Julia Roberts turned the AmfAR Gala in Los Angeles into an early 50th birthday celebration Friday night, with Tom Hanks, Kate Hudson, and more on hand at the glitzy fête held at Ron Burkle’s Green Acres Estate in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The Oscar winner was honored at the bash with AmfAR’s Award of Courage in recognition of her commitment to the fight against AIDS, amongst other humanitarian causes, and Victoria Justice, AmfAR Chairman of the Board Kenneth Cole, and more couldn’t help but sing her praises before heading inside.
“Julia is such an iconic woman,” Cole told InStyle. “We’re privileged to be able to put her up on a pedestal tonight and thank her publicly for all that she does.” Justice, who stunned in a beaded Pat Vo dress paired with an off-white Rebecca Minkoff fur jacket called Roberts “a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood,” adding, “I think she’s a strong, powerful woman. She’s not afraid to use her voice for causes that she believes in, and she’s Julia Roberts. She’s just amazing.”
As the event began, guests headed to their white rose-topped tables and sipped FIJI water, Veuve Clicquot champagne, and Cape Mentelle wine, as they noshed on braised beef short ribs with cornbread pudding. Kate Hudson, who dazzled in a metallic-printed, black-and-white David Koma dress, mingled with her mom Goldie Hawn and Melanie Griffith.
Host James Corden soon hit the stage to kick off the event, telling the crowd, “What better way to spend Friday the 13th, the unluckiest day of the year, with the most lucky people in the world.” He went on to introduce Chris Martin who performed “Pretty Woman,” “You Can Never Tell,” and an original song he wrote for Roberts called “Julia Roberts’ Smile.”
“I’m here because I love Julia and I’m less keen on AIDS, so it’s perfect,” Martin said before he started singing. Moments later, Corden returned, and showed off his singing chops in a “Nothing Compares to You” duet with Martin, who played the piano. “We’re singing this to Julia because we grew up fancying her.” the Coldplay frontman said, with Corden adding, “the notion of the chorus is how everybody feels."
Guests went on to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for AmFar during a charity auction, bidding on items like a graphic piece of Mr Brainwash Juxtapose artwork, a Giant Cracking Art pink rabbit, trips around the world, a Jean Paul Gaultier Paris show and couture dress package, and more.
Cole won the Mr. Brainwash work, but the fun really began when bids rolled in for a lunch date with Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, and Ryan Murphy. Hanks bid on the package as Julia cheered and giggled, but as bids stayed around the $50,000 mark, he and other celebs took things up a notch to boost the amount. Hanks yelled out, “I’ll join the lunch!” James Corden also yelled out that he would join too, and jokingly told the auctioneer that he would not only attend, but cook the lunch with Sean Penn for the winning bidders. The lunch ended up selling for $100,000, making it the biggest ticket item of the night.
Following the auction, Tom Hanks hit the stage to introduce Roberts, saying, “I can’t say enough nice things about Julia Roberts.” He continued, “It’s right that you give this to her tonight, it’s right that you honor her, because she knows what’s important in this world and she smells wonderful.”
Roberts went on to take the stage in an LBD with sheer sleeves. “I was realizing that over the past ten years alone, deaths from HIV/AIDS have halved, and we have finally reached a real tipping point in this fight,” she told the crowd. “It’s sort of incredible, just meaning that more people are receiving life-saving treatments than becoming infected with the disease.”
“I just thought, a night like this, if we don’t take our foot off the gas, then by 2020, we could ensure that no children will be born with HIV anymore, becoming the first HIV-free generation,” she continued. “And if we get through that milestone, by 2030, we could rid the world of AIDS altogether.”
“I accept this honor, not for anything that I have done, but for all that I hope to accomplish,” she went on. “It’s like a gentle reminder to do more, and be more aware, and more courageous. And if it’s alright, I would like to consider this my two-week-early 50th birthday party. I would just like to ask all of you wonderful friends here tonight to please just give and give and give to assist this relentless and valiant mission to find a cure for AIDS, and to bring peace to the life of all those who suffer.”
Fergie closed out the night with a mini concert, crooning songs and shaking her hips in black shorts, black knee-high boots, and a sparkly black and gold jacket. Selita Ebanks stood up and danced as she crooned “Fergalicious,” and Kate Hudson danced her way through the party with her mom and Griffith as Fergie sang “You Already Know.”
“It’s amazing to be in this spectacular room right now,” Fergie said in between songs. “I feel blessed to be here. I’ve been supporting AMFAR for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve performed here.” She closed out the night with the Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling,” and pulled Roberts and more on stage to dance and celebrate the end of the successful evening.