in a thousand directions at once—“How on earth did you raise all of us? You worked full-time, and you did all these things.” She could have said, “Well, you know, you just do your best.” But she said, “Darling, it’s called day care. I dropped you and your sisters off at 7:30 in the morning, and I would pick you up at 4 in the afternoon.” But it didn’t feel like that to me. I didn’t feel like I was a dropped-off person who didn’t see her mom all day. I just felt completely part of her life, and she was part of mine. And that’s the magic trick: to make people feel that they’re with you when they’re not.
For more from Roberts—on everything from her kids’ sartorial sensibilities to the likelihood of a My Best Friend’s Wedding 2—pick up the June issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download May 13.