Julia Roberts has been a lead actress in Hollywood for over 3 decades — here's a look at her incredible career

Buena Vista Pictures / Alex Bailey / The Weinstein CompanyJulia Roberts has been acting for over two decades.

Julia Roberts landed her first role in 1987 and in the time since has become one of the biggest names in Hollywood.

She was the first woman to ask for a $US20 million salary for her Oscar-winning performance in “Erin Brockovich” and her films consistently make over $US200 million at the box office, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Roberts has been working for 30 years straight and her resume is jaw-droppingly impressive. With 61 acting credits to her name, including popular films like “Pretty Women” and “Notting Hill,” it’s safe to say Roberts is a Hollywood icon.

Here’s a look back at Roberts’ impressive career timeline from 1987 to now.


In 1987, Julia Roberts landed her first role.

NBCJulia Roberts in ‘Crime Story.’

Starring as Tracy in one episode of the ’80s show “Crime Story,” Roberts appeared in the show just once, in the season one episode “The Survivor.”

She had one other acting credit in 1987 for the film “Firehouse.”


Roberts was in “Mystic Pizza” in 1988.

The Samuel Goldwyn CompanyJulia Roberts in ‘Mystic Pizza.’

At the beginning of 1988, Roberts starred in the film “Satisfaction” alongside Justine Bateman and Liam Neeson. Technically, this was the star’s first acting credit, but the film wasn’t released until 1988.

She then landed a role in the HBO movie “Baja Oklahoma” and even appeared in an episode of “Miami Vice” before getting her first major role as Daisy in “Mystic Pizza.” This movie can be credited as putting Roberts on the scene – but not necessarily making her career.

“A lot of people went up for the movie,” Elaine Goldsmith, an agent at William Morris Agency told the LA Times about “Mystic Pizza.” “But when Julia wants something, she goes after it. Julia’s got passion. She’s very focused.”


Roberts became a star after appearing in “Steel Magnolias” in 1989.

IMDbJulia Roberts in ‘Steel Magnolias.’

After a straight to video movie she filmed in 1986 was released, Roberts landed a coveted role in “Steel Magnolias.

In the film, Roberts starred alongside seasoned actors Sally Field, Dolly Parton, and Shirley MacLaine, among many others. Roberts won her first Golden Globe for her role as a supporting actress in this film.


In 1990, Roberts’ career took off.

Buena Visa PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman.’

After the release of “Steel Magnolias,” Roberts’s next role was in Disney’s “Pretty Woman,” which elevated her career to superstardom. Starring alongside Richard Gere, “Pretty Woman” earned Julia Roberts her second Golden Globe. This was the launch of Roberts as the most in-demand actress in Hollywood. But Roberts said she didn’t have any idea the film would be so successful.

“People say, ‘Oh, when ‘Pretty Woman’ came out it must have really changed your life,’ and it’s kind of become this joke, but the truth is I was out of town when ‘Pretty Woman’ came out,” she said in an interview with People magazine. “I was in another movie in this tiny little town that was showing Star Wars in its first run. I remember reading… ‘Pretty Woman’ came out this weekend and made this much money’ and I thought, ‘Is that a lot of money? Is that good? Is that great?’ I didn’t really know.”

The film “Flatliners,” in which Roberts starred alongside then-beau Keifer Sutherland was released the same year. LA Times reported that she earned $US550,000 for her role in the film.


Roberts starred alongside stars like Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in 1991.

TriStar PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Hook.’

In 1991, Roberts released three movies back-to-back. The first, “Sleeping With the Enemy,” was the movie that, according to many, solidified Roberts as a box-office star.

Mike Simpson, co-head of the motion picture division of William Morris told the LA Times, “It was ‘Sleeping With the Enemy,’ though, that confirmed Julia as a box-office star.”

She also starred in “Dying Young” and Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” alongside Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman. Roberts made a reported $US3 million from her role in “Dying Young.”


Roberts starred alongside Denzel Washington in 1993.

Warner BrosJulia Roberts in ‘The Pelican Brief.’

In 1993’s “The Pelican Brief,” Roberts was thrown back into the spotlight with this high-drama crime film. It was the only movie the star released in 1993.


Roberts appeared in six films between 1994 and 1996.

Buena Vista PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘I Love Trouble.’

Although none were blockbuster hits, Roberts starred in six films, including “I Love Trouble,” and “Something to Talk About.

She also appeared in an episode of “Friends.”


In 1997, Roberts earned three Golden Globe nominations.

TriStar PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘My Best Friends Wedding.’

In 1997, Roberts starred in two movies. The first is arguably one of the greatest romantic comedies ever filmed: “My Best Friends Wedding.” She starred alongside Dermot Mulroney and Cameron Diaz and the film earned Roberts her third Golden Globe nomination.

