"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."
Gayle King was looking forward to resting this past weekend. And who could blame her? In the past week, our editor at large went to London to cover Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, surprised Harry Styles at Madison Square Garden, and woke up every morning at 3:22 a.m. to host CBS Mornings. But when she got a call to interview Julia Roberts for A+E Networks and History Channel’s HISTORYTalks in Washington, D.C., she booked her Amtrak train ticket to the nation’s capital quicker than you could say, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
HISTORYTalks pairs unexpected thought leaders, trailblazers, authors, and filmmakers to have conversations about our nation’s past in order to “illuminate our future.” This year’s event marked the first in-person conference since the onset of Covid—and the lineup was not to be missed. Special guests included superstar sisters Venus and Serena Williams onstage with Bradley Cooper, George and Amal Clooney in conversation with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, along with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, who took the stage alongside their daughter Jenna Bush Hager. Gayle had no problem canceling her relaxing Saturday to join the list with Roberts. “It doesn’t feel like work when I talk with Julia. We really wanted it to be more of a conversation, and it was,” she shared with us.
Following her conversation with Roberts, Gayle shares three highlights about the Hollywood star below.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King paid for Roberts’s hospital bill when she was born.
While preparing for the interview, Gayle was surprised to see another King come into the picture—and she doesn’t mean herself, but Martin Luther King, Jr.
“My parents had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers Workshop, and one day Coretta Scott King called my mother and asked if her kids could be part of the school because they were having a hard time finding a place that would accept their kids. And my mom was like, ‘Sure come on over.’ And they all became friends, and they helped us out of a jam.”
“In the ’60s, you didn’t have little Black children interacting with little white kids in acting school. And Julia’s parents were welcoming, and I think that’s extraordinary, and it lays the groundwork for who Julia is,” Gayle noted.
Roberts met her husband on the set of a movie—and he still makes her blush.
It’s safe to say that Roberts loves her husband, Daniel Moder, a lot, since the couple celebrated their 20-year milestone anniversary earlier this year. Yet it’s clear that time has only made their relationship stronger, based on how Roberts gushed when Gayle asked if she still gets butterflies when she thinks about her partner of two decades.
“I love that 20 years later, you can still feel that way about your husband,” Gayle said.
Roberts was the first woman in Hollywood to earn as much money as her male counterparts in the 2000s.
For her role in Erin Brockovich, Roberts demanded that she be paid $15 million—closing the salary gap that she had with the male stars of her time, such as Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. “When I’m working, I work very hard,” Roberts said. “I’m ready. I’m on time. I’m prepared. I’m happy. I’m all in. So, show me the money.”
While the world may know Julia Roberts as an Academy Award–winning actress, America’s sweetheart, or the movie star with the most contagious laugh, she is first and foremost a “human,” as it reads in her Instagram bio. And after getting to know her a little better this weekend, Gayle says that’s the sweetest part about her.
You Might Also Like