Actor Eric Roberts opens up about his rumoured feud with sister Julia and how he helped her break into Hollywood

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Eric Roberts says he’s proud of younger sister Julia and her success in Hollywood. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Eric Roberts says he’s proud of younger sister Julia and her success in Hollywood. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Drama in the Roberts family isn’t limited to just the big screen.

For years rumours have swirled of a rift between siblings Eric and Julia Roberts – apparently he was jealous when she became a bigger star after her 1990 hit film Pretty Woman.

But Eric says there's no bad blood between them.

"I love knowing my sister. She’s a cool chick,” the 66-year-old says in a new interview on the podcast Behind the Velvet Rope with David Yontef.

His relationship with his family became strained years ago because of his addiction to cocaine and dagga, according to the Oscar-nominated actor.

“I wouldn’t characterise it as a falling-out. I was crazy about my sisters. Loved them, adored them,” Eric adds. He and Julia (54) have another sister, actress and film producer Lisa Roberts Gillan (57).

“They were precious to me, and we had times of great closeness. We all felt protective of one another, but the hardest person to protect yourself from is yourself.”

“I was exhausting to be around,” he admits. “Complainy, blamey, unable to enjoy enjoyment. Everyone in my world needed a break sometimes, and that must have included Julia.” 

Eric Roberts, Julia Roberts, actor, actress, Emma
Eric and Julia haven’t been photographed together since 1986. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

READ MORE | Rom-com queen Julia Roberts reveals the reason for her four-year absence from our screens

The Rideshare Killer actor says the rumour mill went into overdrive when Pretty Woman became a box-office hit and Julia’s fame skyrocketed.

“Years ago I was doing a press tour for some movie. I don't even know what movie it was, but it was just when Pretty Woman got released. And so they're asking a bunch of questions about Julia. And I said, ‘Hey, excuse me. Can we talk about me?’ I think I was funny. And of course, then it's like, "Oh, they have a problem,' " he says.

“And suddenly all these problems I keep hearing about I have with my sister that I don't have with my sister. And they're just popping up all [over] the place. So it blew up and blew up and became all these things it wasn't," he adds.

He might not have been jealous of his baby sister but their relationship did hit a snag in 1993 when Julia sided with his ex-girlfriend Kelly Cunningham during a custody battle over the couple’s daughter, Emma (31).

When Julia helped pay for Kelly’s legal fees, Eric and Julia reportedly didn’t speak for 10 years.

In 2002, Eric took their fight public when he criticised Julia’s Oscar-winning performance in Erin Brockovich. “Everyone's going on about how great she was in Erin Brockovich, but what did she actually do? Wear some push-up bras. It wasn't great acting,” he said at the time.

“I helped Julia [get started], but she's never helped me. When she's been in a position to help, she wanted nothing to do with me,” he continued.

Eric Roberts, Julia Roberts, actor, actress, Emma
Eric and his sisters, Lisa (left) and Julia, with his co-star Jon Voight at the Runaway Train premiere party in 1985. Eric was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

READ MORE | Enduring love: how Julia Roberts and Danny Moder's relationship has stood the test of time

It was the birth of Julia’s twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus, in 2004 that helped reunite the pair. Eric and his wife, Eliza, whom he married in 1992, were warmly welcomed when they went to the hospital to drop off gifts for the twins.

“I was ushered into their room and was immediately awash in brotherly and uncle-ly love," he recalls.

It also helped that he'd pulled his act together and sought help for his substance-abuse issues by then. 

These days the Roberts clan enjoy Thanksgivings together, and the siblings now regularly email each other, even though they've made a point to stay out of each other’s hair when it comes to interviews. 

Eric adores being an uncle to Julia’s three kids. She and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder (53), have another son, Henry. (14). The Homecoming star is a devoted mom, Eric says. "She's a hip mom. She knows it all.”

Eric is a proud big brother and takes credit for his sister and daughter’s success in Hollywood.

"When Julia first came to New York, I went to my agents and I said, ‘Which one of you is going to sign my sister Julia?’ If it wasn’t for me, there would be no Julia Roberts and no Emma Roberts as celebrities, as actresses, and I’m proud of that," he says.


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