The shady side of Julia Roberts

For a generous portion of her career, actress Julia Roberts was considered America's sweetheart. She shot to fame in the early '90s as the street-walking star of Pretty Woman. Her infectious, toothy grin and girl-next-door Southern charm won Hollywood's heart, but there is also a shady and less polished side to Roberts that isn't often discussed in the media. The actress herself has admitted to making mistakes in the past, telling Harper's Bazaar in 2017 that "I was my priority, a selfish little brat running around making films." And with that, here are some controversial moments that have tarnished Robert's silver screen crown.

Julia Roberts reportedly hooked up with her ex's friend

In 1991, Julia Roberts was set to marry Kiefer Sutherland, who was quite the stud in his pre-Jack Bauer years. She called off the engagement just three days before the nuptials. According to the New York Daily News, Roberts allegedly thought her fiancé was cheating on her with a stripper. What's so wrong about a bride-to-be shutting down a wedding due to fidelity concerns? Nothing.

It was what Julia Roberts did immediately after she ended the relationship that makes you go hmm. According to People, she fled to Ireland and sought comfort from actor Jason Patric, a friend of Sutherland. On the eve of what would have been her wedding day, she went to a photo shoot reportedly wearing a "Notre Dame baseball cap suspiciously identical to the one worn around town by Patric." Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Julia Roberts broke Lyle Lovett's heart

Julia Roberts married oddly coifed country singer Lyle Lovett in 1993. They swapped vows after a three-week courtship, and she even went barefoot at their wedding. The odd couple seemed to share a sweet romance, or so it seemed on the surface. Imagine everyone's surprise when, just 21 months later, the pair issued a brief statement to announce its separation: "We remain close and in great support of each other."

The timing was terrible, and it seemed like Lovett got the short end of the stick. Roberts was in London shooting Mary Reilly, while Lovett was in Houston recovering from a motorcycle accident. (That doesn't sound like "great support" on Roberts' part.) Though the statement was a joint affair, fans felt like a doting Lovett had been put out to pasture as his wife's fame soared. Not long before the breakup, he'd talked happily about trying to start a family when Roberts finished filming — an idea that seemed unrealistic considering he also told People they had never spent seven straight days together.

Did Roberts wear a shady T-shirt to target her man's ex-wife?

That infamous baseball cap isn't the only time Julia Roberts has been accused of throwing shade with her fashion choices. She reportedly started dating now-husband Danny Moder in 2000, while Moder was still married to his first wife, makeup artist Vera Steimberg. In 2001, Roberts was spotted traipsing around in full view of paparazzi wearing a T-shirt that read "A Low Vera." That photo reportedly didn't sit well with Moder's family. A source told People that Moder's father was perturbed by Roberts' seemingly petty sartorial selection, especially since Steimberg was close with Moder's family.

Roberts never expressed remorse for that notorious outfit. She later told Oprah Winfrey, "I stand by my shirt," pointing the finger at the tabloid press who "dramatize these things until there's a state of frenzy. People see frenzy and they go, 'What?' Then they clamor toward the frenzy. We all do it. It's a primal, natural response." Was that an intellectual moment or just another sick burn — perhaps one requiring some soothing A Low Vera? (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)

Julia Roberts allegedly spun her breakup with Benjamin Bratt to hurt him

Life & Style reported that not only did Julia Roberts pursue married Danny Moder "in a big way," but she supposedly dropped her four-year relationship with actor Benjamin Bratt to go after the cameraman. She allegedly took the shade up a notch by spinning the press in her favor.

The Bratt breakup was "a lot nastier than anyone ever knew," an insider told the National Enquirer. "They accused each other of cheating, and Ben finally said he'd had enough. Julia has always said she walked out on him, but it was the other way around. And Julia claimed she ended the relationship because he couldn't commit. That had Ben seeing red. He was the one who wanted to settle down and start a family, but Julia refused." Ouch.

Did she play publicity games to improve her 'homewrecker' image?

Rumor has it that Julia Roberts allegedly didn't take much issue with pursuing Danny Moder while he was married to then-wife Vera Steimberg, but the A-list actress supposedly did worry about her reputation taking a hit because of it. Take all this with a huge helping of salt, but according to Radar Online, Roberts may have offered Steimberg $100,000 to divorce Moder. The tabloid also claimed that Moder's sister kept a diary while in rehab that accused Roberts of destroying her brother's marriage and fracturing the family. 

