Julia Roberts and Oprah

It's a first for Oprah—she's making her first feature film with one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Julia Roberts! "She and I are friends, and that's what our new movie is all about," Oprah says. "It's about friendship."

That movie, of course, is Charlotte's Web. The film adaptation of the beloved children's book by E.B. White hits theaters December 15, 2006. In the film, Oprah lends her voice in a supporting role as Gussy, a goose. Julia voices the film's main character, Charlotte the spider. She took the role on only six weeks after having her twins!
Julia Roberts

Despite an Oscar® and the many characters she's played over the years, Julia says she has the best role right now as a mother. Hazel and Phinnaeus, her twins with husband Danny Moder, are almost two years old! "I just love them. They're fun and happy and honest and just fill me with so much joy," Julia says.

Motherhood has had some unexpected surprises for Julia, too. "I guess I didn't realize that you could really just like your children as much as your friends, you know? I just enjoy interacting with them," Julia says. "I'm interested in their point of view."

Since becoming a mother, Julia says she's changed. "I definitely feel that I've expanded as a human being," she says. "I have more empathy and more compassion, I think, because I feel so blessed on a level that I can't even wrap my mind around really."
Julia Roberts and Oprah

Julia turned 39 this year, but she says she's not nervous about approaching 40. So what does she know now that she didn't know at age 25? "I guess I appreciate life more. I can appreciate being fulfilled and I don't feel like I have to be constantly striving," Julia says.

Now that she's a mother, Julia also says she can better appreciate her own mom, Betty. "I try to call her with more regularity because I think, 'God, what if Hazel didn't call me for two weeks?'" she says. "I'm able to see her mothering now from a different vantage point."

Julia also says being a mom has made her think more critically about global issues. She was recently featured on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine as part of the "Green Team," along with George Clooney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Al Gore, to promote environmental awareness. "It's motherhood really urging my consciousness along into different places," she says. "What is the world going to be like for all of our children?"

Julia drives a hybrid car and even makes sure to recycle plastic grocery bags. "Reduce, reuse, recycle," Julia says. "Just like Jack Johnson sings in Curious George."

Julia is also involved in a program called School Bus America to try to get school buses across the country to switch from diesel fuel to biodiesel. "Our kids are inside those buses where it's so much more toxic and deadly," she says. "And it's so easy. All these buses can be changed over to biodiesel and vegetable oil."
Julia Roberts

Julia and her husband, cameraman Danny Moder, married four years ago at a Fourth of July party that turned into a surprise wedding. Julia says they're more in love today than ever. "I just love him to bits," Julia says. "He's just a great human being. And to see him now as a father—that is the greatest thrill of my life, is watching him be a father to my children."

Julia says Danny is "totally involved" with raising the twins. "He is our rock, our heart center of our family," Julia says.

In fact, Danny is the biggest thing Julia says she has in common with her son. "He is as in love with Danny as I am. So Danny walks in the house and we're pushing each other out of the way to get to him first," Julia says. "I love to have someone on the planet who understands how I feel when Danny walks in the door."
Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning and Oprah

Charlotte's Web is back on the big screen, complete with real animals and an all-star cast. Julia plays Charlotte, the big-hearted spider who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a runty pig named Wilbur, voiced by Dominic Scott Kay. When Wilbur learns he's destined for the smokehouse, Charlotte weaves a daring plan to save him by spinning four miraculous webs.

Dakota Fanning shines as Fern, the little girl who first saves Wilbur. Country star Reba McEntire and Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates play Betsy and Bitsy, two barnyard cows.

Actor Steve Buscemi turns in a stellar performance as Templeton, the greedy rat; and even screen legend Robert Redford lends his voice as Ike, the panicky horse.

Cedric the Entertainer whoops it up as Golly the gander, and Oprah plays Golly's wife, Gussy, a goose with a stuttering problem.
Dakota Fanning

At only 12 years old, actress Dakota Fanning has been already compared to Bette Davis, Judy Garland and Meryl Streep! Her films have grossed more than half a billion dollars, and Entertainment Weekly says she may be one of the most powerful actresses in Hollywood.

