She has the most famous smile in the world, so when the word “happy” is mentioned, it’s only natural Julia Roberts would come to mind – and when heritage luxury brand Chopard wanted a dazzling face for its new Happy Sport campaign, her superstar wattage delivered. “It was my good fortune that Chopard came to me,” she says in an exclusive interview with Vogue Arabia. “There was an immediate synergy. As a longtime admirer, this has all been very exciting.”
The 53-year-old is her generation’s biggest female movie star – the first to be paid $20 million (for 2000’s Erin Brockovich, four years after Jim Carrey became the first male actor to command that fee), then the first to be paid $25 million (for 2003’s Mona Lisa Smile). In December 2000, Roberts was also the first actress to make The Hollywood Reporter’s Power 100 list of most influential women in show business (which usually only includes behind-the-scenes executives), ranking third. “I feel quite fortunate that I’ve made my life as an artist a career,” she shares. “My creative process brings me a lot of happiness and a great sense of fulfillment.”
This creative process continues in the sparkling new campaign for Happy Sport, Chopard’s equally joyful seminal watch. Designed in 1993 by Chopard’s co-president and artistic director, Caroline Scheufele, the Happy Sport watch embodies joie de vivre and a free-spirited attitude; its dancing diamonds as liberated as the women who wear it. Scheufele wanted to create a versatile watch for the modern woman, a piece she could wear as effortlessly playing sports as doing business or going to dinner. The result was a boundary-pushing watch mingling steel and diamonds, with a comfortable pebble-link bracelet, and seven diamonds dancing whimsically across the white dial. For 2021, the Happy Sport watch has been reimagined in a comfortable 33mm diameter case, inspired by the “golden ratio,” with 11 new references: models entirely crafted from steel or ethical 18ct rose gold, as well as bi- material variations, all available on a leather strap or matching metal bracelet and framed by a polished or diamond-set bezel.
Another version, made of ethical 18ct white gold, is entirely set with diamonds on the case, bezel, crown, and bracelet. All of them beat to the rhythm of the Chopard Manufacture 09.01-C movement with automatic winding, and each dial is graced with the legendary dancing diamonds. “This watch is rather perfect,” Roberts says of the iconic Happy Sport. “The balance of everyday elegance and surprising whimsy of the free diamonds! I love it. The watch is, of course, extremely special in its craftsmanship. I feel the type of person to wear this watch appreciates the details but doesn’t spend time fussing over them.” Along with the Happy Sport watch models, the new campaign also includes a collection of Happy Diamonds and Happy Hearts jewelry under Chopard’s Happy Diamonds line.
Happiness is indeed what Roberts exudes in the joyful campaign video, helmed by director and Cannes film festival darling Xavier Dolan. In it, she dances joyfully, a crisp white shirt and jeans offsetting the Happy Sport watch, her smile the only other accessory. “Working with Xavier was like getting a present! He has so much talent and energy,” enthuses Roberts. “It was the fastest I think I have ever connected with someone on how to make the shoot work.” For his part, the filmmaker raves about his star. “There’s no question that Julia represents, for me, that kind of modernity in a woman that we think is really sensual and beautiful. That’s definitely what strikes me most about Julia: her humanity.”
While part of her appeal is assuredly her warmth and openness, when she unleashes that adored smile – perhaps only rivaled in reverence by her auburn curls and ferocious talent – Roberts disarms all around her. Born in Smyrna, Georgia, in 1967, to playwright and actor parents who also ran an acting school, she soon succumbed to what her mother called “the family disease,” moving to New York to pursue the stage and screen.
After having two words of dialogue in the forgettable Western Blood Red opposite her brother, Eric Roberts, she landed the role that made Hollywood sit up: as fun-loving waiter Kat in Mystic Pizza (1988). She followed that the next year with an Oscar-nominated turn in Steel Magnolias – but it was her magnetic performance in Pretty Woman (1990) that heralded her arrival as the Next Big Thing. “I am proud of the staying power of Pretty Woman and how much people still enjoy it,” she says fondly. Then came Erin Brockovich (2000), a Steven Soderbergh home run that unleashed her full power; her endless limbs barely contained in tiny skirts and laced-up vests, masking the steely determination, infectious energy, and compassion that makes her such a force of nature. She would pick up the best actress Oscar at the 2001 Academy Awards wearing vintage Valentino, cementing her Hollywood legacy.
Notably private, the actor spent lockdown with her family – cinematographer husband Daniel Moder, who she met on the set of The Mexican in 2000, and their kids, 17-year-old twins Hazel and Phinnaeus and 14-year-old Henry. With the Chopard Happy Sport watch embodying the joyful spirit the world so sorely needs after 2020, how does she plan to bring joy into her life this year? “Last year was a challenge globally and things are still difficult. Moving forward, I believe, the sense of family and community has been revitalized. Our deep gratitude for being free to gather and hug. That brings me such joy. This time of the pandemic has renewed my feelings that the world is a small place in a wonderful way and we all should appreciate this fact. We are all in this life together.”
She would also like to spend more time reading books and less time watching the news, while returning to the small screen after her Golden Globe-nominated turn in the 2018 Amazon series Homecoming for the anthology series Gaslit, scheduled for release later this year. She’ll also be reuniting with her good friend and Ocean’s Eleven co-star George Clooney for Ticket to Paradise, a comedy out next year. She goes with her gut when choosing scripts, following her intuition. “I do not know how to fully explain it, but it is a feeling that has always guided me,” she shares. “I trust that feeling and have never questioned it. My sense of success is largely the same: to be able to take care of myself and be proud of my intentions.” Traveling, too, might be on the agenda this year, Covid permitting. Roberts hasn’t seen enough of the region, she says, but would love to spend time in the Middle East – especially Lebanon. “One of my closest girlfriends is Lebanese. I would love to go there with her on a trip,” she shares. It is mere speculation whether she is talking about Amal Clooney, wife of George…
Roberts only has to walk into frame to lift the spirits, but what makes her happy? “The sunrise,” she states simply. “Being a free-spirited woman means being comfortable in your convictions and sharing your convictions with those around you. Not all women have those liberties, and I am very grateful that I do.” Even though movies and the industry have changed irrevocably, a true star’s capacity to bring joy and luminosity will never fade. Adored by men and women in equal measure, exquisite yet endearing, Julia Roberts will always have our full attention.
Originally published in the May 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia