Julia Roberts reflects on the passing of Friends star Matthew Perry in a recent interview.
Covering engagements, breakups, and her current marriage to Danny Moder, we explore the diverse romantic experiences in Julia Roberts' life.
When Friends star Matthew Perry passed away at just 54 years old, the world mourned the loss of the lovable Chandler Bing. Many of his co-stars waited until they really had time to process his death to make individual statements, as did many of his former friends and lovers. One of those exes was famously Julia Roberts, who finally spoke out about his death on Dec. 5, 2023, in an interview with ET leading up to Netflix’s release, Leave the World Behind.
While Julia famously dated Matthew during her appearance on Friends in “The One After the Super Bowl,” she has a storied list of Hollywood exes. A sweetheart in the industry since she was 18 years old, it’s no surprise that Julia kissed a lot of frogs before she found her prince in cinematographer Daniel Moder.
One of Julia’s earliest roles was when she was 19 years old in Satisfaction opposite Taken star Liam Neeson. He was 16 years her senior, and although the film was not a box-office hit, it still catapulted their romance. Some sources suggest they even moved in together in 1988 in Venice, Calif. They co-starred again ten years later in Michael Collins, which Liam described to The Irish Times. “There was an ease between myself and Julia on the set, a real ease.”
After calling it quits with Liam, Julia dated American Horror Story star Dylan McDermott, whom she met on the 1988 set of Steel Magnolias. They were even secretly engaged for almost two years before Julia broke up with him in 1990.
In 1990, Julia met Kiefer Sutherland on the set of Flatliners, and the two began a whirlwind highly publicized romance. Their wedding, which was set for June 1991, was “postponed” in a joint statement from their publicists. Amidst cheating allegations towards Kiefer, a source close to Julia told People at the time, “It was Julia who called the wedding off. She has wanted to do it for some time but didn’t know if she could find the courage.”
While Julia felt that Kiefer “made it seem like he was the victim of the situation,” he’s since commended her for calling off the wedding. In 2016, he told The Jess Cagle Interview, “She was arguably the most famous woman in the world, and this wedding that was supposed to be something between the two of us became something so big … It wasn’t what she wanted to do in the end. And I think it took a lot of courage, in amongst all of that other stuff, to be able to say, ‘I can’t do this.'”
Amidst all the Kiefer drama, Julia was spotted having lunch with Kiefer’s bestie, The Lost Boys star Jason Patric. They were spotted heading off to Ireland, but according to Jason, he was with her for “a little while” after her relationship with Kiefer had already ended.
In 1992, Julia starred opposite country music star Lyle Lovett in The Player, although they had already met through mutual friends before filming. “I had a very strong reaction to meeting him,” Julia said in a 1993 Barbara Walters interview. “Different to the way I’ve ever reacted to any person on the planet … He’s perfect.” They married in July 1993, just weeks after they made their relationship public. But two years later, thanks to paparazzi and challenging work schedules, they separated.
Matthew Perry wasn’t known for his Hollywood romances, so his fling with Julia was a pretty famous one, considering he also got her to appear in a couple of Friends episodes. Julia said she’d only do the show if he would explain quantum physics to her, so he did (with the help of the Friends writers' room), and he won her over.
But their romance was short-lived. “Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me. I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me. Why would she not? I was not enough; I could never be enough; I was broken, bent, unlovable,” he wrote in Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. “So, instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts.”
“The sudden passing of anybody so young is heartbreaking," Julia told ET when asked about his death. "I think that, you know, it just helps all of us just appreciate what we have and to keep going in a positive way as best we can."
After her fling with Matthew ended, Julia famously dated fellow Miss Congeniality actor Benjamin Bratt. They were introduced to each other by friends in 1997, when they met at a restaurant in Manhattan. “[Benjamin] walked in, and I looked up at him, and it was like something hit me over the head with a bat,” she told Vanity Fair. They eventually split in 2001.
Last but not least, Julia married her now-husband, cinematographer Danny Moder, in 2002. They met on the set of Mexican, where Danny was working as a cameraman. Danny was still married to his first wife of four years when they met, but a month after they divorced, he married Julia. They had twins Hazel and Phinnaeus in 2004, and a younger son Henry in 2007.