'Eat, Pray, Love': Is a Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem pairing genius, or just plain crazy?

Eat-pray-love-casting_l-1 Casting a male lead opposite Julia Roberts is a tricky science. Her whole hey-look-at-me-I'm-a-movie-star persona has been best served in recent years next to subtle, low-key actors like Clive Owen and Aaron Eckhart. Strangely, when she's up against someone equally as famous (Tom Hanks, or Brad Pitt for example), there's a painfully noticeable absence of chemistry. With the news that Javier Bardem has signed on to play Roberts' love interest in Eat, Pray Love (the adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling, travelogue-esque memoir), there is reason to be cautiously optimistic: Bardem can handle subtle. He is, after all, one of the best actors in the business.

That said, if you're thinking a Roberts-Bardem pairing sounds odd and/or like a sign of the apocalypse, don't fret: I'm right there with you. Picturing the two Oscar winners together is a headscratcher far more puzzling than figuring out the last movie Roberts was in that was a hit. (That'd be Erin Brockovich.The Ocean's series doesn't count since she had help from 7.6 other A-listers.) To be sure, Roberts can do romantic comedies in her sleep (she has, actually…it was called America's Sweethearts) and Bardem terrifically showed his sultry side in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It's the two of them together that's the problem: The sexy Spaniard with the American motormouth. I just don't buy it. Then again, Roberts looks nothing like Elizabeth Gilbert, so it seems like a suspension of belief will be required to get within 10 feet of this movie.

Speaking of the movie, with Ryan Murphy of Nip/Tuck and Glee at the helm and Bardem and Richard Jenkins on board for supporting roles, Eat, Pray Love actually does sound quite promising — the questionable casting aside. It is Roberts' best opportunity yet to win audiences back after her absence and the depressing box office crash-and-burn of her quite-excellent thriller, Duplicity. For those of you who have read Gilbert's book, what do you think of Bardem's casting as Felipe: Inspired, or typical Hollywood glam-ification? Do you also share my anxiety at the prospect of seeing Anton Chigurh romance Pretty Woman?

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  • Ceballos

    Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t really seem all that weird.
    It actually kind of reminds me of the Roberts/Clive Owen pairing. (I’m thinking more “Closer” than “Duplicity”. Bardem has the same dark good looks, and it sounds like a promising project so far.

  • Leo

    Is Felipe the sexy journalist she flirts with the idea of having a relationship with…if so then yes that will work. However if he is playing the man who ineviteably becomes Elizabeth Gilbert’s husband, he’s about 20 years too young.

  • js

    I like the idea.

  • Jo

    I just can’t believe this movie is a good idea, and this casting doesn’t make me any more enthusiastic about it.

  • Sina

    Seems weird to me. Sorry but Julia’s just not a superstar anymore and I’ll bet anything she’ll be so busy hamming it up for camera time and stuff the chemistry balance would be way off.
    I am glad someone else noticed that she doesn’t have chemistry with big stars (brad, tom, GEORGE CLOONEY!) but she did have it with Richard Gere and that old dude Nick Nolty. Clive Owen has chemistry with everyone (especially Natalie Portman) so that doesn’t count.
    Javier was so superb in VCB with all those women I think for hthe first time he won’t have that kind of chemistry with his female co-stars

  • k

    The book was horrible, self-congratulatory and completely vain. I can’t see any reason to turn it into a movie.

  • whatcha

    Why not? They’re both skilled actors. I thought she and Pitt were great in The Mexican. And much as I love Hanks, he hasn’t had great chemistry with any of his leading ladies lately. So I don’t think you can lay that on Julia.

  • Jolyn

    People are so excited about this book.. why?? Seriously. The first 1/3 of the book was pretty great (Italy), the second was okay but bordered on boring (India) and the last third was just, frankly, ridiculous and so obvious Elizabeth was trying to plaster on a “happy ending” on a really sad settlement with an old guy with chest hair who wouldn’t commit on land.

  • Jolyn

    Julia will be great in the role; the problem is the book is horrible at the end and Javier sounds much better than the man she ended up with! Quite unbelievable for the reader.

  • D J

    Time for Julia to retire. No one wants to see her in movies anymore. She’s not versatile enough (or frankly, good enough) for a career beyond the cutesy stuff. Same for Meg Ryan. Neither of them will have longevity like Streep or Close or Mirren or Dench.

    • Mel

      “No one” is a pretty bold claim, especially since millions upon millions of people still check her news stories, show up and appearance and buy tickets to her movies. Julia is just as great as she’s always been, if not better. The occasional box office crash and burn is typical of any star at her level and she has had far fewer of those than most with the number of films under her belt. It always baffles me when people are arrogant enough to attempt to speak for everyone else.

  • Julie E.

    I like this book and loathe Julia Roberts, so the movie was already ruined for me when she was cast. Seriously, she’s going to be terrible as always. I think Javier is miscast, but at least he can act . . . so let’s replace Julia instead! Elisabeth Shue looks more like the author. Or how about Kate Winslet? Julia’s last movie tanked anyway, so might as well get someone with some talent in there.

    • T I

      I couldn’t agree more!! I refuse to see this movie. Julie Roberts? I was thinking of Juliette from Lost.

    • bridget

      I agree she is wrong, Elizabeth Shue would’ve been perfect but unfortunately she bought the rights through her production company to the book… ugh!

  • c

    Elizabeth Mitchell reminds me more of Elizabeth Gilbert than any other actress. Obviously, she’s not as big of a star but I would have liked to have seen her in the lead role.

    • Rory

      I thought I was the only one who saw Elizbeth Mitchell in this role – she is such a compelling actress – PERFECT for this role…..sigh. And Javier Bardem would have had such wonderful, sexy chemistry with her.

  • Lisa

    I don’t mind Julia in this role, but Javier Bardem is way too young for the role of Felipe.

  • Dee

    I quit going to Julia Roberts movies before she did The Mexican. I think she needs to stretch herself as an actress, she’s my age and really good younger actresses are biting at her heels.

  • CMF

    great book. I can’t stand her acting. She plays herself in EVERY movie. I still am convinced her role in Erin Brockavich was not Oscar-worthy in the slightest. (Must’ve been a slow Oscar year)) Love Bardem, but he’s too young. If they’re gonna ruin the casting with her for what’ll surely be a vanity project, than at least he’ll bring some acting chops to his role.

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