Oprah: The first time you heard you were America's sweetheart, did it mean anything to you then?
Julia: I somehow thought it meant I was tiny. Doesn't the word sweetheart sound so sweet and tiny? [Laughs.]
Oprah: So when you hear things like "Reese Witherspoon is America's new sweetheart," what do you think?
Julia: Somebody else is always going to be the next sweetheart. It's all contrivance: Label them as fast as you can so you can keep them all straight. A while ago when Sandra Bullock was first making movies, the press started this whole rivalry between us. She was supposed to be the next...
Julia: Around that time, this really nice and funny guy, a writer, seemed to get that he's part of the whole machine, too. He wrote an article called "The Next Julia Roberts," which I thought was so funny because in his story, I am the next Julia Roberts. He turned the whole thing on its head.
Oprah: Do you like the label "biggest female box-office star"?
Julia: That seems so huge. And it makes me laugh. Not like "Oh-ho-ho-ho" but like "That's so crazy."
Oprah: Crazy but true.
Julia: And how do we know it's true? Because that's what we're told. I was watching television one day and heard, "The number one movie at the box office is..." and I thought, "What if they didn't tell us?" What if they didn't say who got paid the most? What if they didn't say this person is the prettiest or the most stylish? How would we know? We'd just have to formulate it for ourselves.
Oprah: Yes, and it used to be that way. Imagine what it's like to make a movie that opens on a Friday, and by Saturday morning at 6, you're sitting by the phone to see whether you've been successful or not.
Julia: Oh, but I hope people don't do that.
Oprah: So you're not one of those movie people who live or die by the box office?
Julia: You can't. It's the X factor. You can't hold on to it. I've had people call me with numbers, and I say, "I can't even tell by the tone of your voice whether this is good or bad news." You just have to let it go.
Oprah: And you have?
Julia: Whatever happens is going to happen, whether you're sitting by the phone anxious and worried about it or not.
Oprah: So you just do the work you love to do. And at the end of the day, if people love it, they love it; and if they don't, you're okay with that.