Today, at 10pm on Channel 5, Julia Roberts’ life will be explored by some “surprising celebrity superfans” on “Julia Roberts: A Hollywood Fairytale”. The TV show is part of a series that delves into the many avenues of iconic stars’ careers. But not every moment of the Pretty Woman legend’s life in Hollywood legacy has been so, well, pretty. In fact, in 1991 she had a raging war with Steven Spielberg in an unprecedented feud that went on to last for years.
Roberts worked with Spielberg on the 1991 fantasy movie Hook. The film starred Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as the titular captain.
The actress played Tinkerbell, Peter’s fairy sidekick. But behind the scenes, her personal life was breaking down.
At the time the Pretty Woman actress was engaged to Kiefer Sutherland of The Lost Boys and 24 fame. The pair had been dating for over a year after working together on Flatliners in 1990.
The couple had become one of Hollywood’s hottest pairs, but during the filming of Hook, paparazzi took photos of Sutherland allegedly “spending the night” with a young dancer.
Roberts called off her wedding with Sutherland – just days before it was due to go ahead – and her life was turned upside down.
This turn of events obviously devastated Roberts and it was reflected in her work. She was reportedly “difficult” to work with on the film, and members of the crew gave her the spiteful nickname “TinkerHell”.
Eventually, she and Spielberg began butting heads on set. The director – who won two Oscars for Schindler’s List – confirmed the feud he endured with Roberts in an interview with 60 minutes. He confessed: “It was an unfortunate time for us to work together. But I think Julia is a really, really good actress.”
He was then asked directly if he would ever work with Roberts again. He bluntly replied: “No.”
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Roberts later responded once again to Spielberg’s comments on working with her. She confirmed that, when she heard that he didn’t want to work with her again, she was shocked.
“I saw that and my eyes popped out of my head,” she confessed. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defence. It was a hard lesson to learn. It was the first time that I felt I had a turncoat in my midst.”
Spielberg was not innocent in the feud, however. He has since openly spoken about the stress and pressure he was under to make a successful film. Although the movie made a staggering $300 million at the box office, it was deemed a commercial failure after being made on more than $70 million.
Spielberg has since claimed he was a “fish out of water” making Hook.
Spielberg said: “I didn’t have confidence in the script. I had confidence in the first act and I had confidence in the epilogue. I didn’t have confidence in the body of it.”
Elsewhere on the set of Hook, the Indiana Jones director became strong friends with Peter star Robin Williams.
They maintained a friendship that lasted for years, and Williams would even call Spielberg when he was feeling blue to do “15 minutes of standup comedy”.
“I would laugh hysterically because I had to release so much,” he said.
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