Needless to say, an insider told Life & Style that Roberts was mortified by the "homewrecker" label with which she'd been slapped, calling it "an absolute PR disaster." Some sources claimed Roberts' focus on family life and charity work was born of a desire to combat her portrayal in the press as some sort of villainous minx. "Being as down-to-earth and unHollywood as possible has made Hollywood embrace her again," one insider said.

Julia Roberts was nicknamed 'Tinkerhell'

When Steven Spielberg directed Hook, he cast Julia Roberts as the magical fairy Tinkerbell in the Peter Pan adaptation. By the time the credits rolled, she'd been nicknamed "Tinkerhell." The handle spread like wildfire, and this was back in 1991, before social media and all things viral! During an interview on 60 Minutes, Spielberg was asked about Roberts' professionalism. He replied, "It was an unfortunate time for us to work together."

Roberts never grew out of that reputation, despite playing nice in nearly every interview about it. "Hand to God: not a thing I read about that was truthful, and it really hurt my feelings," she told Vanity Fair. Regarding Spielberg's comments, she said, "I couldn't believe that this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defense. It was a hard lesson to learn. It was the first time that I felt I had a turncoat in my midst." As they say, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

Julia Roberts was accused of being a 'runaway bridesmaid'

One of Julia Roberts' iconic roles was the titular Runaway Bride in 1999, and if the rumors are true, the Oscar-winner didn't limit her fleeing to her own on-screen weddings. The National Enquirer (via the Daily Mail) reported in 2013 that Roberts allegedly started a family feud after she refused to be part of half-sister Nancy Motes' wedding. Roberts reportedly wasn't a fan of Motes' then-husband-to-be, John Dilbeck. 

"She's convinced he's sponging off Nancy, who doesn't have much money in the first place," a source griped. "They moved out to L.A. from Georgia, and John was working at a Panda Express restaurant. But he quit the job after Nancy landed a gig as a production assistant on Glee." The report also alleged that Roberts worried she'd have to foot the bill for Motes' big day. Tragically, Motes died of a drug overdose before she and Dilbeck walked down the aisle.

Julia Roberts reportedly bullied Nick Nolte (and vice versa)

Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte fizzled on screen in their 1994 romcom I Love Trouble, and they allegedly lacked chemistry off-screen too. According to the Los Angeles Times, "tempers flared early on, peppered with a few Roberts tantrums along the way. Roberts reportedly wasn't thrilled with Nolte's machismo, so she would deride and insult her co-star. Some on the set claimed he became so annoyed with her attitude that he would do things to agitate her even more. The discord became so intense, sources say the two played more to stand-ins than to each other."

Fifteen years later, Roberts allegedly mocked her former co-star on The Late Show with David Letterman. She didn't say who she was poking fun at, but she did an imitation that had lots of folks pointing and laughing at Nolte.

Julia Roberts may have trust issues with hubby Danny Moder

They've been married since 2002 and have three kids, but Julia Roberts reportedly has trust issues with Danny Moder. Celeb Dirty Laundry claimed Julia Roberts fears he's cheating on her and will leave her like he left his first wife...for her. The gossip site said the actress supposedly "spent about $7 million on a house across the street from the couple's mansion on the beach in Malibu" so Moder can move out while remaining accessible to their kids: Henry, Hazel, and Phinnaeus.

Rumors that the relationship is on the rocks have been circulating for years, but it's worth noting that the two people who matter most have said nothing about divorce. Though the pair is very private and not prone to PDA, Roberts did open up a little on actress Gwyneth Paltrow's podcast in 2018. "He truly, to this day, to this minute is just my favorite human," Roberts said (via E! News). 

A writer claimed Julia Roberts threw shade at him for no reason

Fox News theater, movie, and television critic Roger Friedman claimed Julia Roberts was incredibly mean to him at the premiere of 2009's Duplicity because she had reportedly confused him with other reviewers who gave her negative press for a Broadway production in which she starred. "She was rude, downright nasty, and dismissive. She snubbed me in front of other people to make her point, and later cut in between me and director Tony Gilroy to make her point," Friedman recalled. "Her behavior was unexpected and chilling."

When Friedman asked her publicist why Roberts was behaving so rudely, her rep supposedly told him, "She knows you broke the embargo on her play and wrote bad things about her." He also claimed an agent at a party told him, "Julia said, 'That's the man who writes bad things about me.'" Too bad Friedman was one of the critics who had reportedly praised Roberts' work, so if all this is true, her grudge was entirely unfounded.