America's sweetheart Julia Roberts is back on the big screen this week in the mystery thriller Secrets in Their Eyes, out Nov. 20. In the film, Roberts plays Jess, an FBI investigator whose life is turned upside down when her daughter is found murdered. As a result, her life is ripped apart, as is her tightknit work group, which included partner Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and District Attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman). That is, until 13 years later, when a lead has the team thinking they can solve the case once and for all.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen such an action-packed turn for Roberts; and for her, it was a refreshing challenge. “I always saw my character first and foremost as a mother,” she told us for a feature in the November issue of InStyle magazine. “She represents someone whose family is the priority. It’s a very much a 'home is where the heart is' kind of story. That’s why I connected with her so quickly after reading the script. There was something intriguing and different about her, and yet something familiar that made me relate to her.”
While Roberts related to the motherly instincts of her character while filming, she was also pushed past her comfort zone, particularly when using the violent props that her kickass take-no-prisoners role required. “I had to use a gun a few times and I didn’t like it,” she said. “I do not like guns. I realized when I have a gun in my hand I am really unhappy.” She said she has learned that even if they are fake, the act of even holding one can take its toll. “It’s funny because the one time I felt like I didn’t have an inner tough girl was when I was in full uniform and had a gun. I don’t think I could ever do a Western film. It would be a disaster.”
—With reporting by Kahlana Barfield Brown