People have said Dakota's an old soul, but she doesn't see it that way. "I just think of myself as me, you know?" she says. "I love what I do and I am so lucky that I get to do it and that people enjoy it."

Born in Conyers, Georgia, Dakota's parents saw something special in their daughter right away. She learned to read at age 2 and started first grade when she was just 4 years old. She began acting at a local playhouse in preschool and landed a national Tide laundry detergent commercial one year later.

Dakota's big break came when she won the role of Lucy opposite Sean Penn in I Am Sam. Audiences fell in love with the 7-year-old instantly, and she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, making her the youngest ever to receive that honor.

Dakota's such a pro that Charlotte's Web director Gary Winick says having her on the set made his life easier. "She's so unbelievably truthful and connected to the experience and her character," he says. "That just inspires me. ... It's a gift."
Dakota Fanning and Oprah

Dakota says she was a fan of the book Charlotte's Web long before she took the part. "There have been so many stages to me reading it," she says. "When I was little I had it read aloud to me. As I got older I read it myself and then when I found out I was going to do the movie, I read it again."

Playing Fern on the big screen is a special role for Dakota because not only is Charlotte's Web one of her mom's favorite books, Fern is also her mom's favorite character. "The last fair scene I have the little yellow dress and the red ribbons," Dakota says. "And my mom was crying when she saw it on me because she had read the book so many times and seen that in there and to have me in the actual dress was really special."
Dakota on the set of Charlotte's Web

Because Charlotte's Web received the go-ahead to start filming during the dead of winter in America, the cast and crew packed up and headed Down Under to shoot in Melbourne, Australia, where they thought they would be able to capture the change in seasons.

After they arrived, however, the production endured the worst storm Melbourne had seen in 156 years. Flooding and an unexpected cold snap forced set designers to attach thousands of delicate green silk leaves to the suddenly bare trees.

Working with so many real animals was no trip to the zoo, either. The geese despised the other animals and kept biting the cows and sheep. All of their scenes had to be shot separately, sometimes with stand-in puppets. And it wasn't just the animals cast in the movie causing headaches. Wild snakes made their way into the barn and had to be rooted out every morning. Even the animated animals were a challenge.

In fact, one particular scene from Charlotte's Web took an amazing 41 days to complete.
Cedric the Entertainer

In the mid-'90s, Cedric Kyles was a St. Louis insurance adjuster by day. By night, he was Cedric the Entertainer, a comedian who honed his skills in local comedy clubs, hoping to get noticed. And that's just what happened when comedian Steve Harvey caught Cedric's act and offered him a regular role on The Steve Harvey Show.

After a breakout performance in the filmed standup ensemble The Original Kings of Comedy, Cedric became a household name after his role in the 2002 smash hit Barbershop.

In Charlotte's Web, Cedric plays Golly the gander, the henpecked husband of Oprah's stuttering goose, Gussy.

"I'm going to need the checkbook," Cedric jokes when he's reunited with his "wife," Oprah, on the show.
Cedric and Oprah in the recording studio

With many animated films, the actors who lend their voices to characters record their lines alone in a studio. Oprah, however, decided to fly to California so that she and Cedric could record their parts together.

"You made me better because you're really good," Oprah says. "You were really good being henpecked."
Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric lives in California with his wife Lorna, son Croix, and daughters Tiara and Lucky Rose.

Cedric says he and Lorna like to plan elaborate birthday parties for their children. Though Lucky's birthday is at the beginning of winter, that doesn't mean much in California where it's still hot, Cedric says. So for her third birthday, he says, "My wife had this idea and we kind of put it together and did this winter wonderland, literally in our front yard. It was snow and sleds. It was crazy."
Sarah McLachlan

Grammy-winning musician Sarah McLachlan performs "Ordinary Miracle" from the Charlotte's Web soundtrack.
The 'Charlotte's Web' cashmere sweat suit

In celebration of the release of Charlotte's Web, the movie studio designed a limited edition cashmere sweat suit. The cast brought along one for everyone in the audience.

The sweat suits are available at Intuition in Los Angeles. For more information, visit ShopIntuition.com.
FROM: Oprah's First Movie with Julia Roberts
Published on November 28, 2006


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