Sitting at a press screening this week, it was easy to see why Smyrna gal Julia Roberts opted to act in the romantic comedy, “Valentine’s Day.”
First, the film (in theaters today), pairs her once again with director Garry Marshall, whose “Pretty Woman” shot her to super stardom 20 years ago.
Better still, Roberts’ role in the all-star ensemble flick fits neatly into the overhead compartment on the jet plane set where the Oscar winner and mother of three filmed her handful of scenes.
The film also stars Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates, Hector Elizondo, Emma Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway.
Roberts plays U.S. Army Captain Kate Hazeltine who is flying 14 hours on Valentine’s Day to rendezvous with a mysterious loved one.
Her seatmate on the plane is heartbroken Holden, played by Bradley Cooper, who first became pals with Roberts when they did “Three Days of Rain” on Broadway together.
Explains Cooper: “We did eight shows a week so I got to know her pretty well. It definitely helped to have that prior relationship coming into this film because we spent almost all of our time sitting side-by-side. But we really had a great time.”
In an homage to “Pretty Woman,” Marshall recreates the fake bus stop outside the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Hollywood he first introduced for Roberts and Richard Gere in the 1990 hit film (the actual $800-a-night high-end hotel lacks a hub for public transportation out front…).
While Roberts’ role makes up only about three-percent of “Valentine’s Day,” she and Cooper’s final scenes are alternatively among the comedy’s sweetest and most surprising.
Oh, and stay for the credits for a classic bit of ad libbing from Roberts in the blooper reel Marshall compiled.
In a scene shot in the back of a rented town car, Roberts riffs on her “Pretty Woman” hooker character’s less-than-warm welcome to Rodeo Drive two decades ago.
When her driver asks if she’s ever shopped on Hollywood’s most famed luxury boutique-lined street, Roberts laughs and replies:
“I did once. Big mistake. Huge!”