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Julia Roberts turned down this iconic rom-com, but doesn’t regret it

Julia Roberts was probably offered roles in most of the rom-coms during their hey-day in the 1990s and 2000s, but says that she wasn't that ambitious.

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts is a rom-com queen, and she made a comeback to the genre in 2022 with Ticket to Paradise. In the 1990s, few could touch her between Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride. The 90s and 2000s were the Golden Age of the rom-com, meaning that there was plenty of room for other actresses who excelled in the genre – such as Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lopez, and Drew Barrymore. But Roberts’ main source of rivalry for rom-com supremacy probably came from one person – Meg Ryan.


Ryan starred in arguably the best rom-com of all time – When Harry Met Sally – in 1989. She would go onto star in Joe vs the Volcano, French Kiss, Addicted to Love, and You’ve Got Mail. She is best known for her collaborations with Tom Hanks, the zenith of which was probably 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle.

Speaking to In Style in 2014, Roberts revealed how she came close to starring in Sleepless in Seattle – which is hardly surprising, given the enormous success of Pretty Woman. “I’d been offered Sleepless in Seattle but couldn’t do it. [Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town (in the 1990 film Pretty Woman), you know?”

“I always feel like there is room for everybody. I don’t consider myself really all that ambitious,” she told the fashion magazine. “When I didn’t get a part – even when I was younger and needing to pay my rent – I would think, ‘Oh, someone else got it. She’s going to be so good.’ I never felt sour grapes.” Despite Roberts’ lack of ambition, she won the Best Actress Oscar in 2001 for Erin Brockovich.

2022 didn’t just see the return of Roberts to the rom-com genre, Sandra Bullock also returned in The Lost City, and Jennifer Lopez was also back in Marry Me. Drew Barrymore now hosts a talk show, and Meg Ryan has more or less retired from acting, although she directed a movie in 2015.

While the rom-com genre is not what it once was in its hey-day, there are still a few romance movies to be enjoyed.