Roberts also appeared in a second movie in 1997 with co-star Mel Gibson in the film “Conspiracy Theory.


In 1998, Roberts appeared in a movie with Susan Sarandon.

Columbia PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Stepmom.’

In addition to the release of “Stepmom” in 1998, Roberts appeared in two episodes of the show “Murphy Brown” as herself.


The years of 1999 and 2000 were arguably the peak of her career.

Universal PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Notting Hill.’

Roberts started 1999 off with a minor role on “Law & Order.”

Read more: 50 celebrities you forgot appeared on ‘Law and Order: SVU’

She then released three back-to-back blockbusters. The first was the rom-com “Notting Hill” starring Hugh Grant that raked in nearly $US365 million worldwide.

The second was another rom-com, “Runaway Bride,” where Roberts and Gere would team up once again. This film was less successful than “Notting Hill,” but still acquired over $US300 million worldwide.

In 2000, the movie that would define Roberts career was released: “Erin Brockovich.” The drama film was inspired by a true story of a woman that helped take down a multi-million dollar company in California. Roberts won a Golden Globe for “Best Actress” for her performance. She also won her first Academy Award for portraying Erin Brockovich.


Roberts starred in nine feature films and one television documentary series from 2001 to 2004.

‎Columbia PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Mona Lisa Smile.’

In a span of four years, the superstar starred in nine major films, including “Oceans Eleven” and “Oceans Twelve,” among many other notable works, like “Mona Lisa Smile” and “Closer.”

During this time, Hollywood Reporter reported that Roberts earned $US25 million for her role in “Mona Lisa Smile” alone.


Roberts took time off in 2005.

Evan Agostini/GettyJulia Roberts took time off after giving birth to twins.

This is the only year since 1987 that Roberts didn’t have an acting credit to her name. Presumably, the actress took time off after having twins in 2004.

Read more: 26 celebrity parents who have twins


Roberts tried voice acting in 2006.

Warner BrosJulia Roberts voiced Hova in ‘The Ant Bully.’

Roberts lent her voice to Hova in “The Ant Bully” and Charlotte the spider in “Charlotte’s Web.” This was her first-time voice acting and she wouldn’t voice another animated character again until 2017.


From 2007 to 2009, Roberts starred in one film a year.

Universal PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Duplicity.’

In 2007, Roberts appeared in the film “Charlie Wilson’s War” with Tom Hanks.

In 2008, she starred alongside fellow movie stars Ryan Reynolds, William Dafoe, Emily Watson and more in the intense drama “Fireflies in the Garden.

In 2009, Roberts earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in “Duplicity,” a crime-romance-comedy film about rival spies. Roberts earned $US15 million for her role in the film, according to Hollywood Reporter.


“Eat, Pray, Love” was released in 2010.

Columbia PicturesJulia Roberts in ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’

At the beginning of 2010, Roberts appeared in the film “Valentine’s Day” alongside a host of other famous costars, including her niece, Emma Roberts.

The second film released that year was “Eat, Pray, Love,” based on the novel by Elizabeth Gilbert.


Roberts released four films between 2011 and 2013.

Alex Bailey / The Weinstein CompanyJulia Roberts in ‘August: Osage County.’

In 2011, Roberts voiced a minor character in the film “Love, Wedding, Marriage” and appeared alongside Tom Hanks in “Larry Crowne.

In 2012, she starred in the fantasy film “Mirror Mirror,” the first fairytale-like film for the star.

In 2014, Roberts earned both an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for her role in “August: Osage County.” She starred alongside Meryl Streep in this drama.


From 2014 to 2017 Roberts appeared in seven projects.

LionsgateJulia Roberts in ‘Wonder.’

With seven projects released in a span of three years, Roberts hasn’t seen her career decline since her peak in the early 2000s.

In 2014, she starred in two TV-focused productions, the TV movie “The Normal Heart” and a TV series short where she voiced Mother Nature.

In 2015, she starred in the film “Secrets in Their Eyes,” and in 2016 she appeared in both “Mother’s Day” and “Money Monster.

“Secrets in Their Eyes” was one of the lowest nationwide openings of her career, earning just $US6.7 million.

In 2017, she voiced a Smurf in the animated film “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” and appeared in the film “Wonder” alongside Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. “Wonder” was Robert’s best solo opening since 2000.


Roberts is starring in her first TV series.

AmazonJulia Roberts in ‘Homecoming.’

In addition to releasing the film “Ben Is Back,” 2018 was the first time Roberts starred in her own television series. Roberts will lead the psychological thriller “Homecoming,” which is an Amazon original.

The series is set to premiere on November 2 on Prime Video.

Read more: Julia Roberts is starring on her first TV show on Amazon this fall – and it looks really creepy

In mid-2018, Variety announced that Roberts would begin pre-production on a project titled “Little Bee,” a thriller that the actress will produce and star in.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.