Actor returns to romantic comedy in Journey to Heaven with Julia Roberts in their fifth film together
British Al Parker, director of “Now and Forever” and “Mamma Mia! Again and again,” brings together two titans of cinema on the big screen: Julia Roberts and George Clooney in “Journey to Paradise,” which is released on September 9. The film tells the story of a bitterly divorced couple, played by Roberts and Clooney, who travel to Bali to prevent their daughter from getting married and making the same mistake they did 25 years ago. “Journey to Heaven” marks the return of Julia Roberts, the queen of the romantic comedy, to a genre she has dominated like few actresses in history, and her reunion with George Clooney after previously sharing cameras in “Money Monster” (2016) , ‘Ocean’s ‘Eleven’ (2011) and ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ (2004).
-Why did you decide to do “Journey to Heaven”? He hasn’t done a romantic comedy in over twenty years.
– I haven’t shot a romantic comedy in almost thirty years. It was important for me to work with the queen of romantic comedies, but since she couldn’t take the job, I’m working with Julia (she jokes). In fact, Julia is the queen.
-There seems to be a lot of camaraderie between you two. when did you meet
-We first met Steven Soderbergh in a hotel in Las Vegas before the filming of “Ocean’s Eleven” and joked around for five hours. It was always very easy for us to get along. When they sent us the script for Journey to Heaven, the director sent it to Julia and me at the same time. I called Julia and said: Did you read this? And she answered: I’m reading it right now. And I replied: The only way I can do that is with you. She agreed and we did it. It’s fun to work with friends.
– This is your fifth joint work. Don’t you need to rehearse?
Julia and I know each other quite well.
– Were you forced to create your own covid bubble to shoot the film?
“I think it’s important to remember that what we have to do with this is nothing compared to what the rest of the world has been through. People in Australia really had very hard and tough rules, but they kept their heads down and got through it and made a big sacrifice. We, if the United States had done that, would have thousands of people alive today. So what they did was extremely brave and for us to come in is nothing. We just had to step in and we had some difficulties, but they went through a long, hard quagmire, so we were very honored to be among people who took things so seriously.
– What would you point out about the director?
– The truth is the following. We were very lucky. He wrote a beautiful script, showed up and literally found the actors he wanted. He had to make us all pay attention to him, and there was nothing but fun and tenderness. We didn’t have a single bad day on set and that’s a very rare thing.
-There’s a scene where their characters dance drunk to the song “Gonna Make You Sweat”.
-I didn’t have to rehearse in this scene. I’ve been training for years (laughs). It was fun watching the younger actors stare at us while Julia and I shot this scene.
George Clooney and Caitlin Dever in Journey to Heaven.
-Would you say that it is a spontaneous and improvised film by the actors?
-Let me defend the writer on this one, because writers really hate to hear that. We actors stick to the dialogue and then decide which dialogue to play with in each scene. The director gave us freedom, but there was a lot of good dialogue written for interpretation, although I have to admit that Julia’s best lines were written by her.
– You and Roberts are also producers of the film. What makes them take this side of the industry?
-I think that as you grow in this business it is important to diversify and find other ways to be involved. You take the pressure off yourself by not caring what the casting director thinks of you or how you’re aging as an actor. To avoid this situation, you have to write, direct and produce. It was a production that didn’t need many of us. We just help with distribution. Julia and I, she produces a lot too, as we get older we have to have other irons in the fire. You can’t trust other people’s opinions because that’s dangerous.
Julia Roberts: ‘I enjoyed torturing George’
“I like to make people laugh,” admits Julia Roberts. “If anything motivated George and I to make this film, it was the opportunity to bring joy to others. Every time we shot and heard the laughter of the team behind the monitor, we knew we had nailed the scene and allowed ourselves to continue. Working in such an environment was really great. We were on an island with no escape from each other, sharing space in a unique way. It allowed us to get to know each other and enjoy each other because we weren’t close to home and couldn’t get on with our lives after work.”
Roberts won title after title, the affection of half the world and the admiration of his teammates. In fact, Clooney wouldn’t have made this movie if she wasn’t committed to her character. “I enjoyed this opportunity because it allowed me to be sarcastic with George, it really stood out to me that I could torture him. To see him pathetically in love with me and I can’t do anything about it amuses me a lot,” quips the actress, sitting next to Clooney. “Journey to Heaven”. Roberts also became an advocate for feminism. “We need to come together as a society to stand up to this predatory behavior, help victims find their voice and their treatment, and stop this once and for all,” he said of bullying. This 2022, she continues to showcase her full range with Journey to Paradise, and next October, the actress will receive an Icon Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognition of the global cultural impact of her career. “I think it would be very unfair not to recognize the director’s work on this film because he was brave, funny, kind and wonderful. He faced a very unruly group of actors and he got it. He treated us as individuals and was able to guide us in that way in a way that shows in the film.”