Oprah: That's a very mature attitude.
Julia: It's not that I don't get at all bothered by a movie I've been in that I watch and say, "Well, it could have been better." I see that maybe I didn't work hard enough or the vision we worked toward wasn't executed. I do feel that disappointment. But my greatest sense comes from the experience of performing in the movie. When I have a great experience, that becomes a perfect movie. If it makes a nickel, it's still perfect. The same is true with a movie that's a bad experience. If it makes a bejillion dollars, I will hate it till the end of time.
Oprah: Have you had a few bad experiences?
Julia: Yes, but then I forget how horrible things were. I sort of selectively let it fall away until I begin telling a story about a movie to friends who worked with me on it, and they're like, "That's not at all how it happened. You were in tears and they were yelling." I'm like, "Oh, God, that's right. That was bad."
Oprah: I tend to do that, too. I just take the lessons from the bad stuff. Are you one of those people who, after you learn a lesson, you say to yourself, "I won't let this happen again"? Or does the lesson come back wearing a different pair of pants?
Julia: Some of the bigger ones have to come around again. Making movies is not rocket science. It's about relationships and communication and strangers coming together to see if they can get along harmoniously, productively, and creatively. That's a challenge. When it works, it's fantastic and will lift you up. When it doesn't work, it's almost just as fascinating. Why isn't this working? What in the personalities produces the power struggle? Who's afraid of something? There have been times when I've been miserable, and I can see a person who's making it miserable for everybody else. I think, That's who I don't want to grow up to be—that person. So I think I've applied that. It's not that I'm sweet as pie every day at work. But I certainly take work as a joyous responsibility.
Oprah: I see what you're like at home, and I like you here. What are you like at work?
Julia: I'm similar at work. Work has to be fun. We're all there, and everybody's important. The stand-by painter who's trying to get this little spot covered before we shoot—he has to be heralded and respected. We're a team. And I like that. I feel a responsibility, realizing that I'm literally in the center of the movie set, to keep things energized and moving along and keep people as happy as they can be.
Oprah: This place doesn't feel like some little celebrity hideaway—I can tell you really live here, you seem so at ease.
Julia: I'm so lucky to be crazy happy in my life. And I think it's not so much that I'm happier now than ever; it's that I'm more content. I'm in the harbor of my life.
Oprah: That's the quote of the day. Fantastic. Why are you so content?
Julia: A huge part of it is my marriage. My husband, Danny, has really shined the light for me. Because of being married, I've met people and experienced all these little things that have nurtured my life—not so much changed it, just nurtured it in a way that's astounding.