Dossier: Meet Your New Neighbor, Julia Roberts

By Julissa James

A formal introduction to Roberts may not be necessary, but since news surfaced that the A-lister was setting down roots in SF, we thought it high time for a refresher course. (Donna Grethen) 

You know Julia Roberts, the megawatt actor. But do you know Julia Roberts, your new neighbor?

In late February, the Erin Brockovich Oscar winner — who’s had the world in her thrall since the moment she flashed her disarming, toothy smile on the silver screen in the ’80s classic Mystic Pizza — snagged a century-old Victorian in Presidio Heights with cinematographer husband Danny Moder. The couple decided to make their years-long love affair with the City official, and our lives in it a lot more interesting. After all: We’re just a city of people, standing in front of a star, asking her to love us.

A formal introduction may not be necessary — it’s Julia-freaking-Roberts, the original  Pretty Woman — but since news surfaced that the A-lister was setting down roots in SF, we thought it high time for a refresher course.

What has the 52-year-old Georgia native been up to lately? Lots of advocacy  — not a lot of rom-coms. And where might she be hanging out whilst in the City? Let’s speculate wildly.

New digs

The five-level, 6,200-square-foot home boasts 4.5 bedrooms, multiple balconies with coveted views of the Golden Gate, a wet bar, a wood-paneled wine cellar — and we’re just getting started. Good selfie light streams in through the home’s large bay windows, and its clean, classic interior features custom moldings and paneled walls. The living room has more than one fireplace and the backyard includes a tiered patio and dining area. With a space like that, Roberts might just be ordering in every meal.

No stranger to NorCal

Dying Young, the 1991 romantic drama starring Roberts and Campbell Scott, isn’t exactly her most celebrated film to date — critics at the time largely regarded it as a sappy bummer that didn’t quite deliver, Roberts’ exuberant performance notwithstanding. But it was shot in Northern California. From the Mendocino Headlands to the City, the weepie depicts Roberts as the charming, lively caretaker of a man battling leukemia. Spoiler alert: They fall in love! Not exactly a cult classic, but the image of Roberts speeding across the Golden Gate Bridge, bay breeze swishing through her enviable red locks, is forever.

“Julia Roberts Isn’t America’s Sweetheart Anymore — And We’re Better For It”

So proclaims the headline of one 2018 Buzzfeed article that celebrates Roberts shedding her sugary-sweet, girl-next-door persona to reveal a more authentic, even edgier, version of herself. In recent years, she’s sunk her teeth into meatier roles that tackle issues like addiction and mental health. See 2018’s Ben Is Back, an intense family drama where she plays the mother of an addict, and Homecoming , an Amazon psychological thriller series that marked Roberts’ rare departure into television acting.

It’s a little big city, after all

Here’s what we know: In 2017, Roberts was spotted shopping on Valencia Street in the Mission, hopscotching from Voyager boutique to Little Star Pizza. Last year, she enjoyed a low-key meal at Outerlands in the Outer Sunset. There’s no shortage of intimate, stylish places the star could frequent in and around her new neighborhood — Sorrel or Spruce, perhaps? Yoga Tree 6th Avenue if she wants to get her Eat, Pray, Love on? Either way, let’s try, as a city, not to lose it completely if we see her famously wavy mane and doe eyes in the wild — we don’t want to freak her out.

A down-to-earth social media presence

There are celebs who use social media as glossy, contrived extensions of their public personas. But Roberts, for the most part, keeps it real. Since joining Instagram in 2018, she’s given us endearingly low-res snapshots into her everyday life. On the feed: Birthday shout-outs to her former co-stars Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt, along with her friend Oprah. Throwbacks with her niece Emma Roberts and pal Gwyneth Paltrow. A blurry shot of her stanning teenage phenom Billie Eilish. Just a day in the life.

The personal is political, right JR?

Roberts has been fearlessly outspoken about causes close to her heart, which makes her a shoo-in for San Francisco. She works closely with the Girls Opportunity Alliance, the Obama Foundation’s nonprofit that aims to empower girls worldwide through education. She publicly mourned Nia Wilson, who was brutally murdered at Oakland’s MacArthur BART station in 2018. She’s also used her platform to advocate against family separation under the Trump Administration and childhood bullying.

Notting Who?

The actor’s quintessential rom com moment came in Notting Hill (1999), when she played a Hollywood starlet who falls for a bookshop keeper (peak Hugh Grant) in the posh West London neighborhood. But can we talk about her character’s wardrobe for a second? It screams San Francisco![EC3] If we saw Roberts today walking downtown in that famous look from the movie’s meet-cute — chic beret, cat-eye sunglasses, black leather trench, slacks, platform Vans and a white T-shirt with a large juice stain on it — we’d demand outfit details.

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