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Julia on Javier arriving on set: 'It was like deciding to get a puppy'

Wonderwall, Monday, August 2, 2010, 12:57pm (PDT)

By Molly McGonigle

Julia Roberts has been the business for a long time and -- no, she's not jaded. At a press day for her new film "Eat Pray Love," the mom of three talked about her character, loving her own life, and working in exotic locations. Oh, and she also talked about her hot co-star Javier Bardem. Check out her interview below.

What was it like working on so many locations and shooting in chronological order?

Julia Roberts: For me, it was a great luxury to shoot it in chronological order. New York, Italy, India, and Bali. I think it was almost a necessity of emotional evolution to … and you can't start any movie in Bali and then leave. So there's that. But I think that it was important for us to create the steps that she [Liz Gilbert] took and understand very clearly how she got from one point to the next and one place to the next and how the relationships evolved and got her to the next relationship. All which led her to Bali.

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Your character's ready for a life change, and you've made a lot of changes. Did you feel ready for the next step?

JR: Not in the urgent way, in the way that Liz experiences it. I definitely knew my life would continue to evolve until I found that place where I could fully occupy and live in, which is the home that I have now. But you know I relate to her search and her pursuit and it was definitely great to have a fulfilled sense of my own life. And be playing some of these scenes and come home at the end of the day and be like "OK. Good. Everyone's here. We're good."

How did you create your character?

JR: I met Liz in Rome, and I didn't want to meet her before that. I put my trust in Ryan Murphy [the director and screenplay writer] who was in very close contact with her in creating my character. So I knew that his paper interpretation of her, that he gave me as my reference, was all that I would need. And I was actually worried about falling too in love with her. That I would try to be her as opposed to just interpret her as an actor. I wanted to meet her after we had done so much I couldn't change it. She's just a delight and like a warm hug the second you lay eyes on her.

What was it like playing such an emotionally evolved character?

JR: Well, I think you have to find a way to relate to all of it. And this particular journey that she goes on ... it's a lot for me to think about and then intellectualize. And to let all of that go and connect with all of the people she encounters as a very open vessel, which is what I think she did.

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How do you take care of the pray part of "Eat Pray Love"?

JR: Well I think that if you've gotten to a place in your life where you have found a capacity to eat and nourish yourself and love and nourish your life in that way, then somewhere along the way you've figured out your own identity and how to pray. And ultimately relate to an energy or a creation that's more than you or else you can't accomplish those other things. And how you do it and how you relate to it and what you name it becomes insignificant to the way you relate to it. And Javier told me that once so I'm just repeating it, but it makes sense.

Your character spends all of this time searching for her word. What's yours?

JR: Optimistic. Oh Christ, I can't remember. I would say loyal is my word. Loyal.

What was it like working with Javier Bardem?

JR: Javier showed up in Bali and it was like deciding to get a puppy. You have everything in your house worked out. You're like "My life is so settled and so fixed, I will get that puppy.'"And then you do and you're like I'm way too tired to have a puppy. He came in with all of this gusto and enthusiasm and "Let's get lunch; do you wanna read some scenes?" And then you realize that this is getting good, you want to get that lunch and read lines together. His excitement was so contagious. Each time we went to a new country we got amped up for a new experience. And it infused us with energies we thought were long gone and that's how it was when Javier got there ... It was just great fun and play. He comes across as incredibly comfortable with his acting and his ease.

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